Wakefield take on Catalans in the opening match of the 2019 Dacia Magic Weekend. If it’s anywhere near as thrilling as their Magic Weekend meeting from 2016, we could be in for a classic. Here’s everything you need to know.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Wakefield were surprsingly beaten 42-34 by London Broncos last time out, with a flurry of late tries putting some respectability on the scoreline. However, Trinity sit sixth in the table, just outside the play-off places on points difference and defeated Catalans 22-12 at Belle Vue earlier in the season but are a side struggling for consistency.
Catalans are in fine form having won five of their last six games, with their only defeat in that period coming against table-toppers St Helens. They defeated defending Super League champions Wigan 33-16 in a record-breaking game at the Nou Camp last week and will be hoping to consolidate third place in the Super League standings with another victory on Saturday afternoon.
Trinity signed versatile middle and back-row Kelepi Tanginoa in the week, with the 25-year-old previously enjoying spells in the NRL with Manly, Parramatta and North Queensland, and is in line to make his debut having been included in their 19-man squad.
Anthony England and Matty Ashurst both return to the squad, having overcome their respective injury problems and replace Jordan Crowther and Chris Annakin in the squad.
The game comes too soon for influential half-back Danny Brough however, who is expected to be fit in time for Wakefield’s Challenge Cup quarter-final against St Helens next week.
Wakefield’s 19-man squad: Ashurst, Batchelor, Caton-Brown, England, Fifita, Hampshire, Hirst, Jones-Bishop, Jowitt, King, Kirmond, Kopczak, Lyne, Miller, Randell, Reynolds, Sa’u, Tanginoa, Wood.
The Dragons are without three key players for the trip to Anfield, with Sam Tomkins still sidelined with a back injury, Greg Bird is ruled out with a torn bicep and Michael McIlorum is also unavailable.
However, Matty Smith and Lambert Belmas return to the squad.
Kenny Edwards is one appearance away from achieveing 100 in his career (29 for Catalans, 70 for Parramatta).
Catalans’ 19-man squad: Gigot, Mead, Wiliame, Tierney, Langi, Smith, Casty, Moa, Edwards, Garcia, Bousquet, Simon, Jullien, Whitley, Da Costa, Belmas, Baitieri, Yaha, Kasiano.
HEAD TO HEAD
As mentioned earlier, Wakefield ran out 22-12 winners when the teams met in round three of Super League this season.
The sides have met 33 times in Super League, with Wakefield claiming 18 victories to Catalans’ 15 successes.
The pair have faced each other once before at Magic Weekend with Wakefield winning 25-24 at Newcastle in 2016 when Jacob Miller scored an extraordinary drop-goal from 50-metres out late on to hand the points to Trinity.
David Fifita (Wakefield) v Julian Bousquet (Catalans)
David Fifita has been simply phenomenal for Wakefield this season and currently sits second on the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel Award leaderboard. His 6ft 4in frame and 18st physique make him unstoppable at times and if he finds his best form on Saturday, it could spell bad news for Catalans. He scored twice in Trinity’s defeat at London last time out and is their top try scorer this season, having touched down eight times.
Tasked with stopping Fifita in his tracks is Julian Bousquet. The France international is closing in on 150 Super League appearances and he will need to use all of that know-how to help prevent Fifita from having a significant impact on the game. Whilst the Frenchman might not be the flashiest player in the Catalans side, his work shouldn’t go unnoticed and he needs to produce a massive performance on Saturday.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday 25th May
Kick-off: 2.00pm BST
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas
WHO WILL WIN?
The form book suggests Catalans will come out on top in this one despite missing the likes of Tomkins, Bird and McIlorum. Wakefield’s inconsistent form and lack of success in previous Magic Weekend games (they’ve won just four of their 12 Magic Weekend fixtures) all point to a Catalans win. Catalans win by eight points.