Two sides with big hopes for the season will battle it out in the South of France, as Warrington look to turn a corner.
Catalans are without some key players, but on home turf and with a two-week rest since their dismantling of Castleford, they will feel confident against an out of form side.
For Warrington, despite having plenty of time in the season to go they will not want to leave it much longer before finding their usual form, and a vital win against the third place side will be huge.
For the home side, the return of last year’s Man of Steel Sam Tomkins will be a boost. Alongside him, NRL bound backrow Joe Chan comes into the squad. Injuries still plague Catalans however, as Josh Drinkwater, Mike McMeeken, Samisoni Langi and Dean Whare all miss out.
Gareth Widdop is a big absence for Warrington, and after much speculation on his fitness he does not make the 21-man squad. There is one positive for Warrington fans, however, as Stefan Ratchford is brought back in.
Match Preview – Key Battles:
Mitchell Pearce vs George Williams: With both players missing their regular halfback partner, the onus will be even greater on these two world class talents. Both players, although having had bright periods, have not been playing their best rugby and so with even greater pressure on their shoulders, the game may come down to which player can control the game. If Warrington’s forwards are able to perform, then George Williams’ kicking game close to the line may be Warrington’s key to victory.
Julian Bousquet vs Mike Cooper: This battle is not just about the props themselves, but the battle between the forward packs. For these veteran forwards, winning the arm wrestle will be hugely important in terms of the result, with Catalans likely to see it as their main area of advantage. They are both going to run with intent and lead by example in what is likely to be a bruising encounter.
Where the game will be won and lost:
As mentioned, the battle in the middle will be an interesting one, with Warrington looking to limit Catalans where possible. With Bousquet, Dudson, Kasiano and Napa all available, this will be a real handful, and it is what will likely win the game for the Dragons. However, Warrington still possess some quality in the forwards, and Daryl Clark will look to do some damage of his own when the opportunity arises. If the visitors can play the game on their terms, and put the ball through hands and target Catalans’ flanks then Warrington may pick up a much needed two points.
Catalans Dragons 18-14 Warrington Wolves