Challenge Cup fifth round: Bradford Bulls v Catalan Dragons preview
Last Updated: 25/04/14 4:58pm
Bradford Bulls will be hoping for some Tetley's Challenge Cup relief against Catalan Dragons after enduring a tough period of Super League play.
The Bulls lost both their Easter games after following up a 46-6 home defeat to Leeds Rhinos with an emphatic thumping 84-6 thrashing at Wigan Warriors.
In contract, the Dragons are a team firing on all cylinders following a sluggish start to the new campaign. Catalan overcame Hull KR 37-24 on Easter Monday after seeing off London Broncos 28-22 the week before.
The Bulls have a proud tradition in the Cup thanks to five wins from 11 finals while the Dragons, who only joined Super League in 2005, have reached one final (2007).
Bradford have strengthened ahead of the Cup clash following the loan arrival of Jay Pitts while former Dragons man Jamal Fakir is set to face his former club for the first time since his acrimonious exit.
Bulls head coach Francis Cummins is also boosted by the availability of Matt Diskin, Luke George, Jamie Foster and Adam Sidlow.
"We need to beat Catalan and are determined to achieve our objection this weekend," Fakir told Bradford's official website. "I have a lot of history with the Dragons, as I played there for more than 10 years - my whole career.
"My sole focus is now on the Bulls, though, and I am delighted to be here. There are improvements to be made and we need to perform better - for the full 80 minutes - but we are capable of getting through to the next round."
Dragons head coach Laurent Frayssinous has made two changes this 19-man squad for their trip to Bradford.
Co-Captain Greg Mounis and Jeff Lima, who won the Cup with Wigan in 2011, drop out of the squad while Julian Bousquet and Joan Guasch return after sitting out their success over Rovers.
Catalan second row Elliott Whitehead is very much a man in form and the former Bulls ace is looking forward to making a return to Odsal on Sunday.
"It will be good to go back to Bradford, although it will be much earlier than I expected. It is going to be a tough game and we are really going to have to put in a good performance to get through to the next round," he said.
"Bradford have quality throughout their team. Matt Diskin has had vast experience in the Challenge Cup with Leeds and Luke Gale has a fantastic kicking game but anyone in that team is more than capable of posing an equally huge threat.
"We cannot afford to not play well and let them have the ball too easily, they have had a difficult start to the season but so have we and so we cannot take them too lightly."
Bradford Bulls: Bates, Henry, Olbison, Purtell, Gale, Fakir, Kear, Walker, George, Mellor, Diskin, Pitts, Foster, Manuokafoa, Addy, Gaskell, Sidlow, Kearney, O'Brien.
Catalan Dragons: Escare, Pryce, Pomeroy, Oldfield, Bosc, Elima, Taia, Anderson, Maria, Pelissier, Whitehead, Millard, Pala, Bousquet, Paea, Baitieri, Duport, Garcia, Guasch.
Ladbrokes Challenge Cup
Tetleys Challenge Cup 2014 R5
Salford owner Marwan Koukash willl look to Australia as he steps up his search for a new director of football.
Rob Burrow says he is confident Leeds will be able to get by for a couple of months without himself and Paul Aiton.
Head coach Francis Cummins said it was a massive boost for his struggling Bradford side to knock out Catalan Dragons.
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