Farrell’s Forum; Catalans win marks their improvement

Catalan Dragons Remi Casty scores their opening try during the Stobart Super League match at Langtree Park, St Helens. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday February 24, 2012. See PA story RUGBYL St Helens. Photo credit should read: PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Catalan Dragons Remi Casty scores their opening try during the Stobart Super League match at Langtree Park, St Helens. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday February 24, 2012. See PA story RUGBYL St Helens. Photo credit should read: PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY

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In my never-ending search for rugby league column perfection, I endeavour to bring you news, views and comment about the game which both you and I love.

However, on occasions my creative juices fail to flow quite as freely as I would like and I sometimes turn to the world of Facebook for inspiration for my rugby league related ramblings.

I do this by asking my ‘friends’ to suggest words to incorporate into this column.

Some may see this as a tad ostentatious, I may even agree, but see if you can spot them anyway. Self-satisfaction will be your only reward.

And so to the rugby itself. At the end of last week’s column I pointed you in the direction of St Helens v Catalans as my pick of the Stobart Super League round four fixtures.

However, as regular readers of this column will know, my predictive skills are poor at best, so I was practically flabbergasted when the contest became an early season contender for game of season.

Not least in thanks to Catalans’ remarkable comeback from 26-8 down, to clinch victory with a chaotic, grandstand finale.

A finale which saw Catalans tie the game with the very last play of game, before Scott Dereau – who executed an outrageous piece of skill in the build-up to that try – kicked the match-winning goal from the touchline, with the very last kick of the match.

It was a climax which Saints’ new home, Langtree Park, had never seen the likes of before, but one befitting of the now antiquated Knowsley Road, Saints’ former home, where they seemingly traded in incredible finishes to Super League matches in years gone by.

However, this juxtaposition of ‘bouncebackability’, and Gallic flair, verve and guile, showed by Catalans, could well see them emerge from top eight also-rans into genuine Grand Final contenders come October.

A situation if it were to arise, I for one would applaud, as the continued development of the Catalans club – and rugby league in France – is dependent, to a large degree, on the on-field successes of the Stade Gilbert Brutus outfit.

I couldn’t let this week pass without mentioning Sam Tomkins’ wonderful hat-trick to mark his 100th Wigan appearance against a beleaguered Castleford Tigers.

Tomkins, the rugby league equivalent of Marmite, polarises opinion, he is both loved and reviled in equal measure.

I stand firmly in the camp of those who marvel at the Wigan man’s talent and love to watch him with the ball in hand, running at defences – particularly a broken line from a poor kick-chase, at which he is arguably the best British exponent since Jason Robinson.

Tomkins’ hat-trick means that he has now scored 78 tries in his 100 appearances for the Cherry and Whites, despite not turning 23 until later this month.

As rugby league lovers, we can only hope that Tomkins Jr can withstand the temptations and lucrative offers of the 15-a-side code that his elder brother, Joel, succumbed to, as his loss would be a terrible blow to fans of our game.

Despite Castleford’s mauling at the hands of Wigan, they may well have something, or rather someone, to cheer, in the not too distant future, as England international second-row, Gareth Ellis, has announced his intention to return to the UK and ply his trade back in the Super League for the 2013 season.

Castleford is Ellis’ hometown club and the team which he supported as a boy, and he has made no secret of the fact that he would like to finish his career at The PROBIZ Coliseum, formerly known as Wheldon Road.

However, as one of the top back-rowers in the game, one of only a handful of British players to earn not only the respect, but admiration of the Australian players, media and fans, and as West Tigers’ player of the year for the past three consecutive seasons, Ellis is bound to be in demand upon his return to the UK and the Tigers of Castleford are sure to face some stiff competition for his signature.