First Utility Super League: Catalan Dragons beat Salford Red Devils
Last Updated: 03/05/14 9:04pm
Morgan Escare: opened the scoring for Catalan
Catalan Dragons beat Salford Red Devils 37-24 in a thriller of a game that saw the lead change hands no fewer than five times.
The hosts started the brighter and, for the second week in a row, raced into an early 16-0 lead.
Morgan Escare weaved across the front of the Salford defence to create space for himself to score down the left edge in the first minute and William Barthau converted to give the hosts a 6-0 lead.
In the eighth minute the Dragons were in again. Julien Bousquet and Eloi Pelissier combined to create a half break for Leon Pryce, whose wide pass to Daryl Millard saw the Fijian centre go in at the left corner. This time Barthau missed the conversion.
Catalans continued to dominate but Salford had the next opportunity to score, with Greg Eden sending in Danny Williams down the right - only for a last-gasp tackle by Millard to prevent the try.
Just before the quarter mark, Catalans extended their lead as Zeb Taia and Pelissier combined to help the supporting Escare race over from 40 metres out to score under the posts. Barthau added the simple conversion.
Salford got back into the game with Gareth Hock offloading to Junior Sa'u, who showed quick hands to allow Francis Meli the space to touch down in the left corner. Tim Smith added the touchline conversion to make it 16-6.
From the restart, Martin Gleeson found Danny Williams, who raced over under the posts to narrow the deficit - and Smith's conversion trimmed Salford's deficit to four points.
The visitors took the lead in the final minute of the half, a set play from a scrum saw Rangi Chase run across the Catalan defence and create space down the right for Greg Eden - who dummied to Williams and scored himself to the right of the posts. Smith converted as the hooter sounded to make sure the visitors took an 18-16 lead into the second half.
Five minutes after the break, Pryce found the supporting Taia, who raced over under the posts to score, despite Williams' best efforts to prevent the try. Barthau added the simple conversion.
Salford fought back five minutes later to re-take the lead. Chase's pass to Hock looked to be forward but was allowed to stand as the latter raced clear, dummying to pass and fooling Escare on his way to scoring. Smith converted.
The lead changed hands again on the hour as Bousquet broke clear and offloaded to the supporting Pryce, whose pace took him to the line. Barthau added the conversion.
Catalans were awarded a penalty 40 metres out with 12 minutes remaining and Barthau's kick was true to give the hosts a six-point-lead.
From the kick-off, Pelissier bounced off three would be Salford defenders and passed to Vincent Duport down the left. The French centre managed to draw in two Salford defenders before offloading to Escare, who scored. Barthau's goal gave the Catalans a 12-point lead heading into the final 10 minutes.
The scoring was completed with one minute to go when Pelissier scored a drop-goal.