2020 Review: Catalans Dragons

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Andrew Ferguson's review of the 2020 Super League season continues today with a look at Catalans.

The Dragons were a consistently improved outfit in 2020, with their defence quite clearly the most improved. In 2019 they conceded 26.7 points per game yet in 2020 they knocked that average down to 19.9. The fact they reached the finals despite only playing 3 of 13 games in France upon the resumption of the competition only further adds to their improvement.

Catalans reached the Quarter Finals of the Challenge Cup and also managed to reach the final 4 of the Super League, despite playing less games than every other side. They magnificently dispatched of Leeds in the Semi Final with a commanding 26-14 victory, but were dominated the following week by eventual Premiers St.Helens.

Turning Point

Round 14 v Leeds - The Dragons had struggled against the top 3 sides (Leeds, Wigan and St.Helens) since 2017 (7 wins and 20 losses), so when they belted Leeds 34-6, it gave them plenty of confidence which then saw them decimate Wakefield 40-8 and Hull KR 34-4 in their next two games. Given they had played so few games, every loss had a bigger impact on their win percentage and was also thus more likely to send them packing out of the finals. This three-game-run essentially secured their place in the finals.

What Worked

Israel Folau. The controversial Australian Rugby Union and former League player, came to the club on essentially a last chance deal to continue his playing career and he had an immediate impact playing at centre. The Dragons won 7 of 11 regular season games when Folau played, and in the 5 games where he scored tries, the Dragons went on to win those matches.

What Didn't Work

Promotion of new talent. The fact they didn't get to play many games at home and also played less games than every other Super League side, really hampered their ability to bring through any new, young players. By seasons end, the Dragons had 14 players aged 29 years or over, meaning there will be some big roster changes coming across the next 1-2 seasons.

Best Player

Sam Tomkins had a strong year, one of his best in several seasons as he spent the entire season at fullback. He was at his attacking best either running the ball back or when chiming into the backline in sweeping attacking plays.

Rookies

The Dragons didn't bring through any new players in 2020 due to the impacts of Covid-19. Arthur Mourgue played 5 of his 7 games for Catalans in 2020. A handy playmaker who looks best suited at fullback, could well be next in line to take over from Sam Tomkins.

Looking Ahead

The Dragons have been relatively quiet in the offseason, but look to have already started their transition to a younger side. They've picked up forwards Gil Dudson and Mike McMeeken while letting experienced players Antoni Maria and Sam Moa both move to Lezignan, while releasing club Stalwarts Remi Casty and Mickael Simon, as well as David Mead. Lucas Albert will also be moving off to Carcassone.

With the prospects of the team returning to a normal home and away season next year, they have all the foundations in place to build on the great performance of 2020 and become even better, who knows, they may even make it to the Grand Final this time.

2020 results

RoundDateOppositionResultScoreCoachCaptainVenue
SL R1Feb 1stHuddersfieldL12 - 32McNamaraCastyGilbert Brutus
SL R3Feb 15thCastlefordW36 - 18McNamaraCastyGilbert Brutus
SL R5Mar 1stHull FCW34 - 29McNamaraCastyKCOM Stadium
SL R6Mar 7thSalfordW30 - 14McNamaraCastyGilbert Brutus
SL R4Aug 2ndSt HelensL 6 - 34McNamaraCastyEmerald Headingley
SL R8Aug 8thCastlefordW40 - 14McNamaraCastyEmerald Headingley
SL R9Aug 15thWakefieldW58 -  0McNamaraCastyTotally Wicked
CC 6RAug 22ndWakefieldW36 - 24McNamaraCastyJohn Smith's
SL R10Sep 12thWiganL12 - 28McNamaraCastyGilbert Brutus
CC QFSep 18thSalfordL18 - 22McNamaraCastyTotally Wicked
SL R13Sep 25thWarringtonL16 - 30McNamaraCastyHalliwell Jones
SL R14Sep 30thLeedsW34 -  6McNamaraCastyEmerald Headingley
SL R12Oct 4thWakefieldW40 -  8McNamaraCastyGilbert Brutus
SL R15Oct 9thHull KRW34 -  4McNamaraCastyGilbert Brutus
SL R2Nov 2ndSalfordL24 - 42McNamaraCastyAJ Bell
SL SFNov 13thLeedsW26 - 14McNamaraCastyHalliwell Jones
SL PFNov 20thSt HelensL 2 - 48McNamaraCastyTotally Wicked