Magic Weekend preview: Catalan Dragons v Huddersfield Giants

Date: 31/05/2015
Venue: St James’ Park, Newcastle
Kick-Off: 13:00
Referee: Ben Thaler

Teams:

Catalan Dragons: Morgan Escare, Willie Tonga, Michael Oldfield, Todd Carney, Scott Dureau, Olivier Elima, Ian Henderson, Remi Casty, Zeb Taia, Louis Anderson, Greg Mounis, Eloi Pelissier, Elliott Whitehead, Mathias Pala, Julian Bousquet, Antoni Maria, Jason Baitieri, Fouad Yaha, Tony Gigot.

Huddersfield Giants: Scott Grix, Jermaine McGillvary, Joe Wardle, Aaron Murphy, Danny Brough, Luke Robinson, Eorl Crabtree, Craig Huby, Brett Ferres, Jack Hughes, Michael Lawrence, Craig Kopczak, Kyle Wood, Ukuma Ta’ai, Jodie Broughton, Anthony Mullally, Jamie Ellis, Jake Connor, Kruise Leeming.

Last ten meetings:

Huddersfield 38-14 Catalan (SLR11 19/4/15)
Huddersfield 16-18 Catalan (SLPOE 26/9/14)
Huddersfield 38-16 Catalan (SLR22 27/7/14)
Catalan 30-14 Huddersfield (SLR6 22/3/14)
Huddersfield 60-16 Catalan (SLR20 28/6/13)
Catalan 20-28 Huddersfield (SLR13 27/4/13)
Huddersfield 36-18 Catalan (SLR23 5/8/12)
Catalan 27-20 Huddersfield (SLR13 5/5/12)
Huddersfield 28-20 Catalan (SLR18 18/6/11)
Catalan 13-12 Huddersfield (SLR13 30/4/11)

Preview

Catalan Dragons and Huddersfield Giants will get day two of Magic Weekend underway at St James’ Park on Sunday.

Both sides have won their last two Super League matches, with the Giants controversially defeating Castleford and the Dragons demolishing Wigan last week.

Laurent Frayssinous, Catalan’s head coach, is understandably in confident mood following last week’s 58-16 win over last season’s Grand Finalists; “I think the win against Wigan was our best performance of this season, because we played well both in attack and defence.

“We showed what we are capable of if we’re all on the same page, defensively and offensively.

“We laid down a marker, and we will push on.”

Vincent Duport, Ben Pomeroy and Ben Garcia all remain sidelined through injury, while Jeff Lima is suspended for the trip to Tyneside.

Frayssinous makes just one change to the 19-man squad following last week’s victory with Matthias Pala replacing Damien Cardace.

Second rower Zeb Taia will be hoping to maintain his fine form on Sunday; the Cook Islander is now the Dragons’ leading try scorer this season and has touched down six ties in his last three Super League games.

Meanwhile, Huddersfield head coach Paul Anderson says he and his players have prepared thoroughly ahead of their second meeting of three this season against the Dragons; “We know what to expect from Catalans,” he told the Huddersfield Examiner.

“And it’s important that we know what to expect from St James’ Park, which is a great venue. I don’t want anything to spook the players.”

“We had three games against them last season, and I’m looking forward to the challenge of playing them again,” added Anderson.

“They have been building well for the last month, they have won their last three games (against St Helens, Featherstone Rovers and Wigan Warriors) so we have a test on our hands.”

Anderson has also made just one change to his squad, with Jamie Ellis replacing Oliver Roberts. If the former Castleford, Hull FC and St Helens half-back features on Sunday it will be his 70th career Super League appearance.

Despite crashing out of the Challenge Cup at the hands of Leeds Rhinos earlier this month, Huddersfield have been in good form in Super League, winning four and drawing one of their last five games – conceding just 58 points in the process.

The Giants have won five of their eight Magic Weekend fixtures, including their last two, while Catalan have managed four victories from their eight Magic Weekend matches, with three coming against London Broncos over the past three seasons.

Prediction: Huddersfield by 6 – This could be the game of the Weekend with both teams in fine form of late. Catalan were on fire last week but the Giants’ defence has improved drastically recently, with the only blip that Cup defeat. The return of Ellis to take some of the responsibility of Brough and offer more creativity is a huge boost and I think it will just give them the edge in what looks like a tight contest.

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