3rd December 2016, 10:55 | catalans
Catalans Dragons’ tenth year in Super League was a season of two halves.
After a recruitment drive, which saw the likes of Glenn Stewart, Dave Taylor and Willie Mason make the move to Perpignan from the NRL, expectations were high.
Despite opening defeats to Wigan and Hull FC, the Dragons edged Leeds 32-28 in round three which sparked a run of seven wins from their next eight matches.
Following their 42-32 win over Salford at the end of April, Laurent Frayssinous’ side sat second in the table, level on points with leaders Warrington, and looked to be assured of a top-four and play-off spot should their form continue.
Unfortunately for the Dragons it didn’t as a series of injury setbacks to numerous key players in the second-half of the season saw them drop down the table.
Catalans lost their final six regular season games which meant they headed into the Super 8s two points adrift of fourth-placed and in-form St Helens.
The Dragons’ fortunes didn’t improve and five defeats from seven saw them finish the season in sixth place and miss out on a play-off spot.
One positive Catalans can take away from the season was the way in which their young French academy players embraced their opportunity once the Dragons were hit with an injury crisis.
Frayssinous fielded 13 French players in their 20-18 defeat to Warrington in June – a perfect illustration of the progression of Rugby League in the south of France following the Dragons’ decade in the competition.
Catalans’ head coach will be disappointed with the way his side faltered away towards the end of the season following their promising start to the campaign.
What will have pleased Frayssinous however is the way the club’s academy players rose to the challenge when the Dragons’ injury crisis saw them get their chance.
Youngsters such as Lucas Albert, Alexis Da Costa and Wigan-bound Romain Navarette all impressed and it will be interesting to see how many of the club’s academy players are in Frayssinous’ plans for 2017.
Laurent Frayssinous keeps a watchful eye on the Dragons.
2016's top performer: Jodie Broughton.
After a difficult two years at Huddersfield, Jodie Broughton’s move to the south of France has seen him kick-start his career.
The winger scored 19 tries in 2016 including four in the Dragons’ 30-12 win over St Helens in April.
In round three Catalans survived a late fightback from reigning champions Leeds to secure their first win of the season with a 32-28 victory.
The Dragons celebrate in their home win over Leeds Rhinos.
Richie Myler and Juston Horo take down Leeds' Jimmy Keinhorst.
The Dragons were 24-8 ahead after 48 minutes but tries from Liam Sutcliffe and Ryan Hall reduced the deficit to four points.
Dave Taylor’s second score and a penalty from Pat Richards increased Catalans’ lead before a late Kallum Watkins try set up a nervy finish but the Dragons managed to hold on until the hooter.
Youngster Lucas Albert finished off a fantastic team try in Catalans’ final game of the season away at Wigan.
Slick passing from the Dragons kept the ball alive and saw winger Jordan Sigismeau break out wide before finding Richie Myler on his inside who flicked the ball to Albert to go over.