It was fourth against fifth as two sides with aspirations of making Old Trafford at the end of the season with Hull FC travelling to the south of France to take on the Catalans Dragons. A win for the visitors wouldn´t alter their league position but would put some daylight between them and their arch rivals from across the city whereas a win for the Dragons would lift them two places and back into second spot.
Both sides came into the game on the back of defeats after the Dragons lost at home to the Huddersfield Giants and FC were pipped in golden point by strugglers Wakefield Trinity after an enormous fightback.
The Dragons were the favourites for the win, but it promised to be a great battle.
In sweltering conditions, it took ten minutes for the Dragons to register the first points, with the run of play. After getting a repeat set Mike McMeeken took the pass as he hit the gap and stepped off his left foot to round the last tackler and score. Sam Tomkins kicked the conversion placed ten in from the touchline, sneaking the ball inside the far post.
A high tackle by Hull on the twenty-minute mark gifted Tomkins a second goal of the game for an 8-0 lead.
Great hands from the Dragons, never giving up in the tackle, saw the ball end up in the hands of Fouad Yaha from a Matthew Whitley offload to scamper over in the left corner. Tomkins drifted his kick over from the touchline for a 14-0 lead.
Three minutes later the Dragons offloads paid dividends again, this time with Mikael Goudemand taking the ball and crashing over under the sticks. Tomkins added the goal from under the posts and the Dragons were grinding out a solid performance and taking the all-important points.
A minute before the interval Ben Garcia was sin-binned for delaying the play-the-ball, the only blemish on a terrific first half performance from the Dragons.
FC were first on the board in the second half as Josh Griffin pushed away Samisoni Langi and muscled his way over the line with forty-five minutes on the clock. Luke Gale was unable to add the extras.
Back to a full side the Dragons were back over the whitewash, Langi taking a miss-out pass from Mitchell Pearce for a walk-in try from ten metres out. Tomkins couldn´t add the extra but with thirty minutes left there seemed to be no way back for the Airlie Birds.
With nine minutes left on the clock Darnell McIntosh managed to get the ball on the ground as he hit a short ball at speed and crashed over the line from eight metres out. Gale was again unable to add the conversion, it was mere consolation for the visitors.
Mitchell Pearce scored the Dragons fifth try of the night after an awful Hull mistake inside their own ten metres as they spilled the ball. The Dragons scrumhalf stepped through a broken defence to score next to the posts. Tomkins slid the extras between the uprights to end an evening of misery for FC.
Within ninety seconds the Dragons went on again with a flowing move down the left wing completed by Tyrone May as he took an inside pass for a walk-in try, the FC defence having already given up the chase. Tomkins added the extras two for 36-8, and emphatic victory.
The conditions weren´t conducive to fast rugby as the two sides sweated their way through eighty minutes of attrition, the Dragons more acclimatised and handling the extremes of the environment the best to take the win and return to second place in the table.
Catalans Dragons: Tomkins (6G), Yaha (T), Laguerre, Langi (T), Davies, May (T), Pearce (T), Napa, McIlorum, Bousquet, Whitley, McMeeken (T), Garcia (SB on 39). Subs: Mourgue, Goudemand (T), Chan, Kasiano.
Hull FC: Shaul, Swift, Wynne, Tuimavave, McIntosh (T), Reynolds, Gale, Evans, Houghton, Sao, Griffin (T), Ma´u, Fash. Subs: Brown, Johnstone, Lovodua, Satae.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 8-0, 12-0, 14-0, 18-0, 20-0, (SB) : HT : 20-4, 24-4, 24-8, 28-8, 30-8, 34-8, 36-8 : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Catalans.
Referee: Jack Smith.