An injury-hit Widnes side put in a brave showing before eventually succumbing 21-8 to the Dragons and fall to a third successive defeat.
It was the fourth of a difficult run of games for early pace-setters Widnes, who have been without talisman Kevin Brown and a host of others since the impressive win at Wigan that had the media cooing over their early season form.
Never victorious in their previous four trips to Perpignan, Widnes got off to a poor start when Pat Richards walked in at the left corner. A break in midfield by Vincent Duport laid the platform and after Joe Mellor had got back to tackle and stop the move, a poor read by winger Corey Thompson left opposite number Richards free to score.
Despite their depleted numbers, increased when centre Charly Runciman departed proceedings to not return inside 10 minutes, Widnes stood up well to the home side.
It wasn’t a game for the purist, and at half time the Dragons held a slender 4-0 lead, with Widnes unable to spark anything in attack despite a number of good opportunities. Their frustrations perhaps told as they opted to kick a penalty from 40 metres with over a minute left on the clock, which Rhys Hanbury ultimately shanked wide.
Catalans added a second try early in the second half, the imperious Dave Taylor sucking in a host of defenders and then finding Vincent Duport to walk in on the left.
But Widnes grew in stature in the game and started to force considerable pressure on the Catalans line. They finally got the reward when Mellor’s fine long pass caught Richards out of position and Thompson was able to go over.
Hanbury added the extras and then a simple penalty as Widnes levelled the scores.
With 20 minutes to go, Widnes were on the front foot. They opted not to take a drop goal at 8-8, and the momentum swung as Catalans were piggybacked up the other end by a couple of penalties.
That enabled the Dragons to probe the Widnes line and they eventually got over, somewhat fortuitously on 67 minutes.
Widnes academy graduate Richie Myler’s kick to the corner was snaffled by Richards, and though he was wrapped up by Thompson, on the next tackle Taylor managed to get the ball away under pressure from three defenders. Duport kicked on, it bounced up kindly off Thompson and there was no stopping Taylor from close range.
That was the straw that broke the Widnes back, and after Thomas Bosc had added a drop goal to make it a two score game, Eloi Pellissier finished the scoring close to the posts.
Widnes handed Super League debuts to Sam Brooks and Jordan Johnstone.