Blanch makes Wildcats blush with hat-trick

Catalan Dragons 34 Wakefield Wildcats 10

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The Independent Online

The Catalan Dragons closed within a point of second-placed Warrington with victory over the Wildcats that owed as much to their powers of endurance as it did to their quality. Damien Blanch scored a hat-trick of tries, Steve Menzies, celebrating his Exiles call-up, managed a brace and Clint Greenshields one in the energy-sapping heat of Perpignan.

It enabled the Dragons to reclaim third place from St Helens and made sure they took full advantage of Friday night's defeats for leaders Wigan and the Wolves.

An early mistake from Richard Mathers was punished by Vincent Duport, who drew in the defence and sent Blanch racing down the line to touch down in the fourth minute.

Menzies' first try was a superb interception on his own 10-metre line, the 38-year-old racing the remaining 90 metres to touch down unopposed.

A superb individual effort from Ali Lauitiiti followed at the other end. The New Zealander used his superb handling skills to dummy, then his strength to power over the line despite Scott Dureau's best efforts to halt him. Paul Sykes converted to narrow the gap to six points.

Dureau laid Menzies' second try on a plate, his short ball to the former Australia second row allowing Menzies to go through a gap in the Wakefield defence to score. Dureau added his third conversion from as many attempts to give the hosts an 18-6 half-time lead.

From the restart, a high Dureau kick again caused havoc in the Wakefield defence. Peter Fox fumbled the ball twice under pressure before Greenshields put boot to ball for the Catalans and managed to win the race to touch down under the posts, allowing Dureau the simplest of conversions.

Wakefield responded with a try from second rower Kyle Trout, who managed to squeeze his way over. Sykes hit the post with a difficult conversion.

With 15 minutes remaining, the hosts killed off Wakefield as Duport once again provided a superb offload to send in Blanch in the right corner.Dureau nailed a touchline conversion to stretch the advantage to 30-10 and take the Dragons to the brink of victory.

With just six minutes left, a short goal-line drop-out gifted the hosts field position and they made Wakefield pay as Ian Henderson and Greenshields combined to send Blanch in for his hat-trick try. Dureau missed with the touchline effort but the win was secure.

In the day's other game, four tries for Danny McGuire inspired rampant Leeds to a 58-12 hammering of London Broncos at the Twickenham Stoop. The result took the reigning champions up to sixth in the Super League table.

Catalan Dragons Greenshields; Blanch, Duport, Millard, Pala; Pryce, Dureau; Baitieri, Menzies, Paea, Ferriol, Henderson, Casty. Substitutes used Fakir, Pelissier, Raguin, Mounis.

Wakefield Mathers; Fox, Mellars, Sykes, Cockayne; John, Smith; Washbrook, Kirmond, Lauitiiti, Raleigh, Aiton, Amor. Substitutes used Wood, Wilkes, Johnson, Trout.

Referee B Thaler.