Saturday’s game sees unbeaten Warrington travel to Perpignan to face Catalans, who have only managed one win so far. Here’s everything you need to know.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
With a mixed start to the season, the Dragons will want to get off to the best possible start in their next match, against the free-scoring Warrington Wolves. With just one win from their opening three games, the Dragons will be keen to climb the table in a bid to start the second month of the season the right way.
After three wins from three, everybody associated with the Wire will be very pleased. After the best possible start versus Leeds, they have gone from strength to strength. When a team can play as well as they are playing, even when they are not at their best, they must be doing something right.
The main talking point from the week in the Dragons camp is that centre David Mead will miss this game through injury, and possibly quite a few more. So in to replace him comes Fouad Yaha. Yaha was in Catalans’ Challenge Cup winning side and he has come back to sign a contract with the club, in a return from French rugby union. No Benjamin Garcia this week either for the Dragons; the second rower is replaced by Lucas Albert, who is returning to the fold.
After three games, Catalan sit 7th, which isn’t an unusual position for them but with the players they have, they themselves expect to be that bit higher. A win against Warrington would surely shake things up, not just because it’ll be Catalans’ second win, but it would end the Wolves’ unbeaten start.
Catalans Dragons 19-man squad
Gigot, Williame, Tierney, Langi, Smith, Casty, McIlorum, Moa, Edwards, Bousquet, Simon, Jullien, Whitley, Goudemand, Albert, Maria, Baitieri, Yaha, Tomkins.
Since serving his two game ban, Ben Westwood gets his place back in the fold for the Wire. Other than Westwood, there are no new returnees in the Warrington squad. There are also no new injuries for the Cheshire club.
As well as Warrington, St Helens and Castleford are the only two teams who still have their unbeaten starts in tact. All three sides can be in first position over the course of this weekend. Castleford can go back above Saints if they defeat Hull KR on Friday night and then the Wire can leapfrog both of them with a win in the south of France.
Warrington Wolves 19-man squad
Atkins, Austin, Charnley, Clark, Clark, Cooper, Goodwin, Hill, Hughes, King, Lineham, Mamo, Murdoch-Masila, Patton, Philbin, Ratchford, Tasi, Walker, Westwood.
HEAD TO HEAD
Looking head-to-head in the last five matches between the two sides, it shows just one Catalans win, which was possibly the most important one with it being at Wembley in the Challenge Cup Final last year. The other four have been hogged by the Wolves, winning three of them and then a 22-22 draw at the Halliwell Jones Stadium back in July 2018.
There is a fair bit of baggage on this fixture after the two sides came up against each other in the showcase event at Wembley last year; the Wire will very much be out for revenge over the Dragons. Former Wigan player Sam Tomkins, now of Catalans, will really be pushing for the French victory. Opposite fullback Stefan Ratchford, also from Wigan, will be up for the task too.
Warrington will be looking to not just get one over on Catalans from the Challenge Cup Final as said, but they will want to continue their great start to the 2019 campaign. The tussle of the two skippers, the two numbers 8’s, Remi Casty and Chris Hill, will also be very exciting to see who leads their side around the field the best.
Being a hooker is a crucial role; Daryl Clark and Mickey McIlorum know that first hand. Both will want to gain as many metres as they can from dummy half so who will come out on top?
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday 2nd March
Venue: Stade Gilbert Brutus
Kick-off: 5pm GMT
Referee: Robert Hicks
WHO WILL WIN?
The south of France is a tough place to go for any side; you have to be at the top of your game to slay the Dragons. With the way both sides have been playing and comparing their team sheets, I see a Warrington win but by no means comfortable. Catalans Dragons 22-29 Warrington Wolves.