The opening weekend of the Super League season concludes with the one match on Sunday as the Widnes Vikings and Catalans Dragons begin their campaigns at the Select Security Stadium. Both sides will have watched everyone else start out and they should be itching to go.
These two teams both had disappointing campaigns last time out and they will want a dramatic improvement this time around beginning with this first match for the pair. Sadly the game is not on TV but all the social media feeds will keep us updated.
It was always going to be a real struggle for the Widnes Vikings last season and it played out in exactly that manner but there is a little more optimism around Denis Betts’ squad this year with the reinforcements that they have made and it will be interesting to see how they run in this first match of the season.
Betts spent much of the close season at the World Cup so he should have picked up even more methods working under Wayne Bennett and it will be intriguing to see if he can implement any of them on his Vikings squad. If Widnes are to remain in Super League they will need to make their home ground a fortress, beginning here.
I wouldn’t have thought many judges would have had the Catalans Dragons in the qualifiers when last season began but they just could not find any consistency and in the end they had to go through the Million Pound Match to remain a Super League side. It goes without saying that they will not want a repeat of that here.
In seasons gone by the Dragons have played an expansive brand of rugby but that is not really Steve McNamara’s style so I will be interested to see if there is a change in approach for the visitors here. One thing that will need to change is their away form. If they are to get back to where they want to be they need to find more road wins.
Widnes Vikings are set to give debuts to their new signings which means Krisnan Inu will immediately line up against his former club. Sam Wilde and Wellington Albert are the other two who could debut.
Catalans Dragons are also likely to have a number of debutants on show in this match. David Mead and Michael McIlorum are two who could feature for the first time but Greg Bird is injured and will miss out.
A number of bookmakers can’t split these two sides which I find interesting. My own gut feeling is that the Widnes Vikings will win this match but I’m not sure I could trust them straight away after their poor campaign last season which is not ideal.
I certainly wouldn’t want to trust the Catalans Dragons on the road especially with the amount of changes they will have made since the end of last season. They have an indifferent record at Widnes too which is far from ideal. If Widnes were a more attractive price I might have taken a punt but it doesn’t really appeal so I’ll sit this out.