THREE weeks ago, Catalans Dragons’ season appeared to be over.
The French had just suffered a totally demoralising 34-20 home defeat to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in Perpignan and a place in the play-offs looked to have gone.
It also appeared as if it might spell the end of coach Kevin Walters’ time in charge.
But tonight, Catalans face the Giants knowing a victory would take them to within 80 minutes of reaching the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford after securing two wins against all the odds. A week after that defeat against the Wildcats, Catalans were celebrating a stunning 24-12 triumph at St Helens to claim the eighth and final play-off spot at the expense of Bradford Bulls.
That set up an elimination play-off at Wakefield when the sweetest of revenge was secured for the home loss just a fortnight before.
Walters’ men produced a power-packed performance at Belle Vue to take the honours 25-16 and set up tonight’s showdown against the Giants.
ACCORDING to reports regularly coming out of Perpignan, Catalans head coach Kevin Walters’ job has been under threat for most of the season.
Although his Dragons have sneaked into the play-offs, Walters has failed to match the achievements of predecessor Mick Potter, who secured the French a top-three finish last season.
Potter was always going to be a hard act to follow, particularly as it was former Brisbane Broncos’ No2 Walters’ first head coach’s job, but the play-off run has not done him any harm.
HAD it not been for the outstanding form of Giants’ captain Brett Hodgson, Clint Greenshields could well have been named the Super League Dream Team full-back for a second successive season.
The Australian has been a star for the Dragons for the past three seasons and he was at the heart of his side’s play-off victory at Wakefield last Saturday.
As well as being a rock-solid defender, he’s also one of the most potent attacking forces in Super League.
He comes into the line to set up teammates for tries, and he’s also a regular scorer himself.
GIANTS B Hodgson, Aspinwall, Whatuira, D Hodgson, Fulton, Robinson, Crabtree, Faiumu, D Griffin, Lolesi, Raleigh, Wild, Jackson, Mason, Lawrence, Moore, Cudjoe, Lunt, Sculthorpe.
DRAGONS Baile, Bird, Bosc, Carlaw, Casty, Duport, Elima, Fakir, Ferriol, Gossard, Greenshields, Guisset, Martins, McGuire, Mogg, Pelo, Raguin, Ryles, Touxagas.
REFEREE Steve Ganson.