Catalans 14 – 6 Leigh
Catalans Dragons led Leigh 8-0 at half-time thanks to a Arthur Mourgue penalty and Tom Johnstone’s try, before Mickael Goudemand helped seal the Super League victory in the second half for the French side
Last Updated: 25/02/23 8:14pm
Leigh gave Catalans Dragons a scare before falling to a battling 14-6 defeat in Perpignan.
The newly-promoted Leopards put up a brave fight, but a second-half try from the Dragons’ Mickael Goudemand handed the visitors their second loss of the season at a cold and grey Stade Gilbert Brutus.
Leigh were full value for their modest 8-0 half-time deficit and came close to upsetting the odds thanks to a mercurial performance from Lachlan Lam at scrum-half but just did not have enough quality to bring the points home.
Catalans lost second-row Matt Whitley and centre Adam Keighran before kick-off and were already without the injured Mitchell Pearce, Mike McMeeken and Tyrone May, but they had enough in reserve to cope with Leigh’s spirited performance.
Sam Tomkins returned to action at scrum-half alongside young France international Cesar Rouge, but the Leopards, who lost influential hooker Edwin Ipape before the game because of an ankle injury, held their own.
The game was scoreless until Tomkins’ understudy at full-back Arthur Mourgue landed a penalty in the 30th minute.
Five minutes later Tom Johnstone latched on to a sweeping move to the left to score the first try of the game, Mourgue kicking from the touchline to put Catalans 8-0 ahead at half-time.
Leigh hit back early in the second half when Lam caused chaos in the Catalans’ defence with a kick to the line, which was mopped up by second-rower Joe Wardle and grounded.
Ben Reynolds added the conversion to put the visitors within two points.
And the Leopards held the Dragons for long periods until Goudemand split their defence with a powerful 10-metre burst to score in the 66th minute, Mourgue’s conversion making it 14-6.
Leigh still would not fold and stood firm as Catalans peppered their line with a series of penalties and extended possession late into the game.
What they said
Leigh coach Adrian Lam…
“I’m very proud of the team, but I’m very frustrated too because we got ourselves in positions there where we could have won.
“We lacked a bit of game management and that hurt us, but we’re close and, while I thought we deserved to win tonight, we didn’t but that’s part of the growth within our group.
“We’ve just got to look after ourselves and stay within the bubble. We had eight players making their debut last week, so we’re going to be a bit rusty for the first part of the season.
“It’s hard to see if there is any success there in front of us when we’re emotionally caught up in the now and the moment of loss, but we’re working hard to turn the corner soon and we’ve just got to stick together.”
Catalan coach Steve McNamara…
“We’ve had the worst week ever with sickness and infections from injuries sustained in our first game at Wakefield.
“We’ve lost a number of players, so to do that tonight against a very good Leigh side was incredible.
“I’m very happy with that result, we’ve had a very difficult week. We lost Manu Ma’u because his father has sadly died and he has returned to New Zealand to be with his family.
“Seven players had infections this week following injuries sustained on the pitch at Wakefield in round one. We had lots of sickness and this morning Matt Whitley picked up a shoulder injury and Adam Keighran had to pull out.
“So with the situation at the moment that is a very good win for us. Our defence was good today, but our attack was horrible, but in our current state I can’t complain.
“It’s been the most difficult week for this club for a long time and I’m proud of the way the players have responded.”
Catalans return to action at home to Hull FC on Friday March 3, while Leigh are on the road against Hull KR.