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Super League Play-off preview: Huddersfield Giants vs Catalan Dragons

Date: Friday 26th September
Venue: John Smith Stadium
Kick-off: 8pm

Teams

Huddersfield Giants 19 man squad:

Aaron Murphy, Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Joe Wardle, Jodie Broughton, Danny Brough, Luke Robinson, Craig Kopczak, Shaun Lunt, Antonio Kaufusi, Brett Ferres, Ukuma Ta’ai, Chris Bailey, Eorl Crabtree, Larne Patrick, David Faiumu, Anthony Mullally, Michael Lawrence, Jake Connor

Catalan Dragons 19 man squad:

Morgan Escaré, Ben Pomeroy, Michael Oldfield, Thomas Bosc, Olivier Elima, Ian Henderson, Jeff Lima, Zeb Taia, Louis Anderson, Greg Mounis, Antoni Maria, Eloi Pelissier, Elliott Whitehead, Daryl Millard, Julian Bousquet, Jason Baitieri, Vincent Duport, Benjamin Garcia, Sam Williams

Form

Huddersfield Giants

Qualifying Play-off – Wigan (A), L 57-4
Round 27 – St Helens (H), W 17-16
Round 26 – Hull FC (H), W 38-28
Round 25 – Warrington (A), D 24-24
Round 24 – Widnes (H), W 28-14

Catalan Dragons

Elimination Play-off – Leeds Rhinos (A), W 20-24
Round 27 – Castleford Tigers (H), W 28-6
Round 26 – Hull KR (A), W 14-32
Round 25 – London Broncos (H), W 46-4
Round 24 – Salford Red Devils (A), L 34-22

Preview

The last place in the Club Call round of the Super League play-offs will be decided on Friday night when Huddersfield Giants host Catalan Dragons at the John Smiths Stadium.

Huddersfield get their second crack at the play-offs after being beaten convincingly by the reigning champions Wigan 57-4 in a no contest at the DW Stadium.

They will be boosted this week by the return of talisman Danny Brough who completed a full weeks training and is set to line-up for the Giants on Friday night.

In contrast the Dragons will be brimming with confidence after they completed a shock 20-24 win over Leeds Rhinos with a last minute try thanks to Tom Briscoe’s knock on to knock out the Challenge Cup winners in bizarre fashion.

It is knock out Rugby League and the Giants will need a huge improvement to continue in the play-off series as their opponents Catalan have won their last four games and look in great form.

That last time they beat Huddersfield away though was back in 2009 and with six straight home wins against the Dragons the favourites have to be the Giants.

A win for either side means they will be 80 minutes from Old Trafford and will be up for the Club Call when St Helens have to choose who they want to face in the semi-finals.

The play-offs started poor with two one sided games but this game should be a close contest as knockout rugby league has produced the best games of this years series so far.

Key Battles

Danny Brough vs Thomas Bosc

Danny Brough’s return could be the difference between the Giants progressing to the next round or not as his influence has helped them to victories on numerous occasions this season. His kicking game is outstanding and is something they lacked in their defeat to Wigan last week. Thomas Bosc is his opposite number and will be looking to have the same influence for his side and lead them to a play-off semi-final.

Shaun Lunt vs Ian Henderson

These two hookers have bags of ability and will work all day long for their team. Shaun has been a brilliant coup for the Giants and Ian has been a crucial part of the Dragons success over the years. Both will try to control the game’s tempo in their teams favour and whoever comes out on top in this battle could guide their side to victory.

Brett Ferres vs Elliot Whitehead

Two of the competitions best second rowers go head to head in this match with Dream Team debutant Elliot Whitehead looking to show Brett Ferres why he replaced him in this years team of the year. Brett is a dangerous second rower who links up well with his centre partner Joe Wardle with the pair knowing their way to the try line. Elliot is also a try scoring forward who will be a threat to the Giants defence every time he has possession of the ball.

Previous Meetings This Season

With the previous meetings from this season in mind the Giants would be favourites as in both matches the home side has come out on top and it is Huddersfield who have that advantage this time out. Early in the season Catalans produced a 30-14 victory in front of their home fans against the Giants who got their revenge in late August with a 38-18 home win.

Prediction

If this were in Perpignan then the Dragons would be big favourites however their first win at Headingley at the tenth attempt last week showed that they can win on the road. Huddersfield will be buoyed by Brough’s return and he will be enough to see them home. Giants by 12

My name is Sean Hayes. I am from Widnes, England. I am currently studying journalism at Salford University. Aspiring sports journalist and rugby league fanatic whether it is watching, playing or writing about the greatest game! Follow me on twitter @SHayesNBL

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