Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara rated his side’s 20-16 win over Wakefield as one of the best in the club’s 17-year history as they overcame the absence of 13 regulars to strengthen their top-four spot in Super League.
France winger Fouad Yaha scored a first-half hat-trick of tries on the 150th appearance of his career to put the Dragons on their way to victory. McNamara revealed afterwards that he was close to missing the game due to a personal tragedy.
“Fouad’s grandma, who raised him, passed away during the week,” McNamara said. “He didn’t train with us all week but managed to get across for the game so to start the game as he did is a credit to him.
“The same for Cesar Rouge, whose grandad passed away and he was in all sorts of trouble during the week.”
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Steve McNamara heaps praise on Arthur Mourgue
McNamara was able to bring back Tom Davies and Tyrone May from injury. However, the withdrawal of Sam Tomkins with a knee strain meant he was down to the bare bones.
He was forced to draft in Mathieu Cozza for his first start in Super League in the front-row in the absence of three specialist props. He had a winger and a half-back on his bench.
However, Arthur Mourgue stepped into Tomkins’ shoes at full-back with aplomb. Mourgue created the first two tries for Yaha and kicked four goals from five attempts.
“He was a threat all day and defensively he was good,” McNamara said. “He kicked his goals and played that position really well today in the absence of Sam.
“I think it’s one of the best wins in the history of Catalans Dragons.
“We had 13 starting players missing and we only finalised the 17 yesterday after our travel. We had nobody else to pick. Dean Whare was 50-50 and we decided not to play him.
“The way we lost last week really hurt. And after a really turbulent week this week for a team to come together like that against a Wakefield team who was in form was incredible.
“I thought we deserved to win but it was close at the end.”
The Catalans, who have established a six-point buffer on fifth-placed Castleford, will now set up camp in north Leeds to prepare for their next game against the Tigers on Friday night.