Fouad Yaha scored a first-half hat-trick on his 150th career appearance to help a depleted Catalans Dragons to a 20-16 win over Wakefield at Belle Vue.
The French club had Tom Davies and Tyrone May back from injury but the withdrawal of Sam Tomkins with a knee strain left them down to the bare bones. They had 13 senior players on the sidelines through injury and suspension.
Coach Steve McNamara was forced to draft in Mathieu Cozza for his first start in Super League in the absence of three specialist props. McNamara had a winger and a half-back on his bench.
However, Arthur Mourgue stepped into Tomkins’ shoes at full-back with aplomb. The Catalans youngsters defended heroically and Yaha’s finishing did the rest. McNamara’s men completed a 14th win of the season to create a six-point buffer on fifth-placed Castleford.
Wakefield’s defeat leaves them still just two points above bottom club Toulouse with five matches left of the regular season to secure their Super League status.
Fouad Yaha scores first half hat-trick
In a first half blighted by handling errors, full-back Jamie Shaul’s fumble of Josh Drinkwater’s high kick gifted the visitors a perfect attacking position two minutes in. Yaha accepted Mourgue’s cut-out pass to score his first try.
He doubled his tally five minutes later, again courtesy of Mourgue’s pass, and the half-back’s second conversion made it 12-0.
Shaul pulled a try back from Trinity’s first meaningful attack after 15 minutes but Mason Lino was unable to add the goal. Yaha completed his hat-trick in sensational fashion 12 minutes later.
Drinkwater’s grubber kick caused confusion in the Wakefield in-goal area and centre Samisoni Langi brilliantly palmed the ball back for Yaha to touch down, taking his tally for the season to 15.
The French club had substitute Tiaki Chan sin-binned six minutes before half-time for a dangerous tackle on winger Lewis Murphy. The Dragons held firm up to half-time when they led 16-4.
HT: Wakefield Trinity 4-16 Catalans Dragons
Wakefield were unable to take advantage of the extra man but captain Jacob Miller put Matty Ashurst through a gap in the Catalans defence for their second try after 48 minutes. Lino’s conversion cut the deficit to six points.
Trinity were camped inside the Dragons’ 20-metre area but a relieving run from Mourgue almost got replacement half-back Cesar Rouge over for a try. Mourgue put his side two scores in front with a penalty after 69 minutes.
Mourgue added another penalty to seemingly put the result beyond doubt. However, Lino worked winger Lewis Murphy over for a try with two minutes left and kicked his second conversion to set up a tense finale.
Wakefield had a chance to snatch victory after the final hooter sounded. Corey Hall came up with a half-break but his kick was collected by a relieved Mourgue as the visitors celebrated a notable success.
FT: Wakefield Trinity 16-20 Catalans Dragons
Wakefield: Shaul; Kershaw, Hall, Gaskell, Murphy; Miller, Lino; Whitbread, Hood, Arona, Ashurst, Tanginoa, Batchelor. Subs: Crowther, Bowden, Fifita, Battye.
Tries: Shaul, Ashurst, Murphy Goals: Lino 2
Catalans: Mourgue; Davies, Romano, Langi, Yaha; May, Drinkwater; Cozza, McIlorum, Seguier, Le Cam, Jullien, Da Costa. Subs: Rouge, Kasiano, Franco, T Chan.
Tries: Yaha (3) Goals: Mourgue 4
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