The game of the round saw third placed Hull FC travel to the south of France for an early Friday evening kick-off against the Catalans Dragons with both sides eyeing the top of the table but needing to record big points victories to achieve it.
The Dragons needed a thirty-seven point victory to overtake Warrington on points difference while the ask was an unlikely fifty-three point plus win. A win for either side would lift them into second spot, at least until Hull KR took on the Leigh Leopards in an eight o´clock kick-off.
The home side were slight favourites for the win, but FC had only been given a four-point start on the handicap coupon.
The Dragons lost Cesar Rouge within a few minutes of the first whistle after he picked up an injury, an early play-maker loss for the home side but they were undaunted.
On seven minutes the Dragons drew first blood from the boot of Adam Keighran after an FC indiscretion, opting to get the points on the ball.
Tom Davies had a try ruled out on fourteen after a clear forward pass from Arthur Mourgue. But within a couple of minutes a good break by Romano set the platform and on the last tackle Keighran found Johnstone to cross in the corner. Keighran added the conversion and on twenty minutes the Dragons had a deserved 8-0 lead.
It was all too easy for the Dragons on twenty-two with Paul Seguier at the end of a passing move to go over. Keighran added a third goal of the night to further extend the home sides advantage.
On the half time hooter Keighran opted to have a tilt at a fifty-five-metre penalty goal but he was wide of the uprights, FC scoreless and trailing by fourteen at the interval.
Within two minutes of the restart the Dragons were in again as Mickael Goudemand took the pass to go over. Keighran added the conversion for 20-0, the game already beyond the visitors, it was now just a matter of the winning margin.
The Dragons onslaught showed no sign of slowing when on forty-eight SioSiua Takeiaho added his name to the try scorer list as any one of half a dozen Dragons could have gone in. Keighran hit the mark again for 26-0.
Goudemand was held up over the line after a great effort by Liam Sutcliffe on fifty-five but within a minute Keighran slid over for the fifth Dragons try after a repeat set on the FC line. The Dragons centre added the conversion to his try, his sixth goal of the night.
Inside the last ten minutes Andre Savelio was able to stretch for the line and ground for some consolation for the visitors, enabling them to avoid being nilled. Jake Clifford added the extras for 32-6.
The final try of the game came on seventy-eight when Ben Garcia took a Jullien Bousquet pass to cross. Keighran maintained his impeccable record with the boot for a final score of 38-6.
Hull started the game on the back foot and never got into the game as they were steamrollered by a Catalans Dragons side boosted by their vociferous home support. The Dragons finished the game just short of the points needed to go top, but they are nestled comfortably into second spot, and while Hull FC remain in fourth for a couple of hours, if the results in the remaining round three fixtures go against them, they could finish the night in the bottom half of the table. On this showing the Dragons are looking like the real deal again in 2023.
Catalans Dragons: Mourgue, Davies, Keighran (T, 7G), Romano, Johnstone (T), Rouge, May, Navarrete, McIlorum, Bousquet (T), Seguier (T), McMeeken, Garcia. Subs: Goudemand (T), Chan, Taukeiaho (T), Dezaria. 18th Man: Laguerre.
Hull FC: Hoy, Swift, Sutcliffe, Scott, McIntosh, McNamara, Clifford (G), Evans, Dwyer, Satae, Lane, Griffin, Fash. Subs: Brown, Lovodua, Sao, Savelio (T). 18th Man: Houghton.
Score Progression: 2-0, 6-0, 8-0, 12-0, 14-0 : HT : 18-0, 20-0, 24-0, 26-0, 30-0, 32-0, 32-4, 32-6, 36-6, 38-6 : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Catalans.
Referee: Marcus Griffiths.