Kick-off: 1500, 25/08/2018
TV: BBC One
Catalans sprang a surprise when beating St Helens in the Challenge Cup semi-finals and can again upset the odds when taking on Warrington in Saturday’s Wembley decider.
The Dragons have been improving all year, as highlighted by last month’s 22-22 draw away to the Wolves in Super League, compared to March’s 26-0 mauling by the same team in France.
A recent 56-6 thrashing at Halliwell Jones Stadium can be excused and will have little bearing on this clash as Steve McNamara made wholesale changes for that Super 8s contest.
McNamara’s men are almost back at full strength here and look well capable of becoming the first non-British winners in the 121-year history of rugby league’s famous knockout competition.
We reckon the underdogs are great value at 9/5 to prevail in normal time and that is the first of our Challenge Cup final betting tips.
A Look At Catalan Dragons’ Betting Odds
Catalans served notice of their desire to go all the way to Wembley for only the second time when beating an in-form Huddersfield outfit 20-6 away from home in the quarter-finals.
The Dragons then roared to a 35-16 triumph over Saints in the first of two semis held at Bolton Wanderers’ stadium, playing some superb rugby from the outset as they raced into a 27-0 lead.
Mid-season moves for Australian half-back Josh Drinkwater and Kiwi forward Kenny Edwards have really given Catalans a lift.
They only suffered two close losses to Huddersfield and Wigan in their last 10 Super League regular-season outings before resting players in the Super 8s to focus on this clash.
Looking at the Challenge Cup final odds, we’re hoping the Dragons replicate that fast start in the semis and like 11/10 for them to score the opening try, with winger Fouad Yaha fancied at 11/1 to touch down first in the individual market.
A Look At Warrington Wolves’ Betting Odds
Warrington have history on their side as they will be seeking to lift this trophy for the ninth time, having prevailed three times in four years between 2009 and 2012.
The Wolves also reached the final two years ago when going down narrowly to Hull, so they do have plenty of pedigree.
Steve Price’s side were impressive when crushing Wigan 23-0 at the last-eight stage and brushed aside Leeds 48-12 in the semis, so they must be respected.
Classy half-backs Kevin Brown and Tyrone Roberts run the show and provide a good springboard for some big forwards and powerful backs.
However, we feel the Dragons can match them up front and that could turn this contest into an arm-wrestle and a war of attrition.
That would suit the French side, so 4/5 for Catalans with 6.5 points start on the handicap list completes our Challenge Cup final predictions.
St Helens 16-35 CATALANS
WARRINGTON 48-12 Leeds
Head-to-head: Warrington 56-6 Catalans, Warrington 22-22 Catalans, Catalans 0-26 Warrington
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