McNamara defends Dragons after bruising win at Halifax

Steve McNamara
Steve McNamara
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Steve McNamara defended his Catalans Dragons players’ physical approach after his side gained a vital 24-0 victory in a hard-fought contest at Championship side Halifax.

The Dragons are scrapping for their Super League lives, with now two wins and two defeats from their four games and lying fifth in the Betfred Super Eight Qualifiers’ table which decide the make-up of next season’s Super League and Kingston Press Championship.

After three players were sin-binned in a no holds barred encounter, McNamara admitted: “It certainly wasn’t pretty, particularly early on as we were very anxious. But to come away from home and against opposition that threw a lot at us and has thrown a lot at other opposition that they have played, and win 24-0 was a very good result for us.

“We were ready to play but there is a lot of things when you are in this situation that can dictate how you play and, with the anxiety and the pressure at the start, I felt we handled the situation well.”

Catalans were first to incur the referee’s wrath when Australian forward Greg Bird was shown a yellow card and given 10 minutes in the dug-out for a dangerous tackle. Louis Andersen and Richie Myler touched down while Bird was off the field to give the Dragons a 12-0 half-time lead.

Brayden Wiliame and Fouad Yaha added further tries in the second half, either side of Catalans’ Vincent Duport and Halifax’s Ben Johnson also getting yellow cards, with Luke Walsh adding all four conversions.

Halifax boss Richard Marshall, whose side have performed admirably yet still lost all four games so far, pointed out: “I thought we were very good in first half and did a lot of work and the momentum was in our favour. We just couldn’t convert that into points.

“They scrambled pretty well and played with a lot of desperation. I think the break helped them more than us.

“They looked like quite a nervous team – they made a lot of errors and we shut them down well but couldn’t convert that into points at the other end.”

Halifax savoured a favourable penalty count, but Marshall explained: “We were looking to score and win the game and not just consolidate and kick a few penalties over – I thought we were outstanding.”

Halifax: Sharp, Heaton, Barber, Butler, Saltonstall, Murrell, Johnston, Morris, Kaye, Cahalane, Grady, Tangata, Grix. Substitutes: Fairbank, Boyle, Moore, Sio.

Catalans Dragons: Tierney, Duport, Inu, Wiliame, Yaha, Walsh, Myler, Moa, Da Costa, Casty, Anderson, Horo, Garcia. Substitutes: Bird, Bousquet, Baitieri, Albert.

Referee: C Kendall (RFL).