Catalans Dragons have struggled for the past few seasons; last year the club flirted with relegation, only securing their Super League status in the infamous Million Pound Game. Outspoken chairman Bernard Guasch parted ways with long-serving boss Laurent Frayssinous in late May 2017 after a dismal run of form. The French head coach had been in his fifth season with the Dragons, but, the club had been slipping for a while. Catalans had finished seventh in 2015 and sixth in 2016 but had started the 2017 season in shocking form, winning just five out of 14 matches to leave the Dragons outside the top eight and languishing near the bottom of the table.

In a move that had many Rugby League fans scratching their heads, Steve McNamara took over. Usually, in most sports, the appointment of a new coach leads to a spring in results, however, with McNamara, the Dragons slid even further towards relegation. In the last five games of the regular season, Catalans won just once. Even in the Middle 8s, the French side won just four of their seven games, meaning the club had to endure the Million Pound Game to secure their Super League survival after a fifth-place finish in the Qualifiers.

Bad start to 2018

If Catalans fans were expecting their side to come out firing in 2018, they would be badly mistaken. Two wins from their opening 11 games saw the Dragons occupy the bottom four with seemingly no way out.

For the first time in their history, the Dragons failed to register a point against Warrington in mid-March. In fact, when Castleford inflicted a 41-0 drubbing upon the French side in mid-April, coach McNamara was living on borrowed time. A narrow 22-34 victory over York City Knights in the fifth round of the Challenge Cup was nearly one of the most embarrassing defeats the Dragons had ever suffered.

Two days later

Just two days later, Catalans made the decision to sign to Josh Drinkwater. The Dragons' previous No.7 Luke Walsh had called time on his career, and this appeared to be a panic signing; after failing to impress at London and Leigh in Super League, Drinkwater had been plying his trade Down Under in the NSW Cup for the Western Suburbs Magpies.

Four days on and Catalans played Hull FC - a top-four hunting side - at home. The Dragons won 25-24 with Drinkwater scoring once and kicking six goals. Something had clicked and, although the French side lost away at St Helens the following week, this defeat would be just one of two the Dragons would suffer in the next 11 games. Drinkwater has arguably Catalans' best player since signing for them; he has controlled the team and linked up seamlessly with fellow half-back Samisoni Langi while his kicking game has been key to getting the Dragons on the front foot.

Bottom four now unlikely

The Dragons looked a dead cert to finish in the bottom four in late April, but they are now seventh in the Super League table, three points clear of Leeds in ninth and on level points with both Wakefield in sixth and Huddersfield in the eighth.

Not only are Catalans edging closer to retaining their top-flight status for another year, but they are also in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup for the first time since 2010.

Steve McNamara, tipped by many to be the first Super League coach to lose his job, with the help of Josh Drinkwater, has turned it around. The feel-good factor is well and truly back at the Stade Gilbert Brutus with the Dragons peaking at completely the right time. If the Dragons do indeed finish inside the top eight, then they will be a very dangerous side, particularly at home where they have already demolished the likes of Castleford and Leeds. Ten weeks ago, none of this looked possible, and it is truly remarkable to see how the Dragons have now clicked into gear and proved the host of doubters wrong.