Tomkins ends saints reign with last minute heroics


Catalans Dragons ended the four year reign of St Helens as Super League champions with a dramatic 12-6 victory in Perpignan.

Penalty goals from Adam Keighran cancelled out a second half try from Will Hopoate before Sam Tomkins scored the winning try for the home side in the last minute of the game.

Defence dominated early in the first half and neither side were able to make the most of the few chances they had when attacking inside their opponents half.

Catalans thought they had broken the deadlock after 17 minutes through Tom Johnstone however the video referee deemed that Johnstone had shoved Jonny Lomax on his way to grounding the ball as the halfback was trying to shepherd a deft kick in behind from Mitchell Pearce out of play.

The home side eventually opened the scoring just before the half hour mark through an Adam Keighran penalty goal. The penalty came following a high tackle by Sione Mata’utia who may have been lucky to stay on the field after what appeared to be a swinging arm to the head of Sam Tomkins on the ground after the tackle.

Keighran’s solitary penalty goal would be all that separated the two teams following a first half that was characterised by brutal defence and a high number of handling errors which meant neither side could gain a foothold in the game.

The second half started in a similar vein and It would be a handling error from the Catalans Dragons that led to the first try of the game after ten minutes.

Following the error, and a subsequent set restart, St Helens found themselves within sight of the Catalans line when Jack Welsby was able to crab across and stretch the home side’s defence before switching the ball back inside to Will Hopoate who surged through a gap in the defensive line to score. Percival converted the try to make the score 6-2.

Catalans Dragons reduced the gap to two points with 15 minutes to go through a second penalty goal from the ever reliable boot of Keighran following another high tackle.

They would then tie the game with less than ten minutes to go following a cynical penalty from Matty Lees which saw the front rower be sent to the sin bin. After Welsby spilled a high kick to the corner Lees continued to lie on Tom Johnstone to slow the game down and gave the referee Chris Kendall no choice other than to reach for his pocket.

Once again Keighran made no mistake with the kick and set up a grandstand finish.

Already down a man, two handling errors inside their own half from St Helens meant that Catalans had all the territory following the penalty and after a failed drop goal attempt in the previous set it would be the home side’s retiring hero Sam Tomkins who would come up with the crucial score.

Setup for the drop goal again, Tomkins instead decided to run due to the pressure of the St Helens defenders and as he stepped back inside the onrushing Alex Walmsley he palmed away the attempted tackle of Curtis Sironen before streaking away to score the winning try under the posts.

Adam Keighran kicked the final conversion as the hooter sounded which sparked a pitch invasion from the jubilant home fans who are set to see their side play in a second grand final in the space of three seasons.

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