|Catalans (18) 18|
|Tries: Whitley 2, Laguerre Goals: Maloney 3|
|Huddersfield (12) 30|
|Tries: Jones, Senior, Ashall-Bott, Cogger, English Goals: Russell 5|
Huddersfield Giants spoiled Catalans Dragons’ triumphant League Leaders’ Shield homecoming with a comeback victory at the Stade Gilbert Brutus.
It looked a tall order when the Dragons, who clinched top spot last week, raced into an 18-0 lead with Matt Whitley and Mathieu Laguerre tries.
Josh Jones and Louis Senior reduced the arrears before the break.
Olly Ashall-Bott, Jack Cogger and Matty English then crossed to hand Giants a shock win in the south of France.
Having made history with their remarkable comeback win over St Helens last weekend to clinch the shield, the Dragons knew they would be presented with the silverware at the match, and also said a belated goodbye to former players Remi Casty, Mika Simon and Lucas Albert.
However, the hosts were unable to harness the emotion of the day after a bright start but, although taking nothing away from the Giants’ display, were without stars such as Sam Tomkins, Sam Kasiano and Micky McIlorum – all of whom will likely return for their important home semi-final in early October.
Huddersfield slowly seized control and in the end had a comfortable margin of victory.
It is also a boost to Giants boss Ian Watson, who will already be looking to his off-season plans with one game to go.
Not only did they score 30 points without reply, but they also kept the Super League leaders scoreless in the second half as the hosts lost for only the third time in 22 games this season.
Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara:
“To finish top of the competition and show that level of consistency that is needed, is a massive stride forward for the club and tremendous for everybody involved with Catalans Dragons, our supporters, players, staff and directors. More than that it is tremendous for French Rugby League and the town of Perpignan.
“In our short history we have created great stories and there are more stories to come. It’s a new name up there, it’s great publicity. When you get a non-English team winning the league leaders’ shield, it creates headlines so we’re very happy and we will celebrate and acknowledge our achievement.
“We deserved to finish top of the competition but we’ve got to go again and we will do. We should not underestimate our achievements and just how difficult it is to finish top.
“By finishing first we have earned the right to plot our path to the semi-final. Clearly, our team selection has enabled us to be in a better position next week. I view the game at Wigan as the first semi-final for us, it is that standard of game. Wigan want to win next week to finish in the top four and it is the perfect opportunity for us to play a ‘first’ semi-final.”
Huddersfield Giants coach Ian Watson:
“It’s a great win coming to Catalans. It’s always great to win here.
“We were really disappointed last week. We were flat and lacked energy and we told ourselves we couldn’t do that again this week.
“We needed more energy than the Catalans team. We knew they would make some changes.
“They started with enthusiasm and it hurt us but we showed great resilience to come back and win.”
Catalans: Mourgue; Davies, Laguerre, Whitley, Franco; Maloney, Drinkwater; Dudson, Rouge, Goudemand, Jullien, Le Cam, Baitieri
Interchanges: Seguier, Dezaria, Cozza, Brochon
Huddersfield: Ashall-Bott; Cudjoe, Wardle, Leutele, Senior; Russell, Cogger; Wilson, Peats, English, Jones, McQueen, Lawrence
Interchanges: Greenwood, Trout, Pryce, Peteru