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MATCH PREVIEW | Wigan Warriors vs Catalans Dragons

Wigan Warriors can secure their place in the end of season play-offs, if they beat Catalans Dragons at the DW Stadium on Friday night, with the French side’s play-off hopes all but over after they were beaten at home by Hull KR last weekend. Wigan are in red-hot form, whilst the Dragons come in to the game on the back of three consecutive defeats. Here’s everything you need to know.

 

TEAM FORM GUIDE

Wigan Warriors

The Warriors are bang in-form and will be difficult to stop as we head towards the end of season play-offs. Their 24-16 win at Wakefield Trinity last time out was far from vintage, but it keeps their momentum going, having won 10 of their last 11 Super League matches. Adrian Lam’s side have found form at exactly the right time and, having looked well off the pace at the start of the season, should now finish as runners-up in the league table behind fierce rivals St Helens.

Catalans Dragons

Catalans’ season has tailed off in the last few weeks, having been well-placed for a top-five finish at the start of August. They suffered a disappointing 24-6 home defeat to relegation threatened Hull KR last weekend, having lost their previous two Super League matches to London Broncos and Leeds Rhinos respectively. The French side must now aim to finish the season strongly with a sixth-place finish looking their best bet with two matches left to play in 2019.

 

SQUAD NEWS

Wigan Warriors

Wigan have made one change to the 19-man squad that won at Wakefield last Sunday.

Harry Smith replaces Amir Bourouh, in an otherwise unchanged Warriors squad, with Jarrod Sammut still sidelined with an ankle injury.

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Captain Sean O’Loughlin and prop-forward Ben Flower are also sidelined but should be back in contention to play Castleford Tigers next week.

Wigan’s 19-man squad: Burgess, Byrne, Clubb, Farrell, French, Gildart, Greenwood, Hankinson, Hardaker, Isa, Leuluai, Marshall, Navarrete, Partington, Powell, Sarginson, Smith, Smithies, Williams.

Catalans Dragons

Steve McNamara has made two changes from the side that was beaten by Hull KR in Perpignan last time out.

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Former Wigan man Sam Tomkins returns to the 19-man squad after serving out his three-match suspension.

Hooker Alrix Da Costa is also included with Tony Gigot and David Mead both missing out through injury.

Catalans’ 19-man squad: Wiliame, Tierney, Langi, McIlorum, Edwards, Bird, Bousquet, Simon, Jullien, Whitley, Da Costa, Goudemand, Belmas, Albert, Maria, Baitieri, Romano, Kasiano, Tomkins.

 

HEAD TO HEAD

The two sides met in a historic clash at Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium back in May, with the fixture achieving a record attendance for a Super League match, as Catalans ran out 33-16 winners thanks to two tries from David Mead and the boot of Tony Gigot. Wigan ran out comfortable winners in their first meeting of the season, claiming a 42-0 success at the DW Stadium in March, with Joe Burgess scoring a hat-trick.

The Warriors have won nine of the last 10 meetings between the two teams, with Catalans last claiming an away win against the Cherry and Whites back in April 2011 when they stunned the defending champions to earn a 47-28 success, with Scott Dureau claiming a 23-point haul.

 

KEY BATTLE

Zak Hardaker (Wigan) v Sam Tomkins (Catalans)

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After making a slow start to the 2019 season, Zak Hardaker has enjoyed a purple patch of late, scoring five tries and providing four assists in his last eight Super League matches. The full-back might not be at his very best just yet but is showing glimpses of the form that saw him win the Man of Steel award in 2015. He’s scored a try in each of Wigan’s meetings with Catalans this season and will want to better former Warrior Sam Tomkins on Friday night.

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The fact Catalans have lost all three of their matches in Tomkins’ absence shows just how important the England international is to Steve McNamara’s side. His last three outings in Super League have been phenomenal, scoring three tries and providing six assists which proves that on his day he is still one of the competition’s stand-out players. The 30-year-old will need to be at his very best on Friday night to prevent his former side from claiming yet another victory.

 

THE IMPORTANT DETAILS

Date: Friday 6th September
Venue: DW Stadium
Kick-off: 7:45pm
Referee: Robert Hicks

 

WHO WILL WIN?

This should be a routine success for Wigan, given the form of the two teams and Catalans’ poor recent record at the DW Stadium. Whilst the return of Sam Tomkins gives the French side hope of claiming a surprise victory, the Warriors should be too strong for the Dragons in this one. Wigan to win by 18 points.

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