Last Updated: 30/06/18 8:57pm
Josh Drinkwater scored a hat-trick of tries and kicked six goals in a man-of-the-match performance as Catalans Dragons won 44-16 against Castleford Tigers to climb into the Betfred Super League top eight.
His 24-point game boosted the Dragons’ prospects of avoiding the turmoil of the Million Pound Game they encountered last year.
Greg Bird, Louis Anderson, Julian Bousquet, Kenny Edwards and Lewis Tierney also scored in the rout of the visitors.
Catalans took the lead in the fifth minute following a ball steal on Remi Casty, as Australian Drinkwater booted the simple penalty goal from in front of the posts.
Drinkwater extended the lead after seven minutes, Casty sending Bird clear before he drew the full-back and passed to the supporting Drinkwater who scored under the posts. The Catalans half-back added the simple conversion to take the score to 8-0.
Castleford were stung into action and responded accordingly, a short side play by Michael Shenton sending James Clare over in the corner with the winger acrobatically touching down. Jamie Ellis missed the touchline conversion.
David Mead had a 90-metre try ruled out for an earlier knock-on by Casty in the 17th minute before the Tigers levelled in the 20th minute, a penalty offering field position before a smart offload from Junior Moors allowed Quentin Laulu-Togagae to waltz through the Catalans defence for an easy try. Ellis added the conversion to give Castleford a two-point advantage.
Another Castleford error allowed the Catalans to attack the Tigers line. Bird ran at the Tigers defence down the left, stepping inside Oliver Holmes before seeming to lose possession but gathering to touch down. Drinkwater missed the goal, leaving the score at 12-10.
Drinkwater added his second try of the game to extend the hosts’ lead. A grubber kick struck a Castleford player’s boot and rebounded straight into the hands of Drinkwater who touched down 10 metres in from the left touchline.
Drinkwater added the conversion to give the hosts an eight-point lead.
Catalans were dominant and controlling the ball, Anderson dummying one way and charging over to score to the right of the posts despite the best efforts of two Castleford defenders. Drinkwater added the conversion to take the score to 24-10.
Another penalty conceded by the Tigers saw the home side attack and a smart offload from Anderson to the supporting Bousquet saw the big French forward charge over to score. Drinkwater added the conversion to give the hosts a 20-point lead at half-time.
Edwards added to the Catalans tally, touching down Drinkwater’s grubber to open the second-half try-scoring 13 minutes in. Drinkwater missed the conversion.
With 22 minutes remaining, Paul McShane scored a solo effort, kicking the ball three times before collecting and touching down, and Jamie Ellis added his second goal of the game.
Drinkwater sealed his hat-trick 12 minutes from the end, intercepting a loose pass from Moors to race 60 metres and touch down under the posts. Drinkwater added the conversion to take the score to 40-16.
Tierney added a last-minute try following a break by Samisoni Langi to round off the scoring for the home side. Drinkwater’s conversion from the touchline drifted wide, but it was still his day.
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