Catalans Dragons’ 61-0 victory over Leeds Rhinos boosts their hopes of finishing top two in the Super League and with it, just one home game in their quest to reach a second Grand Final; Huddersfield Giants beat Hull FC 52-20
Last updated: 09/16/23 8:25 p.m.
The Catalan Dragons returned to the Super League top two with a 61-0 humiliation against woebegone Leeds in Perpignan.
Adam Keighran scored three tries and scored 18 points as Steve McNamara’s men made a huge statement with one round remaining in the regular season.
A young Rhinos side, still reeling from last week’s 50-0 defeat of Wigan, finished second across the board again on Saturday night and saw their faint mathematical hopes of booking a top-six place mercilessly exposed .
In contrast, the Catalans travel to Salford next week knowing that another big win will likely secure them a top-two finish and with it, just one home game in their quest to reach a second Grand Final.
Rohan Smith’s side wilted in the third minute in 30-degree heat when Keighran completed a 30-yard move involving Tom Johnstone before converting from the touchline.
Then hooker Michael McIlorum slipped a short ball to set up his captain Ben Garcia near the posts, with Keighran converting to make it 12-0 after 12 minutes.
Three minutes later, Tom Davies struck from the right after further good work from McIlorum. Keighran curled the conversion from the right touchline, bouncing it off the crossbar.
Jack Sinfield was denied a response for an incorrect grounding and the Catalans swept down the other end where Davies landed for his second and Keighran added another touchline kick to make it 28- 0 at half-time.
Mitchell Pearce, Johnstone and Keighran’s second – all converted by the Wigan-bound star – extended the Catalans’ lead before Matt Ikuvalu benefited from Garcia’s excellent work to bring up the hosts’ half-century.
Sam Tomkins put the foot down with a cheeky goal seven minutes from time as the Catalans looked to eliminate any remaining points with an eye on the potentially crucial points difference in the final table.
Moments later, the former England captain made an improbable sprint towards the line, but he was stopped by Harry Newman, who was shown a yellow card after a scuffle.
The match ended with Keighran scoring his hat-trick and converting again for a record Super League defeat for the Rhinos.
Sam Lisone was sin-binned for a late tackle as the final whistle sounded and Keighran added the penalty, completing another day to forget for the Rhinos, whose final game of the season against Castleford next Friday has now been rendered academic.
Hull FC 20-52 Huddersfield Giants
Huddersfield produced a scintillating second-half performance to defeat Hull 52-20 in the Black and Whites’ final home game of the Super League season.
The game was well balanced early in the second half, with the Giants leading by just two points. However, the hosts collapsed under pressure from Huddersfield, with the visitors scoring six tries to round off a miserable day for Tony Smith’s side.
Jake Connor returned to haunt the Black and Whites, picking his old side apart with the boot and out of the hands to ensure his team ran out comfortable winners.
Hull came into the match desperate to end a four-game losing streak and send out a host of outgoing players as winners, while Huddersfield were keen to find some form in their last two outings to launch into 2024.
However, after showing some courage in the first half, the defending at times present in the second half was embarrassing from the home side, who had no answer to Huddersfield’s finesse , who approaches the last match of the season with full confidence.
Huddersfield got off to an excellent start with Jermaine McGillvary showing some deft hands before running untouched down the right to open the scoring.
The home side were undeterred and hit back quickly with a try from Tex Hoy, who broke through the Giants’ line and rounded the full-back to score from close range and level the scores.
Hull had taken the lead and quickly took the lead with a long-range try to Darnell McIntosh, who backed up a break from Andre Savelio to score against his former club.
The Giants had plenty of success from the start and, after another repeat set, Connor fired a perfect pass for Esan Marsters to score untouched and level the scores.
Huddersfield scored again just before the break to take the lead, Seb Ikahihifo beating several players before crashing over down the left.
Hull had to score in the second half and did so through Savelio, who scored from close range to reduce the deficit to four points.
That was as good as it got for the hosts as the Giants ran wild in a blistering 25-minute spell that earned them six tries.
Kevin Naiqama scored a hat-trick, there was a well-taken brace from Will Pryce and McGillvary completed his own brace with an off-target score just minutes from time.
Hull would have the last laugh, however, with the retired Scott Taylor crashing under the posts and converting his own try in the final act of the match.
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