Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara admits his side will need to tighten their discipline following their opening 40-12 Betfred Super League defeat at Widnes.
The visitors conceded five penalties in the first 10 minutes and had Sam Moa sin-binned for a late tackle as they fell 6-0 behind to the first of two tries from Chris Dean.
They recovered to lead 12-6 after 24 minutes thanks to tries on debut from full-back David Mead and second-rower Benjamin Jullien, only to collapse in alarming fashion in the second half, conceding five tries, as they paid the price for a 15-4 penalty count against them.
“It surprised me because I thought we went some way to fixing up our discipline at the back end of last year,” McNamara said. “It’s something we’ll need to address.
“I actually thought we dealt with the first half OK on the back of a 9-1 penalty count and a man in the bin – we looked dominant – but paid the price for it in the second half. Our tackling was appalling.
“To get our backsides kicked like that is not good enough. We only had 10 sets with the ball in the second half.
Highlights as the Vikings beat the Dragons in their Super League XXIII opener
“It’s a tough one to take but it is round one. We have only been together for five weeks, we will improve, but we’re going to have to improve dramatically.”
The Catalans went into the game without regular hooker Paul Aiton, who had a neck problem, but McNamara was delighted with the debut of another hooker, Michael McIlorum.
“I thought he was outstanding,” he said. “He was everything we thought he would be, tough and tenacious, you certainly can’t accuse him of not tackling.”
Fit and healthy
Widnes coach Denis Betts was delighted after his side scored 34 points without reply to send out an early message to the pundits who predicted they would struggle once more.
“We’re the only group that thinks we can do anything this year,” Betts said. “We’ve got a good group of players.
“The lads who missed out last year through injury are healthy and fit and the new lads have come in and given us a real boost.
“It justifies the targets we’ve set ourselves and the goals we’ve got.
“In the first half we looked a little bit edgy but we just had to be the side we practised to be.”
Dean, who missed most of the 2017 season through injury, made his mark with a man-of-the-match performance – although Betts argued that should have gone to his back-row colleague Chris Houston.
“Chris Houston has had some good games for me but I haven’t seen him play that well,” Betts said. “He’s got the bit between his teeth, he was outstanding, man of the match by a street.
“Chris Dean showed us what we missed last year, a back-rower who can be destructive and quick.”