There is one match in the Super League XXVIII season on Saturday evening and it comes from France where the Catalans Dragons will be looking to maintain their 100% start to the season. They take on Hull KR in Perpignan.
Hull KR started the season brightly but it has gone a little pear-shaped in the last couple of weeks. There is no TV coverage of this match in the UK so if you are not making the trip to France it is social media and radio updates to keep on top of the action.
I wasn’t sure what to make of the Catalans Dragons heading into the season. My gut feeling was that they would struggle to replicate the success of the last couple of campaigns largely because of the huge amount of players that left their part of France at the end of last term. They certainly don’t look anything like as strong on paper as they did a year ago, but to their credit they have started the season wonderfully well and looking to make me eat my words.
I still had reservations over what they had beaten in the first three weeks of the season. They had overcome Wakefield Trinity, Hull FC and Leigh Leopards which you would have expected them to do but to go to Wigan Warriors and win last week was a standout result and one which should make anyone take them seriously. There is likely to be more to come from the Dragons too when Sam Tomkins returns but even if that isn’t here then they are usually a formidable force at home.
We are used to getting surprise packages in the Super League and it looked like Hull KR were positioning themselves to be that team this season when they won their opening two matches of the campaign. They didn’t just win their opening two matches but beat Wigan Warriors and Salford Red Devils – the two sides who were beaten in the semi-finals last season. Things have gone a little sour since then though and they find themselves up against it here.
Hull KR go to France having lost their last two matches. The loss to Warrington last week probably wasn’t a disaster but the one the week before against the Leigh Leopards would have disappointed them. They are suffering with some injuries at the minute which is not what they needed but the 17 that go onto the park here are going to have to remain together and be prepared for a tough night. They will need to be clinical with the chances that they do have.
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Catalans Dragons are still going to be without Sam Tomkins and Matt Whitley for this encounter which means that Arthur Mourgue will once again continue to fill in at full-back. Mathieu Laguerre is another who will miss out.
Willie Peters has had some good and bad news ahead of this match. He has Jordan Abdull back in his squad but Matt Purcell will miss out with injury. Shaun Kenny-Dowall continues to serve his suspension and misses out too.
It looks like conditions in Perpignan are not going to be for the faint hearted in this one with the rain set to come in at some point in the match and the temperatures not expected to be too high. I think that could see a few points being scored as defences tire in the sluggish conditions. To be fair, regardless of the conditions I would have expected Catalans to put a few points up here when you consider that the Leigh Leopards put 30 points up on Hull KR a couple of weeks ago.
Hull KR have Jordan Abdull back to pull the strings and set up scoring plays for them and that offers up the hope that they will score, particularly in conditions which will favour the visiting side. Collecting high kicks isn’t going to be easy with a greasy ball and so both full-backs will have their work cut out here. Arthur Mourgue is still new to that position while the Hull KR right side is likely to be makeshift because of injuries. I fancy we can go beyond 37.5 points in this one, especially if the rain comes early in the game.
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