As we enter the crucial months of the season, there is still so much to be excited about in the Betfred Super League.
Whether it be Castleford, Warrington and Wigan fighting for a spot in the end-of-season play-offs or Widnes, Hull KR and Salford fighting with Toronto, Toulouse and co to preserve their Super League status, so much is still undecided.
Over the next few days, we will be examining the season so far for all 12 Super League clubs, as they head into the ‘Super 8s split’. Today’s look is at the Catalans Dragons
Position after 23 rounds: 8th
Record this year: P23 W10 D1 L12
Points: F488 A531 PD-43
Season in Summary
Catalans started the season in disastrous fashion suffering five defeats in their first six games including a 26-0 defeat to Warrington at home, two more defeats in March followed by the retirement of Luke Walsh put the Dragons in real danger.
However, April brought around a knight in shining armour by the name of Josh Drinkwater. The Australian halfback signed from Leigh Centurians immediately gave the French side a new breath of life.
The Dragons went on to record wins against Huddersfield and Hull FC to move off the foot of the table and start a run of momentum that would ultimately see them into the top eight and a Challenge Cup Final.
Best Result- Hull FC (H)
Arguably their best result is the one that kickstarted their remarkable turn of fortune – a 25-24 victory over a strong Hull FC side marked a turn around in fortunes. Josh Drinkwater announced himself to the Dragons faithful with a try and six goals, while Tony Gigot’s drop goal emphasised himself as the match winner Steve McNamara hoped he could be.
14-6 down at the break and a Michael McIllorum yellow card to come Catalans showed the grit and determination to win needed if they were to achieve their goal of moving into the top eight.
Since signing mid-way through the season, 26-year-old Josh Drinkwater has been touted by many as the signing of the season due to his performances that have lifted the French side.
Registering seven tries, fourteen try assists and forty-four goals in just eleven appearances his impact is clear to see as he lays the platform for the superstars of the team such as Tony Gigot, David Mead and breakout star Fouad Yaha.
The stand out stats of Drinkwater’s influence is shown in the crunch matches this season, as mentioned Leeds Rhinos were the side demoted thanks to the resurgence of Catalans. In their two victories over the Rhinos Drinkwater posted two tries and two assists earning four vital competition points.
Things to work on
In recent weeks there hasn’t been much to work on for Steve McNamara. Add into that their recent Challenge Cup semi-final victory and there really isn’t much to complain about.
Having seemingly sorted their troubles on the road, Catalans main problem could be balancing momentum and freshness of the side heading into the Challange Cup Final.
Before the semi-final McNamara chose to rest the bulk of his squad, the risk paid off, yet with tough games against Wigan Warriors and Castleford Tigers, either side of the final balancing his squad could be key to any success for the Dragons.
What to expect going into the 8s
Catalans currently sit eight points behind Warrington in the fourth spot with Huddersfield, Hull FC and Wakefield also chasing the Wolves down.
With home games against the league leaders St. Helens, Wigan Warriors and Huddersfield some of their toughest games fall with home advantage. That leaves Warrington, Castleford, Wakefield and Hull to play on the road.
Playing with a certain degree of confidence and momentum Catalans could yet pick up a few wins in the Super 8’s, however, the top four looks to be beyond them.
The Challenge Cup will be the Dragons main aim for the remainder of the season, the result of which could make or break their run-in.