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Super League: Salford Red Devils v Catalan Dragons preview
Catalan Dragons will aim to consolidate their place in the Super League playoffs when they travel to face Salford Red Devils on Friday evening.
Laurent Frayssinous’ Dragons find themselves well-poised in seventh, but a top-eight finish is not guaranteed with four rounds of regular-season action remaining.
Widnes Vikings – level on points with the Dragons – currently occupy the final playoff spot, but Hull KR stand only three points adrift with 10th-placed Wakefield Wildcats a further point behind.
The Dragons have endured a difficult patch of late though, winning just three of their last five Super League outings and they will be desperate to return to winning ways following successive defeats.
Similarly, back-to-back league defeats means Salford hold little more than an outside chance of a playoff berth, with six points and four teams between them and the all-important eighth place.
But with eight points still on offer to the end of the season, Salford coach Iestyn Harris is eager to see his side finish with a flourish.
“Finishing with a total of 25 points is now the target, and should this be sufficient, dependent upon other results, to move into the top eight, all well and good,” ” he told the club’s official website.
“If not, then there will be some satisfaction in ending the season with a bang and so going into the close season with that momentum.”
Salford have won their last two home meetings with Catalans, with the Dragons’ last away win against the Red Devils coming with a 44 - 18 win back in September 2011.
Ahead of the trip to the AJ Bell Stadium, Dragons head coach Frayssinous has made three changes to his squad.
Vincent Duport makes a welcome return from suspension while Olivier Elima and Ben Garcia, who have recovered from injury, are also in line to make their returns.
The pivotal trio come into the travelling party at the expense of Lopini Paea, Mickael Simon and Antoni Maria.
Meanwhile, Salford are boosted by the inclusion of New Zealand full-back Kevin Locke after a series hampered the start to his Super League career.
Despite being named in Harris’ 19-man squad for the trip to Wigan - a game Salford lost 45-4 - two weeks ago, Locke failed to make the matchday 17 but could be in line for a return to action on Friday.
Salford squad: Fages, Rapira, Evalds, Sa'u, Johnson, Tasi, Chase, J. Walne, Walton, Locke, Lee, Caton-Brown, Ashurst, Puletua, Hansen, Morley, J. Griffin, Tomkins, Dixon
Catalan squad: Escare, Pryce, Pomeroy, Oldfield, Bosc, Elima, Henderson, Lima, Taia, Anderson, Mounis, Pelissier, Whitehead, Millard, Bousquet, Baitieri, Duport, Garcia, Williams
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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