Coaching change and desperation may not be enough to save Widnes
Catalans pushing to escape bottom four
Betfred Super League
Sky Sports Arena red button, 5pm Saturday
Widnes ended last season with a win at Catalans which guaranteed their Betfred Super League survival and they started this campaign with a crushing home success over the Dragons that left their fans optimistic about the year ahead.
But the Vikings have won only two league matches since then and are now propping up the pile.
Last week, the club sacked Denis Betts after eight seasons in charge and appointed former Bradford boss Francis Cummins as interim head coach.
Cummins is 7-2 to kick off with a win against a Catalans side who have hauled themselves off the foot of the table and into the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-finals with an impressive run of six wins in seven games.
Any thoughts of a Wembley final can be put on the back-burner for two months though, with the semi against St Helens not until August 5.
Coach Steve McNamara names the same side who beat Huddersfield last time out, apart from replacing injured leading tryscorer Jodie Broughton with Fouad Yaha.
The Dragons have given themselves a real chance of avoiding a bottom-four finish but the Vikings are in desperate trouble with six away games in their final eight fixtures, one of which is at league leaders St Helens.
At least Cummins is able to recall a number of key players for this vital match with Rhys Hanbury, Aaron Heremaia, Ted Chapelow and Ryan Ince all available. Weller Hauraki is set to make his Widnes debut having joined on loan from Salford.
The poser for punters is whether the Vikings coaching change and their desperate plight is enough to produce a performance that can keep them within the 12-point handicap.
The fixture has a last-chance-saloon feel to it for Widnes, so backing them with the start looks the way to go but it could be worth adopting a conservative strategy and also backing the hosts to win by between 11 and 20 points.
Five of Widnes’s defeats in their current miserable run have come by that margin and so did their three most recent losses in France.
There is also the slim possibility of both wagers winning if the Dragons prevail by ten or 11 points.
2pts Evs bet365, Betfred
Catalans to win by 11 to 20 points
1pt 3-1 Paddy Power
World Cup quizzes
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