2020 Season Review: Catalans Dragons

Catalans Dragons were hoping to mount more of a playoff push in 2020, after disappointing fall the year before.

Background

To combat this, they brought in Tom Davies from Wigan, Josh Drinkwater returned from Hull KR, joining teammate Joel Tomkins at the Dragons and Australian international James Maloney came in from the NRL.

Perhaps most eye-catching of all was the signing of Israel Folau. Folau had been sacked by Rugby Australia over a social media post which said hell awaits homosexuals.

Meanwhile, Greg Bird had retired, Kenny Edwards went to Huddersfield, Matty Smith joined Widnes, Jodie Broughton signed for Halifax and Tony Gigot joined Toronto Wolfpack.

Disjointed start

Matt Whitley. Credit: RL Photos

They opened the season at home to Huddersfield Giants, but fell to a disappointing 32-12 defeat.

Their next game at Wakefield Trinity fell victim to Storm Ciara, so it would be another week before the Dragons were in action.

A week later, back in the south of France, they got their first win of the season against Castleford Tigers. A Sam Tomkins hat-trick, and other efforts from Folau, Samisoni Langi and Fouad Yaha got the Dragons off the mark.

Once again, the Dragons found themselves without a game a week later, as their opponents St Helens were taking part in the World Club Challenge, so had to rearrange.

The Dragons were back on the road, and faced Hull FC, and won what turned out to be a thriller, 34-29. Two tries from Benjamin Jullien, and others from Langi, Yaha, Drinkwater and Maloney earned the win.

Catalans made it three straight wins, as they got past Salford Red Devils at the Stade Gilbert Brutus. Two tries from Matt Whitley, and others from Micky McIlorum, Yaha and Lewis Tierney earned a 30-12 win.

A week later, Leeds Rhinos were forced into isolation, and increasing concern over the coronavirus saw their visit postponed.

Soon after, the game was suspended completely as both France and the UK went into lockdown.

Restart

Tom Davies. Credit: RL Photos

It would not be until August when the Dragons played again, but they were beaten 34-6 by the Saints.

A week later, their match with Castleford seemed to be going the same way as they went 14-0 down early on.

But two tries from Davies, and other tries from Folau, Joel Tomkins, Benajmin Garcia, Jason Baitieri and Alrix da Costa earned a 40-14 victory.

The Dragons then put down a real marker, as they beat Wakefield Trinity 58-0 in St Helens. Hat-tricks from Whitley and Davies, two tries from Langi, and other efforts from Yaha and Julian Bousquet completed the rout.

As a result of the reshaped season, Catalans were one of the unlucky ones to not get a bye to the Quarter Finals of the Challenge Cup.

They faced Wakefield Trinity in Huddersfield, but it was a much closer match than the league game the week before.

A hat-trick from David Mead, and others from Yaha, Garcia and Whitley earned a 36-24 victory.

Return to France

In September, Catalans went back to the Stade Gilbert Brutus, when they faced Wigan, but they fell to a 28-12 defeat in front of 5,000 fans.

The Dragons fell out of the Challenge Cup a week later, as they lost in extra time against Salford.

It was soon three defeats in a row, as they lost against Warrington, in a match where Catalans almost didn’t make it.

Due to storms in Perpignan, the Dragons had to make a two-hour trip to Toulouse to get their flight to Liverpool, they arrived an hour before kick off.

That run was brought to an end as they faced a youthful Leeds side at Headingley. A hat-trick from Davies, two from Yaha and another for Arthur Mourgue completed a 34-6 win.

Catalans then went back to the south of France and managed to get past Wakefield for back-to-back wins. Two tries from Mead, and other efforts from Whitley, Folau, Tomkins, Bousquet and Sam Kasiano earned a 40-8 win.

A week later, they hosted Hull KR and claimed a third straight win, the third time of the season where they won a third game in a row.

A hat-trick from Joel Tomkins, two from Davies and others from Garcia and Folau completed a 34-4 win.

Disruption and Playoffs

However, an outbreak of coronavirus at Wigan and then the Dragons made sure it was the final game the Dragons played in the regular season.

They qualified for the playoffs, and had to take on Challenge Cup winners Leeds. Tries from Davies, Folau, Langi and Mead saw the Dragons within 80 minutes of the Grand Final.

It was the champions St Helens who stood in their way, but they slumped to a 48-2 defeat.

It was a disappointing end, but they could be well placed to go for another challenge at the top of the table.

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