Catalan Dragons host the Wigan Warriors this Saturday evening, in what’s a real important game for both sides. Wigan can’t afford to lose another game in the league, while Catalan are looking to escape the humiliation of being in the bottom four, and having to fight for their Super League place in The Qualifiers.

LAST TIME OUT

Catalan Dragons come into this game on the back of a dramatic 40-36 home win against the Leigh Centurions. Leigh took a 18-0 lead in the opening 18 minutes with tries from Matty Dawson, Danny Tickle and Ben Reynolds. Dragons finally started to make their mark on the game, and were rewarded with two tries from Jodie Broughton and Mickael Simon to get them to just a converted try behind, at 18-12. Then, Sam Hopkins scored two tries in the final four minutes of the half, and Leigh led 28-12 at halftime. Simon and Vincent Duport scored two early tries for Catalan, to get them to just 28-22 behind. However, Reynolds got his second of the game, to put Leigh further ahead at 34-22. Catalan started their comeback right on the hour mark, as Sam Moa scored. Leigh held a 34-28 lead going into the final 10 minutes. Justin Horo scored Catalans fourth of the half as they levelled the game for the first time at 34-34. Minutes later, Reynolds would kick a penalty-goal and put Leigh ahead once again at 36-34. The Centurions must’ve thought they’d done enough, as the minutes ticked away. Then, with just 15 seconds left on the clock, Julien Bousquet barged over for a dramatic, last second winner which broke Leigh hearts. It had been a sensational turnaround from Catalan, as they finished up 40-36 winners.

Wigan Warriors come into this game on the back of a struggling 28-12 win over the Widnes Vikings down at the DW Stadium. Wigan hadn’t won in the league since April, and this was a much-needed one for the Warriors. Both sides made a real slow start to the game, as it was cluttered with handling errors and poor discipline. However, Wigan took a 16-0 lead with tries from Sean O’Loughlin, Tony Clubb and Lewis Tierney. Then, right on halftime, Lloyd White got one back for the Vikings, following some real sloppy defence from Wigan, who’d clearly switched off. Widnes got the first try of the second half, as White got his second of the game, and suddenly Widnes where just a try behind at 16-12. Wigan have made a habit of throwing away leads this season, and this felt like it could’ve been another desperate afternoon. The game was rather poor throughout, and the second half was no exception. Wigan’s defence had improved, but their attack was lacklustre to say the least. It took until the 72nd minute for Wigan to finally wrap the game up as Joe Burgess scored. Then, minutes later, Burgess was over again to truly seal the deal and Wigan finished up 28-12 winners. It was a welcomed win for the Warriors, who can’t afford to lose another league game, as they continue their quest to reach the play-offs.

KEY BATTLES

This should be a great game, with two big sides going head to head in the melting Perpignan sunshine. What’s interesting to see is that Catalans have 11 of their starting 13 in their squad, while Wigan only have 10. However, it’s the Dragons who have more key personnel out through injuries and suspensions.

Forwards

This is always a good watch between these two sides. They both have real big, powerful forwards who put a lot of effort in for their sides. It’ll be tough conditions on Saturday, especially for the Wigan boys who aren’t quite used to the heat. However, Catalan will be missing the likes of Bird, Simon and Garcia, while Wigan welcomed back Tony Clubb last week, and Tautai this week, so you’d expect the Warriors to just have the upper hand, and get the battle down the middles won early on.

Tony Gigot vs Sam Tomkins

Both full-backs haven’t exactly lit up the league in recent weeks. While Tomkins is only four games into his long-awaited return from injury, Gigot has been an ever present this season for the Dragons. It’s been a tough season for Catalan, and they’ve not been helped by their experienced, and more skilled players, Gigot being one of them. They’ll be playing on a dry pitch this Saturday, and with the pace and skill that both full-backs have, you’d expect them to produce something special during the game.

Jodie Broughton vs Joe Burgess

These two impressive, young wingers will go head to head on Saturday. It’s been a struggling season for Broughton, who’s been plagued with injury problems, and only managed two tries so far in the league. As for Burgess, since returning from his injury earlier in the season, he’s gone on to improve his tally to 13 tries. Both are explosive, strong wingers, who can score from all sorts of positions. It’ll be a very interesting battle on Saturday, and I’m intrigued to see who’ll come out on top.

PREDICTIONS

It’ll be a tough afternoon for both sets of players, as the French sunshine will be beaming down hard. Wigan will have a near full strength team out, while Catalan are without a few key players. Wigan have only lost once in their last 10 games against the Dragons, and I can’t see them losing another here.

Wigan Warriors by 14

PRE-GAME MEDIA

Catalan Dragons head coach Steve McNamara:

(On Leigh) “It’s a proud moment for me to be here after a win. The attitude and behaviour of the players on the field was one that pleased me.

“They gave everything and never gave up and were rewarded at the end of the game with picking up the two points.

“It’s a result that has the ability to give us confidence in the coming weeks and we have a tough run of games coming up we will take that into this week with Wigan.”

Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane:

Wane says that he won’t be travelling to France with the team as he is due to have hip surgery. Confirms that assistant John Winder will take charge.

(On Widnes) “There were some good signs but lots of room for improvement. Clubb did well, he’s good to go and is training again today.

“They’ve a few players missing but it’s two tough team going at it. It’ll be about 26 degrees at kick-off and we need to be ready for that.”

SQUAD NEWS

Steve McNamara makes five changes to the side that beat Leigh Centurions last week, with Greg Bird, Ben Garcia, Fouad Yaha, Richie Myler and Mika Simon all dropping out for Brayden Wiliame, Lambert Belmas, Nabil Djalout, Paul Seguier and Lucas Albert.

Shaun Wane makes just the one change to the side that beat Widnes Vikings last week, with Taulima Tautai coming into the side in place of Lewis Tierney.

SQUADS

Catalan Dragons: Tony Gigot, Jodie Broughton, Krisnan Inu, Brayden Wiliame, Luke Walsh, Sam Moa, Paul Aiton, Rémi Casty, Louis Anderson, Justin Horo, Julian Bousquet, Jason Baitieri, Vincent Duport, Lucas Albert, Alrix Da Costa, Paul Seguier, Thibaud Margalet, Lambert Belmas and Nabil Djalout.

Wigan Warriors: John Bateman, Joe Burgess, Tony Clubb, Tom Davies, Liam Farrell, Callum Field, Anthony Gelling, Oliver Gildart, Willie Isa, Thomas Leuluai, Michael Mcilorum, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Powell, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Sam Tomkins, Jack Wells and George Williams.

MATCH DETAILS  

Referee: Robert Hicks

Venue: Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan

Date/Time: Saturday 8th July 2017 – 17:00pm GMT