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Catalans Dragons vs Wigan Warriors: Team news, match preview and score prediction

Wigan play in the South of France for the second time in two weeks and will need a much more assured performance if they’re to overcome last year’s league leaders.

After falling to St Helens in Round One, Steve McNamara’s side have been unbeaten in their three games since, including an impressive victory over Warrington last week.

Wigan are one of just two sides with an unblemished record this season, but they failed to make lightwork of Toulouse in Round Four, with a Harry Smith drop goal proving the difference.

Team News:

Catalans have multiple key players returning this week, including reigning Man of Steel Sam Tomkins. Micky McIlorum and Gil Dudson return from suspension as well as Joe Chan who comes back from injury. This bodes well for a side who has already been able to keep to winning ways with some huge absences.

Wigan Warriors have named an unchanged 21-man squad. The wait to see Bevan French in 2022 continues.

Match Preview – Key Battles:

Sam Tomkins vs Jai Field: Jai Field has been sensational this season after a frustrating 2021, and has already scored six tries. His running threat is no secret and Catalans will have to work hard to shut him down. However, Catalans’ no.1 won’t allow himself to be outdone, and will look to show why he was named Man of Steel last year. His vision and intelligence will be key if he is to guide his side to victory against his former club.

Mitchell Pearce vs Cade Cust: Cade Cust arrived at Wigan with the unenviable task of filling Jackson Hastings’ boots. Despite the high expectations Wigan fans put on their players, Cust has looked comfortable for the most part and has been a key part of Wigan’s early success. Pearce also arrived in Super League to great expectations, and although he hasn’t yet stood out for the Dragons, his experience at the very top level is likely to show in a game of this size.

Mike McMeeken vs Liam Farrell: McMeeken has been underrated during his time at Catalans and has again been brilliant this season. His size is a real threat if he is shown a gap, which is why this battle will be so important with Farrell set to face up against him on Catalans’ right. There is probably no one in Super League you would rather have up against a dangerous back rower than Liam Farrell. Yet again he has started the season brilliantly, and he is himself a danger when he carries the ball at a scattered defence.

Where the game will be won and lost:

With so many changes being made to Catalans’ side, it’s difficult to know how they will play. On the other hand, Wigan are generally a side where you know what to expect. They will look to shut Catalans down at any opportunity, using their speed advantage to create openings in the wider areas. The likes of Bateman, Isa and Farrell will make the game as difficult as possible for the opposition with aggressive defence. If Catalans are to make the most of their returning stars, ruck speed and set completion will be key. Drinkwater, Tomkins and Pearce have more than enough quality and experience to outshine their opposite numbers providing their forwards give them field position. Ultimately, however, Wigan’s defence will likely nullify much of what a Catalans side that has not been scoring freely will be able to do.

Score Prediction: Catalans Dragons 12-20 Wigan Warriors

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