There were doubts over Catalans’ title credentials in 2022 after defeat to Champions St Helens and a less than convincing win over Wakefield in the opening two rounds, but those doubts now seem a thing of the past.
The Dragons have beaten three of the league’s biggest clubs in the last three games despite a number of notable absentees.
Tonight they defeated the previously unbeaten Wigan Warriors 28-0 with the Dragons’ spine particularly standing out cementing themselves as the biggest threat to St Helens’ crown again in 2022.
Looking back on his side’s performance, Catalans Head Coach Steve McNamara was particularly proud.
“It was really efficient,” McNamara said after the game, “We knew the conditions would be bad so we set ourselves all week for a really basic performance but I thought we were efficient.
“In the first 30 minutes we kept Wigan at bay and got the scoreboard rolling. Once you get in front on a day like this it’s very difficult for the other team to bring it back.
“It was really simple what we did. Our halves controlled it really well and we had a high completion rate. We scored tries off effort, we chased kicks and pounced on errors. That’s how you have to win those games.”
The game saw Catalans leapfrog Wigan into third just behind Huddersfield who defeated Castleford earlier today. Ahead of Wigan in the table and having finished above them last season, there’s a feeling the Dragons could join Wigan and co as one of the biggest teams in the league.
In this respect, when asked how far Catalans are from the Wigan club, McNamara said: “120 years in terms of tradition, you build a club on strong foundations and they’ve been like that for a long time. They’re not always going to win but they’re always going to compete. They do so many things so well at their club and we respect that as a new organisation.”
It wasn’t all perfect for his side today as Jordan Dezaria was sent off late on following a fight with Wigan’s Kaide Ellis. McNamara was very frank about the situation and had no complaints: “He retaliated and threw a punch and the rules say it’ll be a red card. He will get a ban for that.”
The game also saw Arthur Romano feature for the second consecutive week after a 2021 ruined by injury. He didn’t let anyone down in the wet and McNamara was full of praise for him after a difficult 12 months: “He’s a great kid, he has worked so hard, he’s had some terrible injuries. The staff love him, the boys love him because of his attitude and resilience.
“Tonight Fouad Yaha was available for selection but we didn’t need him as he recovered from a slight tweak at Warrington. I thought it was a little bit early for him and I thought the conditions suited Arthur’s game.”
Yaha could very well return next week for the game against Hull KR as could Sam Kasiano after he missed tonight’s game through a couple of niggles.
Catalans didn’t miss their big prop with Joe Chan standing up and Mike McMeeken again shining at prop having made the switch earlier this season.
When asked if McMeeken could stay in the front row, his coach said: “He’s done a great job but we also know what a good job he can do at second-row. Thing with Mike is he’s willing to do what job’s needed for the team.
“We’ll see what we need moving forward but he’s done a fantastic job for us this season.”
All of this shows the strength in depth Catalans now possess as they look to compete with the biggest clubs and this is certainly an aim for McNamara: “When you look at the differences between us and Wigan, I think that is one of the areas they excel and that’s something I’m hell bent on doing here, trying to create more depth in our squad with young players not just playing but making good contributions.”