St Helens maintained their 100 per cent start to the First Utility Super League season as the leaders overcome Catalan 40-22 on the back of an electric opening 30 minutes.
The home side were always in control after accruing 24 unanswered first-half points - with Tommy Makinson crossing twice - and although opposing winger Michael Oldfield would reply with a second-half brace himself, that big deficit early on proved Catalan’s undoing as they failed to chalk up their first victory.
The victory means Saints have now won each of their first five fixtures but, as head coach Nathan Brown admitted in his programme notes, sterner tests await with Leeds visiting Langtree Park in two weeks’ time.
Saints may have opened the 2014 season in flawless fashion but they began with an inauspicious start here when full-back Jonny Lomax misread the kick-off. The visitors were unable to turn their fortune into points, though, and soon lost the territory battle.
Zeb Taia caught Willie Manu with a high, swinging arm and Saints put the first points on the board, working the ball out left to allow Josh Jones to cross with Luke Walsh adding the extras.
Catalan owner Bernard Guasch had hauled head coach Laurent Frayssinous in for crisis talks this week following a terrible first four games and there was little evidence the message had been heeded as two errors led to a pair of Saints tries.
First, Paul Wellens, making his 500th career appearance, pounced on a loose ball which culminated in Makinson’s first try and Jordan Turner soon followed him over in the right corner following Morgan Escare’s inexplicable knock-on. Walsh kicked both conversions - the first with the help of the goal’s frame.
Saints were simply relentless and although Adam Swift’s dart yielded no reward, his brilliant fellow winger Makinson’s own waltz through the middle of Catalan’s defence ended with him going under the posts, Walsh staying perfect with the boot.
While remaining undefeated, St Helens had conceded 40 points in their two home wins and their 24-0 lead would be halved by the interval. The Dragons profited from an offside a couple of metres out as Super League debutant Benjamin Garcia crossed while hooker Eloi Pelissier was left with a simply try after feigning to pass from close range.
After the restart Saints looked to resume their dominance. Sia Soliola benefited when Jon Wilkin’s high kick bounced into his path and James Roby’s intuitive assist allowed Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook to dot down.
Walsh was a half-time injury casualty so Lomax took on the conversion duties and stretched his team’s lead to 18 points.
Escare’s error-strewn evening continued when he knocked on in the act of being tackled, yet Saints did not take advantage and Lomax’s own muff from an up-and-under allowed Catalan to score again.
Leon Pryce, formerly of Saints’ parish, used quick hands to spin the ball out to Oldfield and he had just enough room to spring over the line. Thomas Bosc converted to make it three from three for him and ensure the Dragons remained in touching distance.
Lance Hohaia made it half a dozen St Helens tries for the night after good work by Wilkin, yet Oldfield would touch down again with a magnificent one-handed effort which - after Bosc missed the extras - brought Catalan back to 36-22 and ensured a nervy final 10 minutes.
Lomax would free Swift to get his try, though, as the hosts passed the 40-point barrier for the first time this season with their full-back’s missed conversion failing to make the scoreline even more handsome.