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Rugby League: Cracking Catalan a handicap must-back at St Helens

| 02.10.2014

French invaders Catalan Dragons were cut from 18/1 to 10/1 for a first Rugby League Grand Final win over the weekend, after seeing off a second Yorkshire behemoth on the spin vaulted them into a play-off semi-final showdown with St Helens.   

Catalan grabbed underdog victories at Leeds and Huddersfield in their last two fixtures, with the surprise package of the play-offs now set for a Langtree Park showdown against Saints’ table-topping egg chasers.

Ladbrokes.com price the clash at 2/7 Saints and 5/2 Dragons, with the visitors given 10 points on the handicap at 10/11.

Taking the latter wager ranks a no-brainer in the north west, and there are a couple of compelling reasons to get behind Bernard Guasch’s men to claim outright victory over the five-time Super League champions.

First and foremost, the last time these sides met Catalan put 42 points on St Helens without reply in the Pyrenees.

That result came just three months ago. Since then, Guasch’s side – who finished seven places behind St Helens in Super League, prior to the playoffs – have won eight of their 14 matches, including each of the last five.

Of the mere three away losses Catalan have suffered since early May, two have been avenged at the business end of the season against the aforementioned Yorkshire clubs.

This doesn’t bode particularly well for Saints, who beat their next opponents 40-22 at home in March.

Nathan Brown’s 11/4 outright second-favourites for the title, behind 5/6 jollies and defending champions Wigan, may have flattened Castleford Tigers 41-0 in their only other play-off outing this year, but their recent form is not special.

Two losses, one of which was by 27 points at home to Warrington Wolves, and an ultra-narrow win at Leeds marked the end of Saints’ regular season, which suggests Catalan have every chance of reaching their first Super League showpiece courtesy of yet another upset.

They’re dreaming of Grand Final day at Old Trafford on the Franco-Spanish border, and profiting courtesy of a punt on Dragons +10 at 10/11 makes perfect sense.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune