The Salford Red Devils, one of four sides without a win so far this season in Super League had the daunting task of the first trip to the south of France after the Catalans Dragons returned to play their first home game at the Stade Gilbert Brutus for 190 days.
The Red Devils came into the game off the back of a win in the cup last weekend but were propping up the Super League table, and were up against an almost full strength Catalans Dragons side sitting in fifth place in the table, their only missing player being Joel Tomkins.
The Dragons were strong favourites for the win with the bookies, but Salford can be unpredictable.
After a cat and mouse opening ten minutes it was the Dragons who drew first blood when Ben Garcia changed direction, wrongfooting the defenders, and ran the angle to evade the tacklers and score under the sticks. James Maloney added the conversion from under the H for a 6-0 lead.
Two minutes later and the Dragons were in again after Sam Tomkins broke free of his tacklers with finding Samisoni Langi to go thirty metres down the left wing and score in the corner. Maloney had a much more difficult conversion attempt from the touchline but still found his target.
A Maloney penalty after he’d been shoved off the ball by Seb Ikahihifo further extended the lead.
It was all too easy on twenty-eight when Mike McMeeken found the defensive line far too easy to break before passing inside to Josh Drinkwater for a simple twenty metre run to the sticks. Maloney added the conversion to bring up the twenty.
The Dragons defence thwarted some improved attack from Salford and guarded the 20-0 lead to the half time hooter.
There were just over two minutes on the second half clock when Fouad Yaha was in a big overlap to take a Langi pass and score by the left corner flag. Maloney maintained his one hundred percent kicking record to make it 26-0.
It was becoming a procession on fifty when Tom Davies took a brilliant McMeeken offload to go in at the corner for the fifth try of the game. Maloney was on target for the sixth time for 32-0, the points were safely the Dragons.
Salford avoided the zero on fifty-five with Harvey Livett taking the short pass from Kevin Brown and dragging a tackler over the line and grounding one-handed on the line. Morgan Escare added the conversion for 6-32.
Normal service was resumed on fifty-five as a high kick was knocked on by Kallum Watkins and dribbled over the line by Yaha before he stooped to ground it for his second try of the evening. Maloney banged another conversion over for 38-6.
Yaha got his third try on sixty-nine, again with plenty of space down the left wing, but this time Maloney was unable to add the conversion, blotting his copy book.
It was the final score of the evening and sealed a 42-6 win for the Dragons against a Salford side who will be happy to get out of France and look to regroup for next weekend. The Dragons are looking like a strong side who may be challenging for honours later in the season if their start is anything to go by.
Catalans Dragons: Tomkins S, Yaha (3T), Langi (T), Whare, Davies, Drinkwater (T), Maloney (7G), Bousquet, Da Costa, Dudson, Whitley, McMeeken, Garcia (T). Subs: McIlorum, Seguier, Baitieri, Kasiano.
Salford Red Devils: Escare, Sio, Watkins, Costello, Williams, Lolohea, Brown, Mossop, Patton, Ormondroyd, Livett (T), Pauli, Taylor. Subs: Ikahihifo, Lussick, Ackers, Wells.
Referee: Ben Thaler.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, 14-0, 18-0, 20-0 : HT : 24-0, 26-0, 30-0, 32-0, 32-4, 36-4, 38-4, 42-4 : FT.