Salford Red Devils welcome Catalans Dragons to the AJ Bell Stadium on Good Friday, as the French outfit look for a third victory on their travels, with the Red Devils looking to make it three home wins out of four.
LAST TIME OUT
Defence wins you games, as the old saying goes, and if Salford Red Devils are to keep up their top eight aspirations they need to tighten up and concede less. They have shipped 183 points so far this season, with only Wakefield, and their opponents from last weekend Hull KR, conceding more. KR registered their first victory of 2016 in a 44-30 victory over Ian Watson’s men, as they failed to back up an impressive win away to Castleford Tigers. 30 of those 44 points came in the first period, and they will need a better start if they are to come away from Friday’s fixture with the two competition points.
The Dragons have put together back-to-back wins in England following their 46-26 triumph away to Huddersfield Giants, as they look to finally recreate their home form on the road. Their other victory came against strugglers Wakefield, but if they can defeat the Red Devils this time out it could be the boost their season needs. They took advantage of Joe Wardle’s dismissal for a high tackle last week to run riot in the second period and pile more misery on the Giants. If they can show their attacking flare once again it could turn out to be a very Good Friday for Laurent Frayssinous’ side.
Both sides have a very tough middle unit, with some hard hitting, metre making forwards. The forward pack which comes out on top in this one should pave the way for their strike players to wrap up the game. Craig Kopczak, Mark Flanagan and Matt Sarsfield will be vital to Salford’s cause, as will Ben Murdoch-Masila, as the big back rower looks to continue his fine form. They will have tough opposition though, as Remi Casty, Glenn Stewart, Dave Taylor and Willie Mason will look to win the arm wrestle and give a platform for Todd Carney and Richie Myler to play off.
For the first time since ‘The Doctor’ bought the club, Salford look like the real deal and could definitely make the top eight. If they are to do so, they will need to look at games like this as a ‘must win’, however with the Dragons in-form on the road it will be tough. Catalans could have too much fire power for their opponents, and if their marquee men perform they should pick up a third straight away win. Catalans Dragons by 12.
Salford Red Devils 19 man squad:
Ian Watson has named an unchanged squad for the visit of the French outfit, as he is still without playmaker Robert Lui.
Justin Carney, Michael Dobson, Niall Evalds, Mark Flanagan, Carl Forster, George Griffin, Josh Griffin, Greg Johnson, Josh Jones, Phil Joseph, Craig Kopczak, Olsi Krasniqi, Tommy Lee, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Gareth O’Brien, Junior Sa’u, Matt Sarsfield, Logan Tomkins, Adam Walne
Catalans Dragons 19 man squad:
Laurent Frayssinous doesn’t have the same luxury, as he is forced to make changes due to Krisnan Inu’s suspension, with Antoni Maria also absent from their previous squad. He is boosted by the return of Justin Horo though, who has recovered from injury, and fullback Morgan Escaré also comes in.
Tony Gigot, Jodie Broughton, Vincent Duport, Pat Richards, Todd Carney, Richie Myler, Louis Anderson, Paul Aiton, Rémi Casty, Glenn Stewart, Justin Horo, Jason Baitieri, Dave Taylor, Julian Bousquet, Eloi Pelissier, Greg Mounis, Thomas Bosc, Morgan Escaré, Willie Mason