Challenge Cup: Catalans skipper Ben Garcia wary of Featherstone

James Gordon
Ben Garcia Catalans Dragons SWpix

Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Catalans captain Ben Garcia says they won’t be taking the visit of Championship leaders Featherstone lightly in the Challenge Cup this weekend.

It’s only the second home match the Dragons have played in the competition since their historic win at Wembley in 2018.

And Featherstone will travel with nothing to lose, and will want to go one better than when the two sides met at the same stage in 2015 and Catalans sneaked home by three points.

Ben Garcia said: “We will focus on ourselves. We know that these are tricky matches because sometimes there’s a bit of a lack of concentration.

“I looked at little at the rankings and they are first, they are undefeated and they have a lot of former Super League and even NRL players.

“We know it’s not going to be an easy match.

“I think in the cup this year its four games to win it and that’s something you really want to do, and it starts on Saturday.”

Coach Steve McNamara is likely to rest some of his big guns and give minutes to fringe players in the Catalans squad.

Quiz: Can you name Catalans squad that won Challenge Cup final in 2018?

Recent Challenge Cup runs

In the sixth round in 2015, Featherstone came close to a big upset – eventually going down 37-34 at Stade Gilbert Brutus.

Late tries from Morgan Escare and Thomas Bosc in the final eight minutes rescued the Dragons from 30-24 down.

Only Fouad Yaha and Julian Bousquet remain in the Catalans squad from the 17 that day.

Featherstone have already navigated two tricky ties to reach the sixth round; winning away at both Halifax and Batley in previous rounds.

The 1895 Cup holders will already have their sights on a trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at the end of May.

They, along with the four other remaining Championship sides in the Challenge Cup, are potentially just one win away from the double-header event.

At this stage last season, they were beaten 34-14 at home by Hull FC, who also beat them in the sixth round in 2018.

In 2017, they made it to the quarter-finals, losing 58-0 at Leeds.

They do have some history in knocking out Super League opposition though, beating local rivals Castleford back in 2012.

It will be only the fifth meeting between the two sides; with all the previous four encounters going the way of the French side.

Their last meeting was in The Qualifiers in 2017, when the Dragons won 26-12 in Perpignan in front of 8,649.

Featherstone do have experience of winning in knock-out ties in France in recent seasons though. They won 36-12 at Toulouse on their way to the Million Pound Game in 2019.

Challenge Cup sixth round fixtures

  • Wigan v Salford (Friday, 7.35pm)
  • Sheffield v Hull (Saturday, 2pm)
  • Whitehaven v St Helens (Saturday, 2pm)
  • Catalans v Featherstone (Saturday, 2.30pm)
  • Hull KR v Leigh (Saturday, 3pm)
  • Leeds v Castleford (Saturday, 4.30pm)
  • Warrington v Wakefield (Sunday, 2pm)
  • Barrow v Huddersfield (Sunday, 4.30pm)