Catalan Dragons will be hoping it’s a case of ‘deja vu’ when they face the Huddersfield Giants in tonight’s play-off clash at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Although the men from the South of France don’t have the greatest of records in Huddersfield, it was still the venue of one of their finest Super League hours.
That came in 2009 when Greg Bird inspired the Dragons to a 16-6 play-off win at the same stage before going on to push Leeds Rhinos all the way in the semi-finals.
Thomas Bosc, Olivier Elima and Vincent Duport are the only survivors from the Dragons team that day, with Catalan coach Laurent Frayssinous, who was assistant to Kevin Walters in 2009, reckoning reaching the last four this year would represent a bigger achievement after their dismal start to the season in which they won just one of their first seven fixtures, coincidently against Huddersfield.
“There are similarities but I thought this season was pretty tough, especially with the difficult start we had,” said Frayssinous.
“A few media after round seven said: ‘you will be the first team to be relegated’.
“We did a good enough job to make the play-offs and now we are in the second round, so we stick together during the tough moments.”
Tonight’s match will mark hooker Eloi Pelissier’s 100th appearance for the Dragons, with Frayssinous sticking with the side that won at Leeds, and Australian scrum-half Sam Williams hoping to extend his stay at the French club for at least one more week.