Either Hull KR or Catalans Dragons will open their 2018 account when both teams meet at KCOM Craven Park in one of two games to be played for round 12 this weekend.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The home side will be buoyed by their efforts last weekend at Elland Road where they stretched current title holders Leeds Rhinos. Tries to Rhys Shaw and Adam Quinlan put Hull KR in a good position at half-time with scores level at 10-all. Rob Mulhern was excellent for his side, running for 178 metres from a game-high 27 runs. This effort erased the memories of a round one loss to Wakefield Trinity, a game where they were totally outplayed on their return to the top league.
Catalans Dragons couldn’t take advantage of a twelve-man St Helens outfit at Stade Gilbert Brutus on Saturday as they went down 21-12. Ex-Broncos David Mead scored for a second week, proving his worth with 16 carried and 158 metres, the best by any Dragon in defeat. It should be noted the effort of Alrix Da Costa and Jason Baitieri in defence, but sixty-eight missed tackles is unacceptable at Super League level, something coach Steve McNamara needs to address quickly.
Two forced changes for Hull KR with Andrew Heffernan and James Greenwood missing this game through concussions coming out of last week’s game. Danny Tickle is a chance of making his debut after being named in the squad. Will Oakes has been included in the side.
Some good news for the French Super League franchise with experienced players Luke Walsh and Paul Aiton returning to the side after injuries. However, rake Michael McIlorum is out suspended and Benjamin Jullien is fighting his suspension. Sam Moa, Samisoni Langi and Louis Anderson are all in the casualty ward. It may not be too long before Tony Gigot makes his return after a doping ban, after committing to Catalans earlier in the week.
It might be a quiet weekend in the Super League but for Hull KR and Catalans Dragons it could be their most important of the season. Both sides made an improvement on their first round defeats, giving two of the more fancied clubs for this year’s title a run for their money.
The return of Luke Walsh and Paul Aiton will bring some much-needed stability to their side. Already David Mead is making a statement as shown in his first two outings for the club. If only the players can rally behind him. They will go into the game as underdogs with a poor record in the United Kingdom over the last twelve months.
Maybe stage fright got the better of Hull KR on opening night. Tim Sheens will be urging his side to produce the same type of first half that put them in a position to knock off Leeds. His commitment to keeping halves pairing Chris Atkin and Danny McGuire can only be good in the long run as they try to build an effective spine that will include fullback Adam Quinlan. Will veteran forward Danny Tickle get a run after his move from Leigh in the off-season?
If you exclude The Qualifiers, Catalans Dragons last win on English soil was back on April 12 last year when they got the better of Huddersfield Giants 29-22. When Catalans Dragons and Hull KR last met in The Qualifiers, only Luke Walsh’s conversion of Brayden Williame’s try was the difference between the two sides with the French club winning 20-19.
Hull KR: Chris Atkin, Maurice Blair, Justin Carney, Chris Clarkson, Lee Jewitt, Ben Kavanagh, Tommy Lee, Shaun Lunt, Matty Marsh, Mose Masoe, Danny McGuire, Thomas Minns, Robbie Mulhern, Will Oakes, Adam Quinlan, Liam Salter, Ryan Shaw, Danny Tickle, Jordan Walne.
Catalans Dragons: Lucas Albert, Paul Aiton, Jason Baitieri, Lambert Belmas, Greg Bird, Julian Bousquet, Jodie Broughton, Rémi Casty, Alrix Da Costa, Vincent Duport, Benjamin Garcia, Thibaud Margalet, David Mead, Mickael Simon, Iain Thornley, Lewis Tierney, Luke Walsh, Brayden Wiliame, Fouad Yaha
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday, February 15 2018
Venue: KCOM Craven Park
Referee: James Child
WHO WILL WIN?