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Super League match preview: Catalan Dragons v Widnes Vikings
The Catalan Dragons will be hoping to return to winning ways on Saturday against an improving Widnes Vikings side in Perpignan.
The Dragons were blanked 38-0 by Wigan Warriors last Friday, the same night Widnes battled from a 20-4 half-time deficit against Bradford Bulls to claim a 22-22 draw.
The Vikings are much-improved from last season and they will have one eye on revenge after suffering an embarrassing 76-6 loss away to the Dragons in 2012.
The Dragons will be without close-season capture Brent Webb, who is set to miss the remainder of the Super League campaign as he requires back surgery.
The loss of the former New Zealand international is the last thing the club needs with influential Australian scrum-half Scott Dureau sidelined after undergoing surgery in December to remove a brain tumour.
Widnes will be without on-loan Gareth Hock due to a one-match suspension after he was sent off in the 29th minute of last Friday's draw at home to the Bulls.
Also missing for Denis Betts' side is former Wigan centre Cameron Phelps (knee) while Kevin Brown, Stefan Marsh and Danny Craven are also absentees.
The match will be a milestone for Vikings vice-captain Jon Clarke who is set to make his 350th career appearance. He made his first-grade debut for Wigan in 1997.
Catalan squad: Blanch, Pryce, Taia, Bosc, Elima, Henderson, Casty, Menzies, Anderson, Mounis, Barthau, Pelissier, Larroyer, Millard, Pala, Simon, Bousquet, Fakir, Baitieri
Widnes squad: Ah Van, Allen, Briscoe, Clarke, Cross, Davies, Dean, Flynn, Gerrard, Gore, Hanbury, Isa, Joseph, Kavanagh, Leuluai, Mellor, O'Carroll, White, Winterstein
What they said...
Widnes head coach Denis Betts
"Catalan did a good job the week before, coming back against Wakefield, and they're a different animal at home than away," he told the Liverpool Echo.
"They'll be hurting on the back of not scoring a point against Wigan and getting beaten so convincingly.
"We're going into a tough group of games against very physical top-end sides, but you have to play everybody.
"At the moment I don't think there's anybody we feel we don't want to play or are afraid of playing."
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First Utility Super League Table
|5||Hull K R||0||0|
|7||Salford Red Devils||0||0|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th February|
|20:00||Widnes vs Wigan|
|Friday 6th February|
|20:00||St Helens vs Catalans Dragons|
|Saturday 7th February|
|15:00||Warrington vs Salford|
|Sunday 8th February|
|15:00||Huddersfield vs Hull|
|15:00||Hull K R vs Leeds|
|15:30||Castleford vs Wakefield|
|Thursday 12th February|
|20:00||Salford vs St Helens|
|Friday 13th February|
|20:00||Hull vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Widnes|
|20:00||Wigan vs Huddersfield|
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