Super League: Catalan Dragons v Widnes Vikings preview
Last Updated: 12/04/14 11:57am
Eddie Hemmings, John Kear and Paul Cullen preview Catalan v Widnes
Widnes Vikings have the chance to underline their status as Super League play-off contenders by claiming a first win over Catalan Dragons on Saturday afternoon.
Denis Betts' men were humiliated 76-6 on their inaugural visit to Perpignan two years ago but halted a three-match losing run at the hands of the Dragons when they drew 32-32 at the Halton Stadium last June, and they travelled to the south of France with confidence having won five of their first six matches of the season.
The Vikings also pushed the Catalans to the wire in a pre-season friendly at Stade Gilbert Brutus but Betts is wary of a side that appears to have turned the corner after beginning the season with five straight losses.
"It's a really tough place to come," Betts said. "They are starting to find their form.
"They played particularly well at home to Huddersfield and they played well against Wigan at Wigan.
"But we're full of confidence at the moment. We've just got to keep our consistency high and the scoreboard will take care of itself.
"When you come to France you have to play well for the 80 minutes. That's what we need to achieve and, if we can do that,, we know we're doing the right thing."
Betts is forced to change his half-back pairing for the fourth time in eight matches after Tom Gilmore joined Joe Mellor on the sidelines with a knee injury sustained in the Vikings' Challenge Cup win at Halifax.
Fortunately for Betts, Danny Craven is fit to resume his partnership with Kevin Brown after recovering from a hamstring injury, while Rhys Hanbury - one of only two overseas players in the squad - returns at full-back.
Betts is forced to switch 21-year-old Declan Hulme to centre for only his second Super League start in the absence of experienced duo Cameron Phelps and Stefan Marsh.
Rhodri Lloyd, who filled in at centre against Halifax, could be facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after sustaining a serious knee injury in that match.
"It's not looking good for Rhodri," Betts said. "He's gone to see a specialist and we're waiting for the report. He may need a micro fracture which could be the end of the season for him.
"Our outside backline is beaten up but it creates a chance for Declan Hulme. He's part-time because he's still at university but he's a young kid we have high hopes for."
The Dragons are without former Warrington second rower Louis Anderson, who was injured in their Challenge Cup win over London, but recall back-row forwards Greg Mounis and Elliott Whitehead after they were rested last week.
Catalan Dragons squad: Escare, Pryce, Pomeroy, Oldfield, Bosc, Elima, Lima, Taia, Mounis, Pelissier, Whitehead, Millard, Simon, Bousquet, Paea, Baitieri, Duport, Cardace, Garcia
Widnes squad: Allen, Brown, Cahill, Clarke, Clough, Craven, Dean, Flynn, Gore, Hanbury, Hulme, Johnson, Joseph, Kavanagh, Leuluai, O'Carroll, Owens, Tickle, White
First Utility Super League
Tue 30th Jun
Hull K R34 - 28Salford Red Devils
Wed 1st Jul
Wakefield Wildcats26 - 16Hull FC
Thu 2nd Jul
Warrington Wolves17 - 6Wigan Warriors
Fri 3rd Jul
Leeds Rhinos46 - 18St Helens
Sun 5th Jul
Huddersfield Giants32 - 14Hull K R
Hull FC31 - 24Wakefield Wildcats
Salford Red Devils18 - 14Catalans Dragons
Castleford Tigers34 - 20Widnes Vikings
Thu 9th Jul
Wigan WarriorsvsLeeds Rhinos
Fri 10th Jul
St HelensvsHuddersfield Giants
Sun 12th Jul
Hull FC0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Salford Red Devils0 - 0Hull K R
Wakefield Wildcats0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Widnes Vikings0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Thu 16th Jul
Warrington WolvesvsSt Helens
Fri 17th Jul
Hull K RvsHull FC
Leeds Rhinos0 - 0Salford Red Devils
Wigan Warriors0 - 0Widnes Vikings
Sat 18th Jul
Catalans DragonsvsHuddersfield Giants
Sun 19th Jul
Wakefield Wildcats0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Thu 23rd Jul
Hull FCvsWigan Warriors
Fri 24th Jul
St Helens0 - 0Hull K R
Sun 26th Jul
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Wakefield Wildcats
Leeds Rhinos0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Widnes Vikings0 - 0Salford Red Devils
Castleford Tigers0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Super League 2014, round eight
Tony Rea praises the uber-experienced Paul Wellens and Jamie Peacock in his Super League review.
Catalan Dragons coach Laurent Frayssinous hailed the performance of Elliott Whitehead in the 42-20 win over Widnes.
Elliott Whitehead helped himself to a hat-trick of tries as Catalan Dragons eased past Widnes 42-20 in Perpignan.
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