Widnes are the visitors in the South of France this weekend as Catalans look to remain undefeated and the Vikings look for their first victory of the season.
Team news and form – Catalans Dragons
Laurent Frayssinous has lost two players in Sam Moa and Julian Bousquet to injury and Jason Baitieri to suspension. In their place, Luke Burgess could finally make his debut since his move from the Red Devils, whilst Lucas Albert and Tarbaud Margalt also enter contention.
The Dragons are undefeated so far this season after impressive wins against Warrington at home and Hull FC away last Thursday.
They looked comfortable and assured in both games, especially when the score-line was tight going into the final stages. There isn’t much difference between their form so far at home and away, which is a good thing as Catalans are normally so strong at home but falter away from the South of France.
Team news and form – Widnes Vikings
Denis Betts names an unchanged squad that fell bitterly short against Wigan, despite all the controversy and injuries to his side. He looks set to go with the same partnership in the halves that almost got the Vikings their first win of the season, in Danny Craven and Chris Bridge, the latter no stranger to the halves from his days at Warrington.
Unfortunately, injuries have scuppered any chances of Widnes gaining a realistic victory. However, that didn’t stop them running defending Champions Wigan close, just losing 28-26. They managed well so far without star player Joe Mellor, but it is clear they’re going to struggle now England international Kevin Brown has gone to rivals Warrington Wolves.
Ones to watch and where the game will be won
The men to watch are former Wire players Richie Myler and Chris Bridge, both showing top form so far in 2017. It’s an interesting battle between the two in the halves as they know each other very well, especially as Widnes look desperate for their first points and win in Perpignan.
With that said, the game will be won by one of those two if the forwards lay a great platform. We saw last week that the Vikings can cope with injuries and fight well in the face of adversity, so I see no issue in regards to squad strength between the two sides.
Catalans Dragons Squad: Paul Aiton, Lucas Albert, Louis Anderson, Greg Bird, Thomas Bosc, Jodie Broughton, Luke Burgess, Remi Casty, Alrix Da Costa, Vincent Duport, Benjamin Garcia, Justin Horo, Krisnan Inu, Thibaud Margalet, Richie Myler, Mickael Simon, Iain Thornley, Luke Walsh and Brayden Wiliame.
Widnes Vikings Squad: Patrick Ah Van, Tom Armstrong, Chris Bridge, Jack Buchanan, Hep Cahill, Jay Chapelhow, Danny Craven, Gil Dudson, Rhys Hanbury, Aaron Heremaia, Chris Houston, Jordan Johnstone, MacGraff Leuluai, Stefan Marsh, Tom Olbison, Charly Runciman, Corey Thompson, Lloyd White and Matt Whiteley.
Prediction: Catalans 28-20 Widnes.