Rovers survive Catalans fightback

Published: Thursday 25th June 2015 by The News Editor

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Hull KR withstood a spirited fightback from Catalans Dragons in the first Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final to secure their first semi-final as a Super League club.

The Robins made a dream start by romping into a 24-0 lead after 28 minutes but were forced to sweat on the outcome after the visitors eventually found their spark to cut the deficit to just 10 points.

However, prolific winger Ken Sio went over for his second try of the match and Josh Mantellato took his goal tally to six from seven attempts to ease their side into Sunday’s last-four draw with a 32-26 triumph, as they set their sights on adding to their solitary cup final success of 1980.

In the end Catalans had left themselves too much to do as their woeful away form continued, while Rovers made it eight wins out of 10 at home in 2015.

Chris Chester’s in-form team were boosted by the return of Shaun Lunt and Dane Tilse from injury and both made key contributions.

The Dragons brought in youngster Stan Robin in the absence of injured half-backs Thomas Bosc and Todd Carney, who were sorely missed, and Rovers also largely kept a tight rein on danger man Zeb Taia.

The visitors’ defence was exposed as early as the eighth minute when Sio took Kieran Dixon’s pass to outsprint Fouad Yaha for his 16th try in his first season with the club.

The Catalans could not handle the offloads of prop Adam Walker, who combined with fellow front rower Tony Puletua on 16 minutes to get Dixon over for a second try, courtesy of a fortuitous ricochet, and two minutes later Mantellato outjumped full-back Morgan Escare to collect Blair’s high kick and send lively scrum-half Albert Kelly over.

Coach Laurent Frayssinous was on the touchline by then, having stormed down from his seat in the stand, and he had an excellent view of the cut-out pass from substitute Lunt that released Mantellato and second rower Graeme Horne was on his inside to finish off the move for the home side’s fourth try.

Mantellato converted all four and put over a penalty on the stroke of half-time while Catalans’ only response was a try six minutes before the break by winger Krisnan Inu, who touched down Elliott Whitehead’s grubber kick to the corner.

The French side improved in the second half, no doubt after a dressing-down from Frayssinous, and with the aid of a run of penalties scored two tries in six minutes to give themselves a lifeline.

Taia forced his way over from a tapped penalty and Inu grabbed his second following a superb break and precision kick from centre Tony Gigot.

Scott Dureau added one of the conversions as the visitors cut the deficit to 26-14.

When the impressive Liam Salter created a second try for Sio on 63 minutes, the danger looked to have been averted, but the battling Catalans struck back twice more with hooker Ian Henderson and Whitehead going over for tries and Durea kicking his second goal.

Published: Thursday 25th June 2015 by The News Editor

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