The Dragons went into this match knowing that they hadn’t lost an Easter Monday fixture for five years, and welcoming back players from suspension and returning from their long injury list.
Castleford, on the other hand, haven’t won an Easter Monday tie in a number of years, and lost Nathan Massey just before kick-off, handing 18-year-old Lewis Peachey his Super League debut.
Unsurprisingly, it was the home side who showed the early pressure, with two sets pressing the visitors’ try-line in the first five minutes, though with no points to show.
But that changed on 10 minutes when a Catalans penalty at the end of an attacking set saw them march down to the Castleford end again.
Julian Bousquet powered in under the sticks to open the scoring and, with Sam Tomkins’s conversion, the hosts led 6-0.
In a sign of how the game was going to go, the Tigers promptly kicked the restart out on the full.
And some 10 minutes later Tony Gigot doubled the Dragons’ lead. Tomkins passed the ball out wide to Matt Whitley, who offloaded to Gigot as he was being taken to ground, for the full back to stroll in. Tomkins converted again.
It took to the 37th minute for Castleford to hit back, and an unconverted Greg Eden try meant the teams marched off to hear their coaches’ half-time talks to a 12-4 scoreline.
As so often, the Tigers looked to have been improved by Daryl Powell’s words, with a good opening set and Michael Shenton held up over the line minutes later.
But it was Catalans who opened the second-half scoring. David Mead broke downs the wing, then kicked inside. James Clare seemed to gather the ball in the face of an onrushing Greg Bird – but the Australian loose forward picked his pocket and plonked the ball down. Tomkins goaled to give the Sang et Or an 18-4 lead.
And to add to the Tigers’ woes, talismanic captain Michael Shenton went off with an ankle injury in the 55th minute.
Three minutes later, Gigot kicked a drop – perhaps remembering their golden point loss to Hull – for 19-4 lead.
Sensing the game slipping further away from them, Cas restarted with a short kick-off – but it failed to go the 10. The resulting penalty saw the Dragons camped on the Tigers’ line again and when Sam Kasiano broke through and passed to Bousquet, for the second-rower’s second try. The inevitable conversion took the score to 25-4.
But then the visitors’ started a mini- fightback.
A second short kick-off worked and saw Eden race away to score in the same corner as his first try. This time, Peter Matautia converted for a 25-10 score. And when last week’s debutant Cory Aston scored from a Peachey pass on the 70th minute, converted by Matautia, it must have raised hopes among Cas players of a famous final 10 minutes.
But Whitley dashed those hopes with a 73rd minute converted try. To add emphasis to the win, Tomkins latched onto a loose ball in the Cas 20 and ran it in. His conversion, which took the score to 39-16, was the last action of the game.
Catalans (12) 37
Castleford (4) 16
Catalans: Gigot (T), Mead, Wiliame, Tierney, Langi, Casty, Moa, Edwards, Bird (T), Bousquet (2T), Whitley (T), Da Costa, Tomkins (T, 6G, 1DG). Bench: Simon, Goudemand, Baitieri, Kasiano.
Castleford: Mata'utia (2G), Clare, Minikin, Shenton, Eden (2T), Trueman, Watts, McShane, McMeeken, Milner, Moors, Aston (T), Smith. Bench: Clark, Maher, Peachey, Clarkson.