Rugby League Expert & Columnist
Brian Carney on Catalans' Challenge Cup win and the future he hopes to see for the French club
Last Updated: 28/08/18 4:50pm
Brian Carney reflects on the Dragons' Challenge Cup final win, and what he hopes to see from Catalans in the future...
Bravo to Catalans for winning their first bit of silverware! Their success against Warrington represents a high point in a season that started off so badly for them, you had feared that another fight for survival and a Million Pound Game was on the cards.
I hope that the whole organisation is savouring the title; it does not come round often in a career, and for some players it never comes. But I hope they also have one eye on the future. I do not want to take anything away from the Dragons, as it was a monumental effort to get to Wembley and win it, but I would like to take time to separate the achievement and the victory.
The achievement was brilliant, and the players are right to be proud of it. Let's dive a little deeper into the performance.
If they were to review that game they would be shocked at the amount of chances they gave the Wolves. After a near-flawless first half with the ball, time and time again in the second stanza they coughed up cheap possession, and invited the Wolves to attack their line.
Catalans were helped by the fact that no matter how many chances they offered, Warrington just were not able to get back into the game. Essentially the Dragons were the better of two teams performing below their best.
There's an old saying; consistency breeds brilliance. If you want to be a good side you have to keep winning games, and therefore winning silverware. If the Dragons lose the next five games then no matter what people say, their cup final win will be tarnished.
The reason I say this is not to rain on the Dragons' parade, but in the hope that they have many more parades to come. I would love to see the sport grow in France, and to do that the Dragons need to do more than win more than a trophy - they need to keep winning and keep challenging for titles, particularly in Super League. They are not there yet, and that for me is the task facing Steve MacNamara and his players going forward.
Now, I do not expect Catalans to beat Castleford on Saturday, it's a tough ask at any point in the season and even more so after the figurative hangover of a cup final. But they should be targeting a strong finish to the season to prove themselves as a big club with a big future, not a club looking back on past success.
And what of the Wolves? They have a perfect opportunity to make amends for their Wembley loss as they host Hull on Thursday night, live on Sky Sports.
Warrington did not fire in last week's final, and that was down to their key players not performing. The people you need to do well in order to win a game are your full-back, your halves and your hooker, and none of the players in those positions stood out for the Wolves at Wembley. You can survive one not playing well, two and your backs are against the wall, but any more than that and you'd find it near impossible to win a game.
But there is no time to rest on the performance. Unlike the Dragons, the Wolves still have a semi-final place to play for, so they cannot afford any hangover this week. If they need any motivation, they have it in the form of the Giants who are breathing down their necks.
Steve Price's side also face a Hull team with nothing left to play for this season, and though Lee Radford will not allow his charges to just pitch up at the Halliwell Jones stadium and roll over, you cannot imagine that they will be the sternest test that Warrington face this season. If the Black and Whites have not given up on this season, they are doing a very good impression of it.
The Wolves are quite possible one win away from a play-off place, and how they go about their business on Thursday will show us how serious they are about the Super League season, and how much further they want to take it. One trophy is gone, but all hope is not.