Venue: Select Security Stadium
Kick off: 15:00
Referee: Robert Hicks
Widnes Vikings: 5 Patrick Ah Van, 13 Hep Cahill, 17 Chris Clarkson, 14 Chris Dean, 35 Gil Dudson, 2 Paddy Flynn, 11 Danny Galea, 25 Alex Gerrard, 26 Tom Gilmore, 1 Rhys Hanbury, 33 Aaron Heremaia, 16 Willie Isa, 24 Macgraff Leuluai, 10 Manase Manuokafoa, 4 Stefan Marsh, 7 Joe Mellor, 8 Eamon O’Carroll, 15 Jack Owens, 28 Matt Whitley.
Catalans Dragons: 1 Morgan Escaré, 3 Ben Pomeroy, 6 Todd Carney, 7 Scott Dureau, 9 Ian Henderson, 10 Rémi Casty, 12 Louis Anderson, 13 Greg Mounis, 15 Jeff Lima, 16 Eloi Pelissier, 17 Elliott Whitehead, 18 Ben Garcia, 21 Julian Bousquet, 24 Jason Baitieri, 27 Fouad Yaha, 28 Tony Gigot, 29 Thibaut Margalet, 30 Krisnan Inu, 31 Jordan Sigismeau.
Last Seven Meetings:
Catalans 32-16 Widnes (SLR9 6/4/15)
Widnes 26-26 Catalans (SLR15 30/5/14)
Catalans 42-20 Widnes (SLR8 12/4/14)
Widnes 32-32 Catalans (SLR17 2/6/13)
Catalans 46-14 Widnes (SLR7 16/3/13)
Widnes 34-42 Catalans (SLR14 20/5/12)
Catalans 76-6 Widnes (SLR9 31/3/12)
If Widnes Vikings are to keep alive their top 8 hopes, they will need to claim a first-ever win over Catalans Dragons on Sunday.
The Vikings have come close to beating the Dragons the last two times they have hosted the French side, but both games finished up as draws, while the Dragons have won all five of the side’s other meetings.
Widnes are currently down in 10th place in Super League, three points behind Hull FC and Hull KR, who are eighth and ninth respectively.
The Dragons are one place and two points ahead of Hull FC but by no means assured of a place in the top 8 with three rounds left to play.
Denis Betts’ men have lost four league games and were knocked out of the Challenge Cup by St Helens since their last victory at the end of May, but they have won five and drawn one of their nine home games in Super League so far this season.
The Vikings head coach admitted that Super League XX has been disappointing for his team: “It’s an uphill struggle. We’re in a bit of hole at the moment – we’ve got patches in games when we’re playing exceptionally well and patches that aren’t good enough,” he told BBC Sport.
“It’s been a disappointing year so far but we’ve had some really good performances in there.”
Widnes are boosted by the return of Patrick Ah Van and Stefan Marsh for Sunday’s game but are still without Lloyd White, Danny Tickle, and Kevin Brown through injury.
Outside back Jack Owens has a tremendous record against the Dragons, scoring six tries in four appearances against them.
Meanwhile, Catalans have been poor away from the Stade Gilbert Brutus this season, winning just one of their 10 away league fixtures so far – a 40-4 triumph at Wakefield at the start of April.
The Dragons have been inconsistent themselves in recent weeks, too, winning two, losing two and drawing one of their last five games.
Todd Carney is named in Laurent Frayssinous’ provisional squad having recovered from a pectoral tear he suffered at the end of May. The controversial stand-off has made only seven appearances for the Dragons in an injury-hit first year in France.
Youngster Jordan Segismeau could make his Dragons debut while 22 year-old prop Thibault Margalet is bidding to make his first Super League appearance of the season.
Despite the recent indifferent form of his team, and a host of players sidelined through injury, Frayssinous is adamant that Catalans will be in the top 8 in three rounds time, although he was disappointed with the performance in last week’s defeat to Salford: “We didn’t respect the ball and our game management was poor as was our kicking.
“We weren’t smart enough in some areas and there are big areas for improvement. But I’m not worried about the top eight. We will definitely finish in the top eight,” he told LoveRugbyLeague.com.
Prediction: Dragons by 2 – The return of Todd Carney for Catalans could swing this game in their favour. The Dragons have not lost in Super League this season when Carney has partnered Dureau in the halves and with Widnes without Kevin Brown, this could be the end of their top 8 hopes – but they’ll make the Dragons work for it.