St Helens host Catalans Dragons live on Sky Sports this Friday in the second round of the Super 8’s, looking to keep their winning run alive and to consolidate their place inside the top four.
St Helens will be looking for their first win over Catalans Dragons since the opening round of the 2015 season when they welcome the French outfit to Langtree Park this week. Laurent Frayssinous’ side have won the last four meetings of the clubs, including a league double this season. Jodie Broughton scored four on their last visit to Saints as they were 30-12 winners, and back in June they took the spoils in France with a 33-16 triumph.
After that win the Dragons lost six games in a row, however it sparked Keiron Cunningham’s men into life as they have put together six straight wins since the defeat and have overtaken their opponents to leap into the top four.
LAST TIME OUT
Last week the hosts pulled off a gritty 20-18 win over Warrington Wolves at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, as a Mark Percival penalty goal proved the difference between the two sides on the night. It was win number six on the spin and maintained their two point cushion over the fifth placed Dragons heading into this week’s contest, as they look to be hitting form at the right time.
Catalans ended their six game losing streak by exacting revenge over Widnes Vikings for their defeat at the Select Security Stadium two weeks previous. They were on the right end of a 26-10 score line at the Stade Gilbert Brutus, as they avoided falling further off the pace to keep their play-off hopes alive.
After struggling this season St Helens’ forward pack has stepped it up a gear in recent weeks, coinciding with their current run of six straight wins. In contrast, Catalans Dragons have built the majority of their success this season on the platform laid down by their dominant forwards, however their firepower up-front has faltered at the back end of the season. The side which wins the arm wrestle in the middle will give themselves a great chance of claiming a crucial win.
Jordan Turner has been in great form for Saints in his farewell campaign, as he will be joining NRL side Canberra Raiders next season, and his combination with Luke Walsh in the halves has been prominent in their turnaround in form. In Todd Carney and Richie Myler the Dragons had one of the best combinations in the early stages of the competition, however with Myler and now Thomas Bosc injured a lot of responsibility will be on Carney’s shoulders. The Aussie will need to step up this week if Catalans are to claw their way back into the top four.
With only two points separating the two sides in fourth and fifth, there is a lot riding on the outcome of this game. Catalans looked like early favourites for the title, while Saints looked like missing out on the play-offs before a change in fortunes for both clubs. Although the Dragons snapped their losing streak last week their opponents are full of confidence after some impressive wins, and could go a long way to confirming their place in the top four with a win on Friday night. St Helens by 12.
St Helens 19 man squad:
Jonny Lomax, Jordan Turner, Mark Percival, Adam Swift, Luke Walsh, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Kyle Amor, Atelea Vea, Jon Wilkin, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Lama Tasi, Greg Richards, Luke Thompson, Dominique Peyroux, Joe Greenwood, Jack Owens, Matty Fleming, Morgan Knowles.
Catalans Dragons 19 man squad:
Eloi Pelissier is set for appearance number 150 for Catalans, while Gregory Mounis could make it 250 if he is selected.
Tony Gigot, Jodie Broughton, Vincent Duport, Todd Carney, Louis Anderson, Paul Aiton, Rémi Casty, Glenn Stewart, Justin Horo, Jason Baitieri, Dave Taylor, Julian Bousquet, Eloi Pelissier, Gregory Mounis, Olivier Elima, Fouad Yaha, Morgan Escaré, Lucas Albert, Benjamin Garcia.