Catalans Dragons host Leeds Rhinos tomorrow in Perpignan as both sides look to bounce back after disappointing defeats last time out.
Laurent Frayssinous has named two changes to the side easily beaten by a tough Wakefield Trinity outfit. He names Louis Anderson and Brayden Wiliame in place of the injured Krisnan Inu and the influential Luke Walsh.
The Dragons’ form has been really hit and miss this season, with strong away wins against Huddersfield and Leigh, and a great win over Salford at home, mixed in with heavy defeats to Wakefield and Wigan. Normally we say the Dragons are extremely strong at home, but their form away from home has been a lot better than their home form. They had a similar pattern last season however they were slightly stronger overall, at least in the first part of the season.
Brian McDermott will be without Ryan Hall and Kallum Watkins after selection for England against Samoa – and Mitch Garbutt will miss the game in the South of France since becoming a Dad recently. In their place, Leeds have named a few youngsters including impressive Jack Walker, Mikel Oledzki and Jordan Lilley, who returns from his loan from Bradford Bulls. Liam Sutcliffe could also return after suffering from concussion.
The Rhinos form, barring last week’s poor defeat to lowly Huddersfield, has been largely consistent and free-scoring. They have found their scoring touch again; with 52 points against Hull FC and 46 against Widnes in recent weeks. But their defensive flaws remain, with soft tries being conceded against sides they ought to be beating if they are to remain in the top four.
Jack Smith takes charge of this game and his authoritative presence will have a strong bearing on the flow of the game. He’s a referee that takes no nonsense and so this game should be open to some attacking rugby, if the weather holds up. With that in mind, Luke Walsh will be a big miss for the Dragons but Richie Myler will look to fill that void and organise his big forwards and take responsibility of the structures in attack.
I feel that Leeds need a big game from Matt Parcell and some of their young contingent such as Oledzki and the returning Jack Ormondroyd. They’ll need to muscle up in the pack but also have their attack clicking in the Dragons’ 20-metre zone. It’ll do them no good being one dimensional like they were against Huddersfield and previously at Warrington.
Catalans Dragons: Gigot, Wiliame, Yaha, Myler, Moa, Aiton, Casty, Anderson, Bird, Bousquet, Garcia, Bosc, Duport, Simon, Thornley, Albert, Margalet, Belmas, Perez.
Leeds Rhinos: Golding, Briscoe, Moon, McGuire, Burrow, Galloway, Parcell, Cuthbertson, Joes-Buchanan, Ward, Sutcliffe, Delaney, Singleton, Mullally, Handley, Ormondroyd, Lilley, Oledzki, Walker.
Prediction: Catalans 24-28 Rhinos