Steve McNamara’s relief for Challenge Cup win after flu bug hits Catalans Dragons

Catalans Dragons came off their sick-beds to beat Featherstone Rovers in the Challenge Cup after a bout of flu ravaged the squad last week.

Coach Steve McNamara revealed his players had been hit by illness in the build-up to Saturday’s game and it had taken its toll on the team’s performance in an edgy cup battle in Perpignan.

He told League Express, “There are a few reasons for us not to do well tonight, we had a lot of flu and illness in the camp.

“I was a little concerned, going into the game, for Josh Drinkwater and Matthieu Laguerre in particular.

“But we got through against a good Featherstone side who really pushed us, especially in the first-half.”

Rovers ran up two early tries and led 8-10 at the interval but late scores by Tyrone May and Tom Davies ensured the Dragons went through to the quarter-finals.

But McNamara insists his side will have to improve to have any hope of beating St Helens in the next round.

He said, ““Winning the game was the important thing, but we’ve not played well for our last two games and that’s what we need to look at.

“We need to fix it, as staff and a group of players and that is the question I have just posed in the changing rooms.

“Credit to Featherstone, it was a bizarre start to the game where we find ourselves ten-nil down but we managed to fight our way back into it and winning is all that matters in the Challenge Cup.

“I thought our attack was horrible, we had so much field position in the first half. It’s not just about your playmakers, the whole team needs to be on.

“I felt we were physical and direct enough to get back into the game but it took a while to get level and a bit longer to get in front, but eventually we got it done.

“It’s a win. These are difficult stages of the season and we are into the quarter-final in two weeks’ time and while we haven’t played as well as we would have liked to in the last two games, you must give the opposition credit and both Featherstone and Hull Kingston Rovers have caused us some trouble.”

McNamara singled out Tyrone May and Sam Kasiano as influential in the victory over Featherstone, adding : “Tyrone came up with a couple of plays and an important try for us and he will be better for playing in that position (he replaced the suspended Mitchell Pearce at stand-off).

“And we needed Kas today to shift the momentum for us and he surely did that, scoring another important try for us.

“But need to get back to our best form in six days’ time.”

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