Steve McNamara says the pressure is getting to his Catalan players
Last Updated: 16/09/17 12:01am
Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara admits the pressure is getting to his players after they scraped a 20-19 victory over Hull KR to boost their survival hopes.
McNamara arrived in Perpignan too late to prevent their slide into the Qualifiers but has overseen three successive wins and knows victory in their final match against Widnes next Saturday will ensure their place in Super League for 2018.
However, the Dragons were far from impressive against a vastly understrength but already-promoted Robins outfit and McNamara says that is down to the anxiety created by the Super 8s.
"Nearly every game in the competition has been like that," said the former England boss.
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"We had to fight and scrap and find a way to win under very tough circumstances. For Hull KR, the pressure was off and you could see that from the way they played, they had the freedom to express themselves.
"We played with anxiety and pressure hanging over us.
"The system is quite clearly not a good thing for clubs. I understand the concept and now I'm involved and very close to it, it makes it really difficult to get planned and organised.
"I take my hat off to Hull KR, who got the job done and got players in for operations ready for next year. That's huge.
"We've one more game and hopefully we can get past that and plan for 2018 after that.
"We knew had to win our last four games and, if we beat Widnes next week, we're in the competition but every single game is a fight."
Hull KR, with just six players from last Saturday's promotion-clinching team, looked to have pulled off a comeback victory when tries from Ben Cockayne - leading the side on his final home appearance - Will Oakes and George Lawler helped them turn an 8-0 half-time deficit into a 19-8 lead.
But the Catalans hit back with two tries in the last 10 minutes from former Rovers winger Iain Thornley and centre Brayden Williame, both converted by Luke Walsh, and watched Hull KR half-back Chris Atkin miss with both a late penalty and a drop goal.
McNamara said he always remained confident his side could come back to win.
"With two scores in it, you know if you can get one back, you can score another," he said.
"I was actually really pleased with the first half. We were solid and defended strongly and, at 8-0, I was feeling good. But Hull KR came up with some great trick plays and the crowd made a difference, they really helped them out."
Catalans' victory was a blow for Widnes, whose coach Denis Betts was hoping for a favour from Hull KR.
"We had a kick at goal to win it and stuffed up the field goal to win a point so I won't be able to answer the phone from Denis Betts," said Rovers coach Tim Sheens.
"I'm happy with effort, though. We had one training session to put it together.
"I don't think there was much in it, which is credit to us. They were pretty much at full strength, whereas we were close to our back-up side.
"We had a lot of inexperience in that side but I'm really happy with the way everyone had a dig.
"We were pretty much gone with 10 minutes to go. We lost a couple of guys, including Rob Mulhern who's done his pectoral muscle and couldn't go back on."