Hull KR 19-20 Catalans: Dragons rally to claim vital victory
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 15/09/17 11:47pm
Catalans Dragons staged a tremendous late fightback to earn a precious 20-19 victory over Hull KR that boosted their survival hopes.
The dreaded Million Pound Game beckoned for the French side as they trailed 19-8 but they struck with two tries in the last 10 minutes to edge in front in their must-win Qualifiers clash at KCOM Craven Park.
Even then they needed a huge slice of fortune in the closing moments, with Hull KR half-back Chris Atkin missing with both a penalty and a drop goal to leave the visitors hanging on desperately for a third successive win, which equals their best run of the season.
With promotion already secured, Rovers coach Tim Sheens opted to field just six players from the team that beat Widnes last Saturday and the reserves amply illustrated the club's strength in depth with an impressive display.
Twenty-four hours after Hull captain Gareth Ellis scored a crucial try in his last home match, acting skipper Ben Cockayne looked to have done the same for Rovers as he went over for the try on his farewell appearance that put his side in front - but it proved in vain.
The Dragons had the encouragement of an early score from scrum-half Richie Myler, who read the kick perfectly from his half-back partner Luke Walsh to touch down for his 14th try of the season.
Walsh added the conversion and kicked a penalty after hitting the woodwork with an earlier attempt to make it 8-0, which is how it stayed until half-time.
Rovers rarely threatened the visitors' tryline in the first half and the Catalans were little better, with winger Vincent Duport grounding the ball short in their only other dangerous attack.
Hull KR were more lively after the break and veteran second-rower Graeme Horne went close to touching down Matty Marsh's grubber kick before they turned the game on its head with three tries in 12 minutes.
The first try came in fortuitous fashion, with 18-year-old winger Will Oakes profiting from a suspiciously forward pass from Atkin to touch down.
There was, however, no doubt about Cockayne's try as he ran onto Atkin's perfectly-judged kick to fittingly mark his farewell appearance by putting his side in front for the first time.
Zach Docker-Clay kicked both conversions to make it 12-8 before hooker George Lawler burrowed his way over from dummy half for their third try and Atkin opened up a 10-point lead with the conversion.
Former New Zealand Test centre Krisnan Inu dropped a pass from hooker Paul Aiton with the tryline beckoning, and for a time it looked to be the Dragons' last chance to get back in the game.
Atkin added a drop goal but former Rovers three-quarter Iain Thornley began the late comeback when he went over for a 71st-minute try.
Walsh kicked the touchline conversion and he was also on target after centre Brayden Wiliame crossed for the most important try of his Catalans spell five minutes from the end.