Catalan Dragons will host the in-form Wigan Warriors on Friday evening in the South of France. Both sides will be looking to get the vital 2 points in this top 4 battle. Wigan have won their previous 6 games going into this game and will be looking to avenge last seasons 58-16 battering.
LAST TIME OUT
Catalan Dragons come into this game on the back of a 22-8 defeat in the Challenge Cup Quarter-Finals away at league leaders, Hull FC. In what was a very poor performance from the Dragons, they will be looking bounce back with a better display this weekend. It was a decent start for Catalan, scoring early on to go ahead. The match seemed to turn on it’s head and Hull started to take control of the game. The Dragons where unlucky earlier this season to lose in the league to Hull by just 2 points. However, their was no mistaking this result. The brute force of Hull FC’s impressive pack gave them a platform to storm past Catalan. It seemed like the Catalan side of previous years who have struggled to get going and learn how to win away from home. However, they have been much better this season, and this performance came as a bit of a shock. They will have to up their game if they are to challenge an in-form Wigan side this week.
Wigan come into this game on the back of a 6th straight win in all competitions, the latest being a 26-12 victory over Castleford Tigers. It was a brilliant display from the Warriors, mainly in the first half, where they ran in 4 unanswered tries through Sarginson, Sam Tomkins and a brace from Charnley, to race into a 22-0 lead at halftime. It was quite remarkable to watch in the opening half, as Wigan produced their best 40 minutes of the season so far. They where clinical in attack and solid in defence. If they perform anywhere near to that against Catalan this week, it’ll take a big performance to stop them getting the 2 points. Wigan did go away for a bit in the second half, but still looked comfortable and ran out 26-12 winners. Wigan seemed to be slowing down in the second half to save themselves for this big game against a huge Catalan side.
I just cannot wait for this game. There are going to be that many key battles, its hard to get them all down. I’ll just focus on the game changing ones.
The biggest battle of the day, will be between both sets of forwards. Now while Wigan’s forwards are clearly not the strongest or biggest in super league, they have been influential in their sides recent winning run. The Dragons have a huge forward pack, and with the likes of Taylor, Mason, Stewart, Horo and others, Wigan wont find it easy to win the battle down the middle.
The return of Gigot and Duport to the side, only helps out the Dragons. They still have a few key players out at the moment, as do Wigan. However, there is enough quality on that field to produce a great game of rugby. The halfback pairing of Smith and Williams is improving week by week, and Sam Tomkins is starting to get back to his best. Catalan will have something in place to stop Sam getting involved.
Jodie Broughton on the wing for Catalan has been in great scoring form of late, along with Wigan’s Josh Charley, it could be a great battle between the two wingers, and it’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top at the end of the game.
In what will undoubtedly be the game of the weekend. I see Wigan pulling off a great result over in France. After Hull FC and Warrington both dropping points this weekend, it’ll only spur both sides on, but also relieves some pressure.
Wigan Warriors by 8
Catalans Dragons 19-man Squad: Gigot, Broughton, Duport, Richards, Carney, Casty, Stewart, Horo, Baitieri, Taylor, Bousquet, Pelissier, Bosc, Escare, Maria, Albert, Mason, Navarrete, Garcia.
Wigan Warriors 19-man Squad: Bretherton, Burke, Charnley, Flower, Gildart, Isa, Manfredi, Mossop, O’Loughlin, Powell, Sarginson, Shorrocks, Smith, Sutton, Tautai, Tierney, S Tomkins, Wells, Williams.
Referee: Gareth Hewer
Venue: Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, Stade Gilbert Brutus
Date/Time: Saturday 2nd July 2016 – 17:00pm GMT