Everyone expected Catalans to defeat Huddersfield last week and continue to quietly keep the pressure up on St Helens at the top.
However, despite a week’s extra rest and the fact they were up against a Giants side hurting from cup final heartache, the Dragons were caught cold something they can’t afford to happen here if they want to remain in second place and chasing the Champions.
Likewise, Hull FC were shocked at Wakefield last week removing the safety net they had between them and the chasing pack where the play-offs are concerned. They need a win as much as the Dragons if not more.
Hull FC have made three changes to their squad this week with Josh Bowden, Jake Connor and Scott Taylor absent. Taylor is serving a ban whilst Jake Connor is the biggest blow owing to a 12-week injury. Fortunately, Carlos Tuimavave is back and is joined by Mitieli Vulikijapani and Charlie Severs.
There’s changes too for Catalans. Samisoni Langi is back from injury and Julian Bousquet returns from a ban to replace Gil Dudson and Benjamin Jullien in the squad.
Match Preview – Key Battles:
Arthur Mourgue vs Joe Lovodua: These two generally play different positions, although their versatility lends itself to some overlap, however they both provide their team with a certain explosivity that makes them so key to their offence. Expect highlight reels from both players here.
Michael McIlorum vs Danny Houghton: Two very experienced hookers who are great at organising and maintaining defensive strength in the middle, these two are likely to set the tone for a physical affair which could be a chess match down the middle first and foremost.
Sam Kasiano vs Chris Satae: Both big, powerful and explosive forwards who typify the kind of physicality their teams bring to the game, they will look to get their side on top as defences tire. Their ability to break tackles could open the game up a bit.
Where the game will be won and lost:
Both these teams have tremendous physicality due to the number of big props at their disposal so the early exchanges are likely to take place down the middle. You’d fancy one side, possibly the Dragons given home advantage, to get a foothold in this area and then begin stretching defences off quick rucks.
Score Prediction: Catalans Dragons 22-12 Hull FC