Two sides who have had contrasting starts to 2017 go head-to-head on Saturday evening, as Catalans Dragons welcome St Helens to the South of France.
Last Time Out
Catalans Dragons slumped to their first defeat of the season last week, as they were humbled by Leeds Rhinos who were rampant in a 46-10 victory at Headingley. The French outfit had two wins and a draw to their name, but were on the wrong end of a backlash after the Rhinos responded from their humiliating defeat to Castleford Tigers a week earlier. After two promising wins over Warrington Wolves and Hull FC the Dragons go into this one without a win in their previous two outings.
St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham is under increasing pressure after he watched his side fall to a third straight defeat in round four, as they were beaten by Hull FC 24-14. Add that to a home defeat to Wakefield Trinity and a loss away to newly promoted side Leigh Centurions and it has been a disappointing start to their campaign. Their only victory came in the opening round when they snuck past Leeds 6-4, and the Saints legend will need to turn their fortunes around quickly or he could be facing the axe.
There is only one area of St Helens’ side which will be under scrutiny come Saturday evening, and that is their halves. After Cunningham wrongly singled out youngster Danny Richardson following their defeat to Wakefield he opted for Jon Wilkin to replace him, but the second rower couldn’t prevent another defeat. He’s stuck to his guns as Richardson remains in exile and could be haunted by a familiar face this weekend.
Luke Walsh’s time at Saints was littered with injury but they would welcome the Australian back with open arms as Matty Smith remains on the side line. Now with Catalans, Walsh is striking up an effective partnership with Richie Myler and they could be the key to a victory for the hosts.
In the last meeting of these two sides in the Super 8’s last season, Saints snapped a four game losing streak against their opponents, however they have lost on their last four trips to France. The last time Catalans lost at home in this fixture was back in 2013 when braces from Tommy Makinson and Paul Wellens helped Saints to a 26-6 win.
Laurent Frayssinous’ men should continue their impressive home form and with a settled halfback pairing will be favourites to pick up the two points. Catalans Dragons by 14.
Catalans Dragons 19-man squad:
Krisnan Inu, Brayden Wiliame, Fouad Yaha, Luke Walsh, Richie Myler, Sam Moa, Paul Aiton, Rémi Casty, Justin Horo, Julian Bousquet, Ben Garcia, Thomas Bosc, Jason Baitieri, Vincent Duport, Mickael Simon, Luke Burgess, Iain Thornley, Alrix Da Costa, Thibaud Margalet
St Helens 19 man squad:
Tommy Makinson, Ryan Morgan, Mark Percival, Adam Swift, Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Kyle Amor, Jon Wilkin, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Luke Douglas, Adam Walker, Tommy Lee, Dominique Peyroux, Greg Richards, Morgan Knowles, Jack Owens, Jack Ashworth, Zeb Taia