Former NRL star James Maloney has returned from suspension to help Catalans Dragons maintain their dominance at the top of the Super League with a 40-20 victory over Wakefield Trinity at a sun-drenched Stade Gilbert Brutus.
The evergreen 35-year-old Australian kicked a perfect eight goals from eight attempts on Thursday as Catalans extended their club-record winning streak to 11 matches.
Wakefield didn't wilt in the 32-degree heat and humidity in Perpignan and kept the pressure on their hosts throughout the game, but Catalans, guided by Maloney, were too strong
Sam Tomkins was first to stride over for a try after five minutes as Catalans stretched the Wakefield defence to the left, although Wakefield hit back when loose forward Yusuf Aydin broke through to score.
Maloney put the Dragons back in front with a straightforward penalty but David Fifita smashed through the home defence and shrugged off Tomkins to plant the ball over the line in the 20th minute.
Catalans hooker Alrix Da Costa helped put his side back in front with a two-metre burst from dummy-half, before their giant prop, Sam Kasiano, cross the line on the half-hour.
The heat got to Wakefield after the break as Catalans sub Arthur Mourgue forced them into a goal-line drop-out before Maloney struck a penalty to restore the eight-point difference.
Mourgue forced a second drop-out from Trinity with a clever chip-chase, and Mickael Goudemand and Matt Whitley went close before prop Gil Dudson broke the Wakefield line with a 10-metre drive. Another successful Maloney conversion made it 28-14 with 15 minutes to go.
Fifita bagged his second try with a trademark barge between the posts and Lino's conversion put the visitors back in contention at 28-20.
They would not get any closer though, as Samisoni Langi floated a peach of a pass to winger Fouad Yaha for a 72nd minute try and Maloney's seventh conversion from wide out on the left made it 34-20.
Tom Davies crossed for the final try of the game as the hooter blew, before Maloney's toughest kick of the night from the left touchline went sailing through the sticks.
Australian Associated Press