The Super League continues on Saturday evening with the eyes of the rugby league world descending on France as the Catalans Dragons play host to the Castleford Tigers for two valuable competition points.
This match is attractive in its own right but the focus is going to be on one man here, with Israel Folau expected to make his controversial Dragons debut after being made to wait a couple of weeks before getting onto the field.
Having been caught up in the face of Storm Ciara last weekend, the Catalans Dragons have only actually played one match this season. That was a disappointing and heavy home defeat to the Huddersfield Giants. That form doesn’t look terrible after their win on Friday evening, but even so when you consider the record of the French outfit away from home, they don’t want to be dropping points on their own patch very often.
It might not have been the worst thing in the world that the match last week was postponed because the Dragons are carrying a huge number of injuries at the minute, which is sure to affect their start to the season. It will be interesting to see if all the fall out of the Folau signing will create a siege mentality around the side now that he is set to take to the pitch. There is certainly plenty for Catalans to prove here.
There are no such concerns for the Castleford Tigers going into this match. They survived the storm last week to good effect as they touched off Wigan in a hard-fought contest, a week after they eased past Toronto Wolfpack in the opening week of the season. That was a weakened Tigers outfit that took care of Wigan last week, and we’ve seen them frank that form already in this round of matches which could be significant.
There were concerns that the Tigers wouldn’t be as strong this season as they have been in previous ones, due to the fact that players like Luke Gale have departed, but there has been no discernible slackening in their play. They always give of their all and take it to their opponents, whether they are at home or away. I would expect nothing less of Daryl Powell’s men here I have to say, especially with the confidence they should have.
As I mentioned above Israel Folau is to make his debut in this match. He will come in alongside Lewis Tierney, who has recovered from injury. David Mead and Tom Davies are part of a lengthy list of players missing for the Dragons.
Castleford Tigers welcome key forward Mike McMeeken back from a calf injury for this match. George Griffin is able to play after a knock to the head in the season opener while Tyla Hep is able to return too.
I think the Catalans Dragons will have a good season when everyone is fit and they get up to full speed, but I’m not convinced they are there yet so I’m going to side with the Castleford Tigers in this one. Their win over Wigan Warriors last week caught the eye and they look a stronger outfit personnel wise in this match, which should surely be a positive for them going into the contest down in France.
It might be that the extended break has given the Catalans Dragons the chance to get up to speed, but there will be a lot of unwanted attention and pressure on them here with the Folau debut and the Tigers look primed to take advantage of that. Folau will have a big impression on this competition this season, but whether he can do that without a run out in his legs I’m not so sure. Castleford look to be getting the Dragons at the right time in this one.
Back Castleford Tigers to beat Catalans Dragons for a 4/10 stake at 2.50 with Betway