Catalans Dragons Preview

Catalans Dragons Preview widnesvikings.co.uk
pic

22nd September 2017

Widnes Vikings take on Catalans Dragons in a pivotal game at the Stade Gilbert Brutus, in the Super 8s, The Qualifiers. 

Denis Betts’ side come into this game knowing a victory will secure the Club’s place in the Betfred Super League for the 2018 season. 

With this huge game edging closer, take a look at all the team news and injury updates you may need ahead of Saturday's game...

 

Squad News 

The Vikings make two change from the 19-man squad that took on London Broncos in Round Six of The Qualifiers last weekend, as Aaron Heremaia and Corey Thompson return from injury, replacing Jordan Johnstone and Lloyd White, who suffered a hamstring injury in the London victory.. 

Widnes Vikings: Buchanan, Burke, Cahill, Chamberlain, Craven, Dudson, Gerrard, Gilmore, Heremaia, Houston, Ince, Manuokafoa, Marsh, Mellor, Olbison, Runciman, Thompson, D.Walker, Whitley.

Steve McNamara has made just one change to the Dragons side that were victorious in their last Super 8s, the Qualifiers game against Hull Kingston Rovers last weekend, as Lambert Belmas comes in to replace Thomas Bosc.

Catalans Dragons: Inu, Wiliame, Walsh, Myler, Moa, Aiton, Anderson, Horo, Bousquet, Garcia, Baitieri, Duport, Thornley, Albert, Da Costa, Margalet, Belmas, Navarrete, Tierney.

 

Form 

Denis Betts’ side head into the game in decent form, with four wins in their last five games, with their last victory a 38-16 win over London Broncos at the Halton Stadium. With the Club’s other three wins coming against Halifax RLFC, Featherstone Rovers and Leigh Centurions, the Vikings know one more victory on Saturday will secure a Super League place for next year. 

The Catalans Dragons have had an indifferent Super 8s campaign, with two consecutive defeats to Warrington and Leigh putting their place in the Betfred Super League under threat. Steve McNamara’s side claimed a vital and dramatic victory in their last game, away to already promoted Hull Kingston Rovers, to set up a ‘winner-takes-all’ game this Saturday.

Widnes Vikings: LWWWLW           Catalans Dragons: WLLWWW

 

Previous Meetings

In the previous eight meetings between the two sides, both teams have three victories to their name, with two close-fought draws being contested, also. Denis Betts' side are unbeaten in 2017 against the French outfit, with a draw and a victory so far this year. 

4th June 2017: Widnes Vikings win 26-6 at the Halton Stadium

4th March 2017: Draw 14-14 at Stade Gilbert Brutus

6th August 2016: Catalans Dragons win 26-10 at Stade Gilbert Brutus

24th July 2016: Widnes Vikings win 32-4 at the Halton Stadium

2nd April 2016: Catalans Dragons win 21-8 at Stade Gilbert Brutus

12th July 2015: Widnes Vikings win 29-22 at the Halton Stadium

6th April 2015: Catalans Dragons win 32-16 at Stade Gilbert Brutus

30th May 2014: Draw 26-26 at the Halton Stadium

  

Players In Common

Damien Blanch

The Australia-born and Irish representative started out his first grade career at Castleford Tigers in the 2006 season. Following a year with the Tigers, Blanch made the move to Widnes Vikings in the Championship. Damien became a try scoring machine on the wing with 19 tries in 27 appearances, with a Northern Rail Cup Final appearance as the Vikings ran out convincing winners over Whitehaven. The 2008 season brought another change for the winger, this time signing with the rivals of former club Castleford in Wakefield Trinity. Another fruitful spell of tries would occur for Damien, with 36 tries in 52 appearances during his three seasons at Belle Vue. In 2008, Blanch was named in the Ireland squad for the 2008 World Cup, and finished the tournament as one of the top try scorers. Similar form continues the year after in 2009, and his fperformances for both club and country culminated in being award the Ireland Player of the Year for 2009. 

Blanch then joined Catalans Dragons ahead of the 2011 season, and in his debut season in Perpignan, was the Club’s leading scorer with a tally of 17 tries. Just like he had through the rest of the career, Blanch had a record of better than one try every two games, and finished with 46 tries in 75 games, including a superb effort against Huddersfield Giants at The Shay. Blanch’s time in Super League finished in 2013, and played for Ireland in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup before moving back to Australia.  

Richie Myler

Widnes-born Myler rose through the ranks in the Widnes Development Squad, but would only make two appearances for his boyhood Club. With the Vikings going into administration, Myler made the short move across to formerly named Salford City Reds for the 2008 season. In his first season at Salford, Richie scored 25 tries in 32 appearances and helped Shaun McRae’s side to the National League One title, whilst personally winning the Co-Operative Player of the Year award. 

Richie continued with the Club for a further season, Myler's first in Super League, before signing with Warrington Wolves for the 2010 season for a substantial transfer fee. During his time at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, Myler would become one of the form halfbacks in the competition, renowned for his support play and running game and his ability to get across the try line, evident in his record of 77 tries in 139 appearances. After 6 seasons with the Club, with Challenge Cup and League Leaders honours, Myler left Warrington to sign with the Catalans Dragons in 2016. After two years at the French outfit, Richie will return to England to join Leeds Rhinos for 2018 on a three-year deal. With over 200 appearances at 27 years of age, Myler still has years of good rugby left in him which he will hope to produce at Headingley in the coming years. 

Setaimata Sa

With representative honours with Samoa and New Zealand, Setaimata is the list’s arguably most reputable player, with NRL and Super League experience to boot. In 2006, Sa joined the Sydney Roosters and made 66 appearances over four seasons at the Club, crossing for 13 tries, gaining a reputation as a strong utility forward with an eye for the try line. During his time at the Roosters, Sa was called up to represent New Zealand for the 2008 World Cup, and was part of the squad that won the whole competition. 

In 2010, Sa moved to the northern hemisphere to play for the Catalans Dragons under Kevin Walters and Trent Robinson, with Jason Ryles going in the other direction as an exchange for his services. Setaimata became a regular in the Dragons team on their edge, and with a try record of 1 in every 3 games, he was a constant threat for opposition defences. After he left the Dragons for London Irish in 2013, Sa quickly returned in 2014 to rugby league with Hull FC under Lee Radford. Injury hampered his first year on Humberside, before a more solid 2015 season showed his worth to Denis Betts and the Vikings to tie him down for 2016. A brace on his debut at Wakefield Trinity gave the Vikings fans a glimpse of what he can produce, but like his time at Hull, injury cut short Setaimata’s season. He departed the Club at the end of the season, and now plays for Mackay Cutters in the Intrust Super Cup. 

   

Widnes Vikings Milestones 

If selected:

Danny Craven                      2 points will take Danny to 200 points for Widnes

Alex Gerrard                         100th appearance for Widnes

Stefan Marsh                        2 points will take Stefan to 300 career points

Catalans Dragons Preview widnesvikings.co.uk