Catalan Dragons host the Castleford Tigers on Saturday evening in the South of France. Both sides have had poor ends to the season going into the Super 8s, which was unfortunately plagued with injuries. Both sides have been missing key players throughout the season, and never had the opportunity to play their strongest team in a good run of games. Catalans looked promising for a long time this season, however, injuries and poor form halted their play-off dreams. As for Castelford, they’re a side who have beaten the top sides this season and had a decent run in the Cup. When you look at their team on paper, it’s a very strong side, coached by a very good coach. It’s amazing they’ve finished so low this season, they really should be doing so much better.
LAST TIME OUT
Catalans ended a three-match losing streak by limping past Wakefield 14-10 in a below-par game at Belle Vue. Wakefield started the game on top, blowing a few early chances and letting the Dragons off the hook. Despite all the early pressure, it was the Dragons who took the lead after Jason Baitieri burst through the Wildcats defence to go over for the try. Wakefield hit back in superb style, after Max Jowitt scored a sublime solo effort to get his side on the board. Dragons had a great chance to reply immediately, however, Fouad Yaha bombed the opportunity. Catalans did go further ahead in the 23rd minute when Julian Bousquet crossed over on the last tackle. Gigot added the extras and Catalans led 12-4 at halftime. Wakefield came out strong in the second half and Craig Hall who had two earlier efforts disollowed, finally got over for the Wildcats, after getting on the end of a Jacob Miller kick. Wakefield looked certain to take the lead when Scott Anderson went over. However, Anderson dropped the ball over the line. Olivier Elima was sin-binned just after the hour mark, but despite the numerical advantage, the Wildcats failed to convert their chances. Gigot kicked a penalty in the 66th minute to stretch their lead to 14-10. Thats how the match finished, as the Perpignan outfit held firm.
Castleford come into this game on the back of a 40-16 hammering to the hand of St Helens. Tigers had 13 regulars on the injury list and it shown during this game. It was the Tigers who started off on the front foot when Luke Dorn made his way through the Saints defence for the opening try of the game. Saints hit back through Matty Flemming, however that try was cut out when Wigan loanee Ryan Hampshire went over for the Tigers second try. It was at this point were Saints took control. They scored back-to-back tries through Knowles and Amor. Then things went from bad to worse for the Tigers when Rangi Chase was sin-binned for a trip. Luke Thompson made the extra man count when he crashed over, sending Saints 24-10 up at halftime. Saints scored back-to-back tries yet again through McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Adam Swift to all but seal the win. Will Maher went over for a Castleford consolation try towards the end of the game but Saints had the last say when prop, Adam Walmsley powered his way over to wrap up a 40-16 win for the Saints.
It’s a shame that these two sides are meeting in such an un-meaningful game, with such depleted squads, at this stage of the season.
One of the intriguing battles will be Broughton vs Solomona on the wings. Now while Broughton has had a poor end the the season. His tries have been influential to Catalans for the most part, scoring 4 in one game against St Helens. Meanwhile, Denny Solomona is the leagues top scorer with 35 tries this season, which is an incredible stat for a playing who’s playing in a side out of the top 4.
One of my favourite players this season has been Dave Taylor. Now while he has been in the naughty books throughout, and on the end of a few disciplinary hearings, he still has been a fantastic forward, and a real influential player. It’s funny really, because in some ways, with his multiple suspensions, he’s let the Dragons down a lot by missing quite a few games towards the latter end of the season, through his poor discipline. His battles against any other forward is always worthy of watching. Anytime he gets the ball I get excited to see what he’ll do next.
There’ll be a great battle between the two No.7’s on Saturday. Richie Myler has been out for the majority of the season, so he’ll be some way off his full potential, but still a great addition to the squad. On the other side theres Gale. Arguably one of the Tigers most influential players this season, mainly with his fantastic kicking game. Again, it’s a shame these guys don’t have a fully fit squad around them to work with, but it should still be a great battle nonetheless.
With both sides having nothing to play for but pride, it could potentially be a high scoring game, with plenty of action.
Catalan Dragons by 8
(more than 60 points in the game)
Catalans Dragons are without back-rower Jason Baitieri after he was ruled out for the rest of the season, as well as winger Fouad Yaha. Half-back Lucas Albert and back-rower Dave Taylor are added to the 19, the latter after suspension.
Castleford Tigers have lost back-rower Junior Moors to injury for the remainder of the campaign and Range Chase misses out due to suspension. Andre Savelio returns after his ineligibility against St Helens, while Mike McMeeken is also included.
Catalans Dragons 19-man squad: Gigot, Broughton, Duport, Myler, Anderson, Aiton, Casty, Stewart, Horo, Taylor, Bousquet, Pelissier, Mounis, Elima, Sigismeau, Albert, Da Costa, Garcia, Seguier
Castleford Tigers 19-man squad: Cook, Crooks, Douglas, Dorn, Fitzsimmons, Flynn, Gale, Hampshire, Holmes, Maher, McMeeken, McShane, Milner, Minikin, Patrick, Savelio, Solomona, Springer, Webster
Referee: Phil Bentham
Venue: Stade Gilbert Brutus
Date/Time: Saturday 17th September 2016 – 17:00pm GMT