Expect more drama, says McNamara

Expect more drama says Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara as he predicts more nail-biting Golden Point games in Super League 2021.

James Maloney scored the crucial one-pointer for the Dragons at Headingley to see off a stirring second-half comeback from Hull KR and while the sudden death decider is known as a coach-killer, McNamara believes it’s good for the game.

“I think that could be the norm for Super League this year,” McNamara told League Express.

“The Wakefield-Leeds and Leigh-Wigan games were both nip and tuck, going right to the death and that’s how it should be. The level of competition is so high and you have to be at your best to win games, not just turn up and take the points.

“As a professional sport we are in the entertainment industry and the sheer drama of games going right to the death is good for business.

“We only got back at 3am and I couldn’t sleep, so I’ve been watching Super League and NRL ever since. That’s how it should be.”

Catalans emerged 29-28 winners after leading 28-4 in the game, with a Ryan Hall hat-trick on his debut for the Robins putting his new club level after 80 minutes.

McNamara added: “There is a tremendous team spirit within the group and that kind of a win can only help. We’ve got a young, fresh group and they are really keen and eager.”

A man-of-the-match debut for 22-year-old centre Mathieu Laguerre and a stunning break from the bench by Arthur Mourgue to set up the winning field-goal illustrated the Dragons’ ambitions this year to bring young French players into the first team.

McNamara said: “Mathieu got his chance and we’re all delighted he grabbed it with both hands.

“You could sense it at training and see the delight on the players’ faces when he was picked, that confirmed to me that it was the right choice.

“He showed some really nice touches in attack, but to defend at that level in your first game was fantastic, he did a super job.

“Arthur was probably a little frustrated sat there on the bench for so long, but that was the way the game had gone and he is so versatile we can use him in the first minute or the last and he will give you everything.

“To ride that tackle initially and stay on his feet, then the burst of speed and power and the quick play-the-ball was incredible.

“Obviously Jimmy’s got the credit for the Golden Point, but Arthur came up with a play there that was a match-winner.”

McNamara said he will conduct a full review of the game, adding: “For 55 minutes in that game there was a lot of positive stuff for us to take out of it. Then quite clearly there was a period of time we need to take a look at.

“I thought we were tremendously disciplined throughout the game but for whatever reason it went wrong in that 25-minute period, so I need a full assessment of the situation.”

Gil Dudson and Samisoni Langi are expected to return to the squad for this Saturday’s trip to Huddersfield and McNamara will run the rule over fullback Sam Tomkins, who left the field against Rovers for a head injury assessment.

The coach said, “Gil had surgery on his elbow a month ago and we were expecting him to recover for round one but it was just a bit too early for him.

“Samisoni got a knock in the ribs at training but they both should be ok for round two this weekend.

“Sam passed his HIA but he got a whack on his knee so we’ll look at that this week. There was a bit of ice flying around the dressing room after the game, there’s nothing quite like that first hit-out to remind you how physical Rugby League is.

“There doesn’t look to be anything serious from the game but we’ll know more at training this week.”

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