Super League semi-finals: Catalans Dragons seal first Grand Final appearance with 28-10 win over Hull KR
Tries from Benjamin Garcia, Josh Drinkwater, Arthur Mourgue, Fouad Yaha and Joe Chan secured the League Leaders' Shield winners a place in the Grand Final at Old Trafford for the first time in their history
Last Updated: 01/10/21 6:56am
Catalans Dragons ended Hull Kingston Rovers' fairy-tale run in the Super League play-offs and booked a maiden Grand Final appearance with a 28-10 victory in Thursday's semi-final in Perpignan.
Benjamin Garcia's early try and an interception score from Josh Drinkwater put the Catalans ahead 12-4 at half-time, but Shaun Kenny-Dowall's finish five minutes before the break kept the Robins in the hunt.
However, Arthur Mourgue capitalised on an error soon after the restart to push the Dragons further ahead, with Fouad Yaha and Joe Chan also going over and James Maloney kicking a late penalty to ensure a place at Old Trafford for the first time.
A sold-out Stade Gilbert Brutus saw the Dragons beat the Robins for the fourth time this season in a match that came four years to the day since the French outfit avoiding slipping into the Championship in the Million Pound Game against Leigh Centurions.
Since then, Steve McNamara's team have made history by becoming the first overseas club to lift the Challenge Cup, in 2018, and now stand on the verge of another historic success after setting up a showdown with either back-to-back champions St Helens or Leeds Rhinos at the home of Manchester United on October 9.
Thursday's semi-final did not start too well for the home side though, with a fumble from Mourgue - standing in for the injured Sam Tomkins at full-back - and a penalty for a high tackle from Michael McIlorum. Then the young French prospect was penalised for a double-movement when he looked likely to score in the seventh minute.
It was left to Catalans' captain Garcia to open the scoring when he took Rovers' winger Ben Crooks over the line after winning the fight for a high ball with visiting full-back Will Dagger in the ninth minute, with Maloney adding the conversion to make it 6-0.
A period of stalemate then ensued between two sides who had already fought out three tight encounters this season, but when giant substitute Sam Kasiano entered the fray the Dragons went into overdrive.
First, winger Yaha was pulled back for a forward pass after he crossed the line on the left before player of the match Drinkwater collected an interception and ran 80 metres to score in the 31st minute. Maloney made it 12-0 with a simple conversion.
Kasiano's destructive force up the middle of the pitch was taking its toll but it was the brute force of another substitute forward that led to the next score.
Rovers' hulking prop Albert Vete came off the bench to wreak some havoc of his own and a couple of powerful bursts led to centre Kenny-Dowall striding over the Dragons' line on the left, too wide for Jordan Abdull to add the conversion three minutes from the interval.
At eight points in front, Catalans still had work to do in the second half but a high kick from Maloney was fumbled near his line by Dagger and was pounced on by Mourgue in the first minute. The video referee agreed with official James Child that the young Frenchman had grounded correctly to make it 16-4.
A series of penalties to Rovers had French fans howling but the return to the pitch of captain Garcia put Catalans back on the front foot. Then a blistering break by Mike McMeeken and Tom Davies on the right was switched to the left for Yaha to strike in the corner in the 61st minute.
Joel Tomkins was pulled back by the video referee for a knock-on over the line but when Drinkwater stroked a grubber into the in-goal area, interchange forward Chan was quick to pounce for the Dragons' fifth try. Maloney added the conversion to leave Catalans within touching distance of victory, leading 26-4 with 11 minutes left to play.
Rovers struck back with a try from winger Ryan Hall in the 74th minute, converted from the touchline by Abdull, but a penalty goal two minutes from the end by Maloney finished the game at 28-10, leaving French supporters looking forward to an historic day at Old Trafford.