Hull KR jump back into playoffs and deal huge blow to Catalans Dragons title hopes

Hull KR host Catalans Dragons tonight with retro round coming to Craven Park in which ticket prices have been slashed to 2001 levels, years before the Dragons even existed as a side but the Perpignan club are currently leading the charge for a second League Leaders Shield ahead of Wigan Warriors and St Helens.

Steve McNamara’s side were hoping for a major response after being battered at home by title rivals Wigan, whereas Willie Peters side had handed out a battering of their own against Leigh Leopards.

The Robins had bounced back to sixth with that result but following some recalculations after a falsely reported score it was conformed they actually sit seventh, level on points and points difference with Salford but below them on a tie break formula.

Having lost the Challenge Cup final it seems that making the top six is a must for Rovers otherwise a very fruitful season could turn into another wasted opportunity, whereas for Catalans they entered Craven Park eyeing up another win to extend their lead atop the table.

Following last week’s huge victory the Robins remain unchanged with George King featuring despite requiring stitches during that win over Leigh.

As for the Dragons they’re without winger Tom Johnstone who suffered a failed HIA last week which gives an opportunity to Fouad Yaha, a man who spent a brief stint on loan at Craven Park earlier in the season.

The Robins had a chance to go in front early when they got a penalty inside the Dragons’ 20 but it came to no avail and just minutes later Catalans forced an error of their own, creating a six again and territory for Romain Navarrete to crash over and open the scoring after five minutes.

Rovers got another strong set in territory following a Yaha knock on and this time they did capitalise with the ball being shifted left allowing captain Shaun Kenny-Dowall to dance through and score.

Just after the twenty minute mark Catalans opted for two to open up a lead and then five minutes later they extended once again through captain Ben Garcia who forced his way over from short range to make the score 14-6.

The Robins did hit back before half time though through Kane Linnett which saw the teams go into half time with just two points separating them at 14-12.

It didn’t take long for a second half score though and it came for the home side with Jack Walker scoring just two minutes into the second half, a brilliant try that was converted via the help of the crossbar from Brad Schneider to make the game 18-14 to the home side.

Schneider then had more kicking duties five minutes later following a Catalans penalty and he nailed it to extend the lead to one converted try.

That six point lead was cut to just two when Fouad Yaha scored in the corner minutes later, but thankfully for the home side the conversion was missed by Adam Keighran to leave the score at 20-18 with half an hour to go.

The Robins then got quite lucky as Julian Bousquet was judged to have knocked on when reaching for the line, with former Hull FC man Manu Ma’u sin binned for a high shot on Tom Opacic.

With a man advantage it was a major chance for the Robins to take advantage and they did so through talisman Mikey Lewis who was the beneficiary of a big carry from Rhys Kennedy.

Schneider added the extras to make the lead 26-18 with Rovers still a man up for seven of the remaining seventeen minutes.

Despite the man advantage it was the Robins who were under the pump and they defended back to back goal line drop outs during the period in which they had a man advantage, but the return of Manu Ma’u from his sin bin set up a tense final ten at Craven Park.

It was a final ten minutes that Rovers saw out despite the nerves with the win sending them back into the playoffs and up to fifth, ahead of Salford and Warrington with the latter having a game in hand.

It was a second straight loss for Catalans and one that saw them sacrifice top spot with Wigan Warriors winning against Salford and heading top.

The 26-18 win for Rovers was coupled with a 26-8 win for Wigan over Salford, both teams doing each other a favour.