Season Review: Catalans Dragons
"We'll do whatever it takes, we've said that right from the start."
Steve McNamara and his Catalans Dragons side have faced greater adversity than any other Betfred Super League side in 2020.
Some wondered whether Dragons could sustain a challenge amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dragons were forced to fly to England on the day of their matches at a cost of £50,000 per game to owner Bernard Guasch. Never once did they complain. They got on with the job and helped Super League retain a meaningful competition.
There is no better example of their commitment than their players driving to Toulouse to board a plane to face Warrington Wolves after their private jet was blown off course.
On the pitch, Dragons remained the epitome of inconsistency. Superb one week and abject the next. They are the most unpredictable of Super League clubs.
After scoring a combined 98 points in wins over Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity away from home, Dragons were resoundingly beaten in front of 5,000 supporters by Wigan Warriors – perhaps the best example of their inconsistency.
Despite only playing 13 matches, they did find enough form to secure a semi-final spot for the first time since 2014. Their challenge coming to an end at the hands of St Helens.
Rather than 2020 being an outlier, the hope will be that a run to the latter stages of the competition can become the norm.
Player of the year
Israel Folau’s signing was Super League’s most talked about moment before Covid-19. Despite all the controversy, he has proved a shrewd acquisition. Ben Garcia and Tom Davies have also impressed, but it has to be Sam Tomkins. The England full-back, unfairly I might add, took some criticism for his performances in 2019. There was no scope for such criticism in 2020. He ended the season with five tries and 14 assists. England head coach Shaun Wane will be hopeful that Tomkins can continue his form in a World Cup year in 2021.
After an underwhelming return to action post-lockdown with a 34-6 defeat at the hands of St Helens, Dragons got back to their best with a pummelling of Tigers a week later. Folau was the catalyst, scoring a stupendous individual try and assisting three more as the French outfit came from 14-0 down to win 40-14. It was an exceptional display of flee-flowing rugby.
In 9th place for Try of the Season 👀
Folau on his own for @DragonsOfficiel 💪 #SuperLeague pic.twitter.com/EeYmI9Cyxe
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) December 17, 2020
No other team faced the challenges Dragons did throughout 2020. Their efforts to help finish the season make them worthy recipients of an 'A' grade. There is still a way to go to match Saints and Warriors in terms of competing to win Super League, but the foundations are in place for a crack at the title in 2021.