After losing the Challenge Cup Final in heart breaking fashion at the Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium, Huddersfield have to turn their attentions back to Super League with Ian Watson laying down the gauntlet well before the final and after it that he intends to continue to be a threat in the league.
But it won’t be easy as they take on last year’s Grand Finalists Catalans Dragons. The French side are quietly going about their business at the top of the league and pushing St Helens and Wigan.
After a week off, they’ll hope to catch the Giants out.
The Dragons will have to do without Julian Bousquet due to suspension whilst Josh Drinkwater, Samisoni Langi and Dean Whare are all absent through injury. The big news though is the return of Mike McMeeken after a wrist injury.
Catalans have a key forward back from injury whilst the Giants lose one in the shape of Chris Hill after he limped off in the Challenge Cup Final with a calf injury. There is still no Theo Fages and Luke Yates drops out through suspension. Jake Wardle is back in the mix this week as Olly Russell and Oliver Wilson also drop out of the 21-man squad.
Match Preview – Key Battles:
Sam Tomkins vs Tui Lolohea: The tough challenge for Tui Lolohea is not blaming himself for the defeat. He missed four conversions that if he had nailed only two of them could have seen the Giants win the trophy. Having a brilliant season, he still has what it takes to conjure up some magic in France but will be against the reigning of Man of Steel who has been rediscovering his best form recently.
Mitchell Pearce vs Will Pryce: After being left out of the Challenge Cup Final having only just completed his suspension, this may be the perfect time to reintroduce the livewire Will Pryce who has the keys to unlock any defence even one of the meanest around. However, he’ll learn a lot win, lose or draw against one of the most experienced halfbacks in the shape of Mitchell Pearce who will look to outfox the youngster. He’ll strive to pepper the Giants back three with dangerous kicks to give the Dragons a foothold in the game. Should this result in extra territory his ability to spray the ball around will create chances for the Dragons’ big outside backs.
Michael McIlorum vs Danny Levi: Two of the league’s in form hookers who bring very different assets to their side will tussle in the middle of the pitch tomorrow. McIlorum is a tough organiser who won’t give anyone an inch but he may have to concede some yardage to the livewire Levi who is always a threat.
Where the game will be won and lost:
Huddersfield have shown time and time again that they have the tools to match and even beat the top teams including the Dragons. But the biggest hurdle for them, asides from the journey over to France, will be dealing with the bitter blow of losing a final in the manner that they did. If they go to France still thinking about London, they’ll lose.
Score Prediction: Catalans Dragons 28-12 Huddersfield Giants