SUPER LEAGUE expert Kaine Greenwood (@RetroPress) has found an angle for Saturday afternoon’s live action from Catalonia.
Catalan Dragons v Widnes Vikings | Saturday 17.00 | Sky Sports 1
Catalans host Widnes for just the fifth time in the club's Super League history at the Stade Gilbert Brutus but do so knowing they have had the upper hand on every single occasion.
Laurent Frayssinous' men opened the season with back-to-back defeats – one of which was a poor showing at the SGB in a 38-10 defeat to Hull FC – but since then have hit their straps, only tasting defeat at the hands of table-toppers Warrington in the last six rounds.
Conversely Widnes have been on the wrong end of the scoreline in their previous two, looking off colour.
The attacking fashion in which the Chemics have played for large parts of this season can be highlighted in a number of stats. They are league-leaders in crossing the whitewash, have the most clean breaks of any side, along with the most number of ball carries and top all clubs for number of attacking kicks made but could not click in efforts against St Helens and Warrington.
The Vikings continue to be hampered by being without injured captain Kevin Brown and that seems to have been a factor in Dennis Betts' side only posting four tries over the congested fixture period.
Widnes will also miss Lloyd White, Stefan Marsh and Hep Cahill for this journey. Centre Charly Runciman is back, however, which will boost a side looking to avoid a third-straight defeat.
Such a result will probably mean full-back Rhys Hanbury also has to continue to impress. He has crossed for three tries in his last 160 minutes and consistently causes issues for opposition with his speed and desire to join the attack.
It might be Hanbury’s defensive efforts that are called on most in the afternoon sun here though – the Dragons have posted 32 or more points in all five home meetings this decade racking up 196 points in total.
The return of midfield schemer Richie Myler and serious try target Pat Richards will mean an increased threat on the go-forward for certain. Jodie Broughton, Dave Taylor, Tony Gigot and Richards all have at least four tries to date and Myler isn't out of the action in notching three efforts alongside six assists.
The Dragons themselves remain without Krisnan Inu, who is still serving a ban, while forwards Justin Horo and Remi Casty became victims of the Easter schedule meaning both are out injured.
It is, however, difficult to see the Vikings arriving and settling on French shores like the Normandy invasions of their namesakes in this clash – regardless of their somewhat surprising 2016 upturn or any missing Catalan personnel.
By the same token there is absolutely nothing to write home about in favouring Catalan to win at 1/4!
Considering the home side's propensity to be involved in high-scoring affairs when welcoming opponents and a history against Widnes for exactly that it seems only wise to head in the direction of the points markets.
Castleford's 22-point haul without half Ben Roberts entirely – plus star winger Denny Solomona for 40 minutes of the clash – just last week shows that the switched-off, hap-hazard ways the Dragons display in spells haven't disappeared.
In fact, the French outfit have conceded at least three tries in 7/7 home matches stretching back to last season. As well as four tries in five of previous six home ties (all four this season).
All that said, it is the total match points market that makes most appeal here with Winner offering 5/6 (Winner) that the half-century is broken. This might not be the cricket T20 final but we're sure hoping the score is similar a day early.
Catalan Dragons v Widnes Vikings – Over 50.5 Points (5/6 Winner)
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