Castleford Tigers travel to the Stade Gilbert Brutus to face an ill-disciplined Catalans Dragons side in order to extend their winning run to five games on the bounce. Catalans Dragons have won seven of the last eight encounters between the two sides at the Stade Gilbert Brutus. 

LAST TIME OUT

Castleford overcame an out-of-form Salford side 38-14 at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle with a first half double from Greg Eden. Eden’s tries came at a cost, however, with Eden injuring his shoulder in the process of his second finish. Eden’s first try came just three minutes into the game, putting the Tigers four points up in as many minutes after a failed conversion from Luke Gale. Castleford’s defence didn’t hold out much longer though, with O’Brien crossing for Salford just a few minutes as a result of poor goal line defence from Castleford.

Castleford started to dominate soon after but unforced errors limited their first half tally to eighteen after a great individual effort from Ben Roberts and an exquisite finish from Eden for his second try that were both converted by Gale along with a penalty goal and two points of his own shortly after. Salford kept in touch with the league leaders with Kris Welham scoring seven minutes from half time to put the visitors within 10 points, but with Dobson converting, the lead was soon cut to eight going into the half time break.

Castleford showed a marked improvement in the second half, with tries from Joel Monaghan and Zak Hardaker early on to extend their lead to 20 points. Salford couldn’t compete and could only reply with a solitary second half try from Jake Bibby before Joel Monaghan crossed once more and Gale converted to put Castleford even further out of sight with just 15 minutes to play before adding another penalty to his tally in the closing stages to top off a comprehensive win for his side.

Catalans Dragons’ poor run of form was extended with a 46-28 loss to St Helens at the Totally Wicked Stadium. Their loss was their 10th loss in the 12 games and their 7th away loss in a row. However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Catalans, who led St Helens for the majority of the second half with tries from Justin Horo, Luke Walsh and Tony Gigot that were all converted by Luke Walsh. While St Helens conceded three tries from the French side, they replied with tries of their own through Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley and Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook after each try from the visitors. Mark Percival had a fine day with the boot and as well as converting all the tries, he added a penalty that separated the sides at half time with Saints leading 20-18.

Horo started the second half much in the same vein as he did in the first half, scoring his second try of the afternoon to put the Dragons ahead. However, St Helens kicked into gear after a mixed first half and scored two penalties and a converted try in the space of seven minutes to go eight points ahead. Catalans replied and cut the lead to two points once more with a converted try from Richie Myler. In what looked to be a close finish, St Helens scored three back-to-back tries to run away 46-28 winners.

 

KEY BATTLE

The only way I can see Catalans winning this is if they dominate Castleford up front. At the start if the season the strengthened Catalans pack was seemingly something to behold but due to numerous injuries and indiscipline they haven’t quite hit their straps. By contrast, the Castleford forwards have been pivotal in their rise to league leaders this season with invaluable tries and an unmatched attacking proficiency. Their only weakness seems to be in the battle up front with sides being able to get on top of them early in the game; most notably two weeks ago against Wakefield. Unlike other forward packs, who when on the back foot can get back into the grind, Castleford don’t seem to be able to do so and instead use their backs and their expansive attack to break games open. On the other hand, the Catalans pack has been held back this season by their discipline, as high penalty counts have become characteristic of the Dragons’ side. When they do get the ball and use it, the massive Catalans pack can roll forwards with ease and give a great platform for their backs to play off. If Catalans are to win this one, they’ll do it in the forwards.

 

PREDICTION

Catalans are having one of their worst seasons in Super League to date and are conceding far too many penalties to give themselves a chance in games. However, they have the edge over Castleford at home, winning seven of the last eight encounters. On paper they have the side to beat Castleford, but it hasn’t yet materialised this season. By contrast Castleford are having their best season yet and are closing in on the league leaders shield. If Catalans can out enthuse Castleford in the first half and get on top of their forward pack they’ll have a chance, but with a defence that has conceded 32, 36, and 56 in their last 3 games at home they’ll struggle against the league’s most potent attack. Ultimately, Castleford have far too many points in them for Catalans and the Dragons’ indiscipline will most likely cost them dearly once more. If Castleford aren’t heavy legged off the plane it could get towards a cricket score. Castleford by 16+.

 

19-MAN SQUADS

Catalans Dragons: 1. Tony Gigot, 3. Krisnan Inu, 5. Fouad Yaha, 6. Luke Walsh, 7. Richie Myler, 8. Sam Moa, 9. Paul Aiton, 10. Remi Casty, 11. Louis Anderson, 12. Justin Horo, 13. Greg Bird, 14. Julien Bousquet, 15. Ben Garcia, 17. Jason Batieri, 18. Vincent Duport, 22. Lucas Albert, 25. Thibaud Margalet, 32. Romain Navarrete, 33. Lewis Tierney.

Castleford Tigers: 18. Matt Cook, 34. Alex Foster, 7. Luke Gale, 1. Zak Hardaker, 25. Jy Hitchcox, 23. Tom Holmes, 33. Kevin Larroyer, 8. Andy Lynch, 14. Nathan Massey, 12. Mike McMeeken, 9. Paul McShane, 10. Grant Millington, 2. Greg Minikin, 21. Joel Monaghan, 16. Ben Roberts, 15. Jesse Sene-Lefao, 4. Michael Shenton, 19. Gadwin Springer, 35. Jake Trueman.