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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Bird could help Catalans fly to Super League safety

Dragons look set to give Centurions a fight

Greg Bird can help Catalans avoid relegation
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Super League playoffs - The Million Pound Game
Sky Sports Arena/Main Event, 3pm Saturday

Thursday and Friday were all about the battle for a place in the Grand Final but attention switches to the scrap for survival in the Betfred Super League as Leigh and Catalans meet in the Million Pound Game.

The winners will line up against the elite again in 2018 but the losers will be consigned to the Championship and at least 12 months in exile.

Last year Salford produced an amazing act of escapology to defeat Hull KR in golden-point extra-time and in 2015, Wakefield edged out Bradford in another nail-biter.

The likelihood is that this will be another tight, tense tussle with so much at stake and consequently the visiting Dragons have to be of interest with a six-point handicap start.

Steve McNamara's men should really be hosting this winner-takes-all showdown. They would have been if they had kicked a late penalty to draw with Widnes last weekend.

Instead they went for the try that would have kept them in Super League without having to enter the last-chance saloon known as Leigh Sports Village and came up short.

So instead of being odds-on to survive, Catalans are 13-8 and that may well underestimate their chances.

The French side are boosted by the return of talisman Greg Bird after a three-match ban as they look to repeat the 37-16 victory they achieved on their previous visit to Leigh in April.

They managed that without Bird's services and the Australian's return is a huge positive. He merits an interest in the man-of-the- match market at 8-1.

The 8-13 Centurions have won their last two matches but it may be unwise to get carried away with the routs of Championship clubs Halifax and London Broncos.

Neil Jukes's side have been beaten at home in the Qualifiers by Hull KR and Widnes and look a short price to prevail especially in the absence of former Catalans hooker Eloi Pelissier.

It would be no surprise if the match was settled by less than a converted try so the Dragons have to be the pick with the six-point buffer.

Centurions winger James Clare has scored in his last four appearances and is 11-1 to open the tryscoring and 5-4 to touch down at any time.

Betway yesterday paid out on Castleford scrum-half Luke Gale being named Man of Steel after the Tigers' extra-time playoff win over St Helens.

Gale, 20-1 for the honour, was one of Racing Post Sport's pre-season picks for the award.

Catalans +6
2pts 5-6 Betway
G Bird man of the match
0.5pt 8-1 Betfred

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The French side are boosted by the return of Greg Bird as they look to repeat the 37-16 victory they achieved on their previous visit to Leigh
E.W. Terms
Sky bet