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Tuesday, 15 January, 2019

St Helens may have to settle for narrow win in France

Catalans have lost only once at home to Saints since 2013

Ben Barba scores the first try in St Helens' 46-6 thrashing of Castleford
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Catalans v St Helens
Sky Arena, 5.05pm Saturday

The opening round of the 2018 Betfred Super League was chalk and cheese as far as St Helens and Catalans were concerned.

While Saints produced the best display of round one when hammering Castleford 46-6, the Dragons were responsible for the worst, capitulating to a 40-12 hiding at wooden-spoon favour­ites Widnes.

The sponsors make Justin Holbrook's team 3-1 market leaders for Grand Final glory and those odds could shorten further if Saints repeat last season's success in Perpignan on Saturday.

Eleven months ago they crossed the Channel as underdogs after a dismal start to the year and edged home 28-24 to record their first victory on French soil since 2013.

This time they go off as 3-10 chances and are asked to concede a double-digit start on the handicap.

The puzzle for punters is whether bookmakers have over­reacted to results in the opening weekend.

Saints played some scintillating stuff against Cas with Ben Barba and Marc Percival outstanding and they will field the same side with the exception of the injured Ryan Morgan being replaced by Adam Swift.

However, there is no guarantee they will play at that lofty level again or that the Dragons will be as woeful.

Catalans boss Steve McNamara is boosted by the return of talis­man Greg Bird but Sam Moa is suspended.

The French outfit have already been cut to 4-11 from 4-9 by Betfred for a bottom-four finish and if there is no reaction to the limp loss at Widnes, then they're in serious trouble.

The Dragons need to restore the reputation of the Stade Gilbert Brutus as one of the toughest places to visit in Super League.

Last season Catalans won just four of their 13 home games against top-flight opposition.

The passionate home crowd will demand their side put up a fight and although Saints should ultimately have too much class, the visitors may have to work hard for the two points.

Backing St Helens to triumph by two converted tries or fewer at 2-1 appeals.

St Helens to win by one to 12 points
2pts 2-1 general

Rod Studd's Hull v Wigan preview

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The passionate home crowd will demand their side put up a fight and although Saints should ultimately have too much class
E.W. Terms
Sky bet