Castleford Tigers’ hopes of finishing in the top four suffered a huge blow when they suffered a costly 44-26 defeat in France against Catalans Dragons.
Daryl Powell’s men were made to pay for a poor start when they conceded five penalties in 12 minutes and found themselves 20-0 down after 22 minutes
The Dragons had to play more than 50 minutes with 12 men after Ben Pomeroy suffered his second successive sending off for a highly dangerous tackle on Ashley Gibson, who was stretchered off with his neck in a brace.
But they already had their big lead by then and it was too late to make much of an impact.
Cas were simply not at the races at the beginning and what could go wrong did go wrong at times as they also lost skipper Michael Shenton to a shoulder injury.
Catalans took the lead in only the second minute when Tony Gigot went over for the first of what would turn out to be a hat-trick.
With Catalans having all the early ball and given boosters by referee Ben Thaler’s heavy penalty count against the Tigers it was quickly a backs to the wall job and Cas were found wanting as Zeb Taia and Jeff Lima scored further tries.
Todd Carney was next to go over from Thomas Bosc’s well timed pass and Bosc’s third goal made it 20-0.
Catalans were reduced to 12 men, however, on 28 minutes when Ben Pomeroy - ironically just back from a suspension - was red carded after dropping Gibson on his head in a poor tackle that will surely earn him a lengthy suspension.
Gibson played no further part in the game after his neck was placed in a brace and he was carried off.
Within a minute Cas took advantage of their extra man as Gale’s astute kick found Justin Carney in space and the Australian winger touched down for the first points for his team.
Gale goaled, but the Tigers could not kick on and conceded again from the last play of the half, Morgan Escare luckily seeing the ball bounce off his knee from Taia’s offload and having the pace to race 70 metres for a try converted by Bosc.
Cas started the second half brightly and briefly had hopes of a comeback as Oliver Holmes charged over in the corner from Michael Shenton’s pass. Bosc slid in with his feet as the Tigers player was scoring, but no further penalty came and Gale could add the touchline conversion.
Within three minutes Gigot was over in the corner for Catalans from a pass over the top by Todd Carney and Bosc’s goal made it 32-10.
Again the visitors hit back as Adam Milner, now playing on the wing after Shenton went off injured, did well to reach a Gale grubber kick over the line.
But once more the Dragons replied as Gigot intercepted Justin Carney’s pass and raced clear for a try goaled by Bosc.
Castleford continued to throw the ball about only to make mistakes as they looked to score on every play.
They were rewarded on 70 minutes when Junior Moors forced his way over the line and Gale converted.
However, back came Catalans and Escare took Elima’s offload to score his second try.
Cas did score last, but it was just a consolation when Milner grabbed his second out on the wing after taking Gale’s long pass over the top.
Scorers - Catalans: Tries Gigot 3, Taia, Lima, Carney, Escare 2; goals Bosc 6. Castleford: Tries Carney, Holmes, Milner 2, Moors; goals Gale 3.
Catalans Dragons: Escare; Inu, Gigot, Pomeroy, Sigismeau; Carney, Bosc; Elima, Pelissier, Lima, Taia, Whitehead, Baitieri. Subs: Henderson, Anderson, Garcia, Bosquet.
Castleford Tigers: Roberts; Gibson, Channing, Shenton, Carney; Finn, Gale; Lynch, Milner, Millington, Holmes, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: McShane, Moors, Springer, Cook.
Referee: Ben Thaler.