22nd October 2018, 13:00 | catalans
Catalans Dragons season could have been so different had it not have been for the signing of Josh Drinkwater in April. The calming influence creatively that he represented revolutionised the Dragons’ attack. Gone was unstructured and disjointed play and in its place was the ferocity on both sides of the ball that returned the Challenge Cup across the channel.
Best Moment: After winning the Challenge Cup, the Dragons were treated to a great honour, parading the Challenge Cup at Camp Nou to a partisan crowd of 76,000. At the request of FC Barcelona, the victorious Dragons completed a lap of honour to a warm reception during the all-Catalan affair between Barcelona and Girona.
🎥🔵🔴🏉 Vainqueurs historiques de la Challenge Cup en rugby à XIII, les @DragonsOfficiel ont reçu un hommage du Camp Nou à la mi-temps de #BarçaGirona ! Plus d'infos 👉 https://t.co/AFs6LfhPIN pic.twitter.com/pc1Vy1kICv— FC Barcelona (@fcbarcelona_fra) September 23, 2018
Best Win (Catalans Dragons 20-14 Warrington Wolves): At the Wembley showpiece, the Dragons showed their steel to steal the cup from the Wolves, the overwhelming favourites coming into the match. With a 100% completion rate in the first stanza, the Dragons held off a blistering comeback to take the trophy to France for the first time.
Best Player (Josh Drinkwater): Prior to debuting for the Dragons in Round 13, Les Dracs had won just 3 games. In the next 16 games, the Dragons registered 12 wins and a draw. His measured kick game and his ability to control play represents much of the reason Catalans came away with a trophy and a Super 8s berth.
Record Breakers: Julian Bousquet made his 150thappearance for the Dragons, Vincent Duport made his 200thcareer appearance, Mickaëal Simon made his 100thappearance for the Dragons and his 150thcareer appearance.
La ‘haka’ dels @DragonsOfficiel ha fet ressonar el Pati dels Tarongers en la recepció que hem fet per celebrar la lliga guanyada. Ens han traslladat una energia que ens anirà molt bé pels pròxims mesos. pic.twitter.com/PPnUnhwMlh— Quim Torra i Pla (@QuimTorraiPla) September 23, 2018
Worst Loss (Castleford Tigers 41-0 Catalans Dragons): Marking the end of a torrid first half of the Super League season, the Dragons were slayed convincingly by the Tigers and failed to register a point. This would mark the turning point of their season, as the Dragons would pick up form to register 17 points from their next available 26.
Best Quote:“We had fire in our belly and it’s why we are so proud to achieve this” – Remi Casty after their maiden Challenge Cup win, becoming the first non-British team to win the trophy in its history.
“Yes Papa!” The quote that led Catalans to Challenge Cup victory, courtesy of Remi Casty’s daughter.
2019 Outlook: Reaching the Super 8s and the Challenge Cup final represented enough success to justify their Super 8s slowdown, but their mid-season form showed what a Catalans side can achieve at full pelt. Sam Tomkins might be the marque in 2019 but signing Matty Smith will be pivotal, as the former Wigan Warrior will need to step into Josh Drinkwater’s shoes seamlessly.