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‘It’s lucky’: Catalans avoid red but brace for ban after St Helens shot, claims Sky pundit

St Helens

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 31/05/2024 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League: Round 13 – St Helens vs Catalans Dragons – Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens, England – St Helens and Catalans players clash.

Sky Sports pundit Sam Tomkins has claimed Catalans Dragons striker Franck Maria will be handed a suspension following his yellow card for a challenge on St Helens’ George Delaney.

The Catalans traveled to England to face St Helens and the Red Vee are looking to put some breathing space between them and Challenge Cup finalists Wigan and Warrington at the top of the Super League.

For the Catalans, they were looking to get back to winning ways and also draw level with the top trio of Saints, Wigan and Wire.

The match marked the second meeting between St Helens and the Catalans after last year’s dramatic play-off semi-final which saw Sam Tomkins dance in the 79th minute to end the Saints ‘Drive for Five’.

Earlier this season, Saints lost at Perpignan 14-8. That win marked the French team’s fifth in a row in this game, something the Saints were aiming to stop.

The mission got off to a poor start when Tom Johnstone scored in the corner when he latched on to Jordan Abdull’s shot, which was canceled out by Konrad Hurrell after a clever pass from Jack Welsby.

Those tries sandwiched one of the flashpoints of the first half when Tariq Sims landed a huge swing arm on St Helens’ George Delaney, breaking the nose of the prop and sending the Totally Wicked Stadium crowd into a frenzy.

Sims stayed on the pitch but Franck Maria wasn’t as lucky later in the half when he tackled Delaney, wrapping his arm around his head, only to be shown a yellow card.

Referee Aaron Moore explained there was “mitigation” because the initial contact was with Delaney’s back before he went up, and now the Sky Sports pundits have also had their say.

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Franck Maria received a yellow card against St Helens

Credit: Imago Images

The strike on Delaney certainly raised the bar at The Totally Wicked Stadium and meant a chorus of boos rang out at the end of the half, with the St Helens faithful making it clear they disagreed with referee Aaron Moore.

Sky Sports pundit Sam Tomkins has now had his say on the matter, claiming that Aaron Moore’s decision was the right one, but that Maria will be serving a one-match ban.

Tomkins said: “I would agree with that. The first contact is with the back of the shoulder. He didn’t go straight to the head, but there’s no doubt he makes contact, but as he swings his arm, he catches him on the shoulder before he goes up to the head.

“It’s not a nice tackle, it’s an ugly tackle and I think he’s going to get a ban from the back.”

Leeds Rhinos legend Jamie Jones-Buchanan added: “It’s a three-wood golf swing and he’s lucky it didn’t hit him straight in the head or he could have been out for a couple of weeks.

“However, I agree with the referee, according to the law it is yellow, but you have to keep the aggression under control.”