The eagerly anticipated Easter schedule got under way on Thursday evening for Salford and Catalans. Both sides failed to impress with Salford beaten comfortably away at Warrington while the Dragons laboured to victory over Toulouse in a bad tempered match in Perpignan.
Once again Salford conceded a substantial lead in the first half trailing 16-0 just before the break. Ken Sio’s try right on half time gave the away supporters a little glimmer of hope for the second half but once again the Red Devils were second best. The first all French Super League encounter finished 18-10 to the Dragons. Steve McNamara’s side currently sit in second place on the League table just two points behind leaders St.Helens. Salford have slipped down to tenth with three wins from eight matches so far.
Since the Dragons joined the Super League in 2006 Salford have had the upper hand for the majority of the time in this fixture. They kept the Frenchmen scoreless in their first two visits to the Willows in 2006 and 2007. Catalans won the last ever Salford match at the Willows in 2011 and since moving to the AJ Bell Stadium their have been some real cracking games. The 2017 game was quite an emotional night and Salford’s come back win in 2012 was one to remember.
This could be a pivotal fixture for both sides. For Salford the sides below them are to close for comfort and the last thing Paul Rowley and his team want is to be dragged into a dog fight at the bottom of the table. Their are no hiding places in Super League and every week you need to be at your best. Salford’s next two fixtures are away to Wigan and then St.Helens.
Super League Home Record.
2006 Salford 16 Catalans 0
2007 Salford 10 Catalans 0
2009 Salford 16 Catalans 18
2010 Salford 12 Catalans 24
2011 Salford 18 Catalans 44
2012 Salford 34 Catalans 30
2013 Salford 16 Catalans 12
2014 Salford 34 Catalans 22
2015 Salford 18 Catalans 14
2016 Salford 12 Catalans 26
2017 Salford 50 Catalans 12
2018 Salford 32 Catalans 16
2019 Salford 40 Catalans 14
2020 Salford 42 Catalans 24
2021 Salford 14 Catalans 42
They played for both.
Despite Catalan Dragons short existence there are a number of players who’ve played for both clubs including Jodie Broughton, Luke Burgess, Iain Thornley, David Berthezene, Todd Carney, Michael Dobson, Richie Myler and Gil Dudson.
A match to remember. Friday 17th February 2006.
Salford 16 Catalans 0.
The Dragons started life in the Super League in sensational fashion with a thrilling victory over Wigan in their first match. A packed crowd in Perpignan witnessed a 38-30 victory. Six days later they travelled over to England to face Salford at the Willows on a chilly evening in mid February.
After a fantastic result beating Warrington away in round one, Karl Harrison and his Salford side were confident of getting another victory. They had defended superbly against the Wolves playing with a near perfect game plan nailing a 6-24 victory.
Catalans had made some sound recruitment bringing in Kiwi superstar Stacey Jones to guide the team around the pitch. Ian Hindmarsh and James Beattie where both tough seasoned forwards and young Frenchman Jamal Fakir was a really exciting prospect with plenty of power and aggression.
In a tight first half Andrew Dunemann and Karl Fitzpatrick dictated operations for Salford playing together at half back. Andy Coley, Malcom Alker and Simon Finnigan led the defence well with some real solid tackling. The Dragons lost Stacey Jones to injury after only ten minutes of the match and this was a bitter blow.
Salford forced the pace from early on and went close to a try after just three minutes when Karl Fitzpatrick’s kick proved just too strong for Junior Langi.
A lightning break by David Hodgson and Fitzpatrick moments later created another opening – but a great opportunity was spurned as Stuart Littler failed to take a pass out wide.
All the Reds had to show for their dominance in the opening quarter was a solitary penalty from Hodgson.
Littler put that right as he made amends with the opening try after 19 minutes.
Salford could have put the game beyond reach in the first half, but it was not until the 42nd minute that they extended their lead with Littler’s second.
Former Leeds scrum-half Andrew Dunemann, making his Reds debut, stretched the Catalans defence with an arcing run out wide before passing inside for Littler to touch down. Dunneman who went on to have a huge impact in 2006 with Salford.
Hodgson converted to put Salford 12-0 ahead. Littler went close to a hat-trick as he chased the ball in-goal – but it just ran dead.
Catalans enjoyed a spell of pressure as they tried to force their way back into the game, but the Reds held firm.
Brocklehurst finally put the game beyond reach after 71 minutes as he finished off a slick move with a powerful run on the right.
Salford had won in the opening round at Warrington 6-24 so to beat the Catalan Dragons 16-0 it was a excellent start to the 2006 season. Karl Harrison’s men went on to finish 5th in the 2006 season playing some tremendous rugby. Quite a few games were won by the odd point. Salford lost some tight games as well losing to Hull and Leeds by a point in the league. Perhaps one match that really sticks out was the home game to St. Helens. Salford going down 10-12 in the end to a fantastic Saints team in a pulsating night at The Willows. Many supporters will have fond memories of 2006.
The teams that night;
Salford: Wilshere; Langi, Littler, Moule, Hodgson; Dunemann, Fitzpatrick; Coley, Alker, Highton, Sibbit, Brocklehurst, Finnigan. Substitutes used: Stewart, Haggerty, Clough, Rutgerson.
Catalans: Frayssinous; Murphy, Wilson, Hughes, Verges; Rudder, Jones; Beattie, Rinaldi, Fellous, Guisset, Fakir, Hindmarsh. Substitutes used: Guigue, Touxagas, Mounis, Chan.
Referee, Phil Bentham.
Not many teams seem to win two from two at Easter. It takes a special effort to back up with a short turnaround.
Salford have only played three home games so far this season with two wins coming against Toulouse and Leeds. The other match was a defeat against Hull Kingston Rovers. Looking back Salford could of won that game with a little bit more composure. The Dragons are a very good home side when they play in Perpignan but can sometimes be a little unpredictable away from home. That said they’ve already impressed on the road in 2022 with victories at Leeds and Warrington. It certainly took time to build this Catalans side but coach Steve McNamara has turned them into real contenders over the last couple of years. The Dragons came so close in the Grand Final last year losing 12-10 to St Helens. Mitchell Pearce and Josh Drinkwater provide plenty of quality in the halves and Fouad Yaha is a very prolific try scorer. Former Wigan stars Tom Davies and Michael Mcllorum have lots of experience but another former Wiganer Sam Tomkins won’t play this Monday he’s currently out with a leg injury.
It will be interesting to see if Paul Rowley makes any changes to his Salford side. One player who is itching for more game time is Chris Atkin. Rowley can’t really make wholesale changes with only having a small squad. It must be frustrating having Dan Sarginson, Harvey Livett and Kallum Watkins out injured. Sarginson is out long term but Livett and Watkins are getting closer every week to a return which would give the squad a huge boost.
A good positive start on Monday will give Salford a real chance in this match. I’ve heard a few people say recently we are already in a dog fight. If that’s the case Salford have got to bite down on the gum shields and fight their way out of it.
The action gets under way at 3pm. Safe travels and enjoy the match.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos.