After defeat to the Leeds Rhinos in round four the Catalans Dragons were looking to get back to winning ways as they returned home to the Stade Gilbert Brutus to take on a St Helens side who have struggled so far in 2017 and who were languishing in tenth place at kick-off.
Saints were unchanged from the side which lost to Hull FC in round four. For the home side there were a number of changes including backs Yaha and Inu being replacing Broughton and Duport, and Jason Baitieri was in for the injured Greg Bird.
Both sides were desperate for a win and despite the lower than expected league standings of both sides it was a mouthwatering prospect.
It took just eighty seconds for Adam Swift to fly down the left touchline and dive over in the corner after the Dragons had conceded a penalty for a high tackle. Mark Percival kicked the conversion between the sticks from the touchline.
On six minutes Thomas Bosc opened the Dragons account when he took a Luke Walsh pass to crash over. Walsh brushed the far upright but added the extra two to level the scores.
All the signals were there for a try feast when on ten minutes Mark Percival found space wide left to go through a massive gap in the Dragons defence. He failed to add the conversion from the touchline.
On fourteen Julian Bousquet again levelled the scores when he walked through a poor Saints defensive effort off a Walsh pass. Walsh added the extra two forma 12-10 lead.
But the lead lasted just two minutes as a Theo Fages short ball found Ryan Morgan to go over from close to score five in from the right touchline. Percival made sure with the kick to double his sides leading margin.
After a barren fourteen minutes during which both sides has tries (Swift and Myler) chalked off by the video referee Adam Walker bounced off the post pad to cross on his back and despite the attention of three defenders he managed to get the ball onto the ground. Percival kicked the conversion for 22-12.
The temporary drought ended and the Dragons joined the fun when Ian Thornley scored acrobatically wide left and with Walsh adding the extras brilliantly from the touchline it was 18-22 with just over three minutes left on the clock.
As the half-time hooter sounded the Dragons had a Thornley try ruled out for foot in touch and in a half of a point a minute rugby it was the Saints who took their four point advantage into the interval.
Bosc had a try ruled out on forty-four after a Brayden Wiliame pass in the build-up,was adjudged to have been forward.
An incorrect play the ball from Jon Wilkin gifted the Dragons the ball, and two tackles from the scrum Paul Aiton went from acting half-back to ground despite being spun over the line on his back by the Saints defenders. Walsh kicked the extra two to edge his side back into a narrow lead.
Defences were very much in control in the second half, it was almost like watching two different teams, until the seventy-second minute when Jack Owens was at the end of an expansive passing move through a tiring Dragons defence. It was a superb Fages offload which put Owens free to ground and with Percival kicking the conversion it was the Saints who now had a narrow four point lead at 28-24.
The Dragons had a final opportunity but Richie Myler lost the ball on the last tackle and Saints held on for the hard-fought win.
A sloppy first half from both sides was followed by a much tighter second but neither side showed the skill, composure or confidence which we have come to expect from these two great sides. Saints scraped the win but their coach and supporters will not be elated by the nature of it or the looseness of play at times. The Dragons are now without a victory in their last three matches, a total turnaround to their start to the season.
Bosc (T), Thornley (T), Inu, Wiliame, Yaha, Walsh (4G), Myler, Baitieri, Horno, Garcia, Mona, Aiton (T), Casty. Subs: Bosquet (T), Simon, Burgess, Da Costa.
Makinson, Owens (T), Morgan (T), Percival (T, 4G), Swift (T), Fages, Wilkin, Walmsley, Roby, Douglas, Taia, Peyroux, Knowles. Subs: Amor, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Walker (T), Lee.