It’s time for the magic! The 2019 Magic Weekend is finally here; an event that every rugby league fan looks forward to on the sport’s calendar. This time it will see Trinity travel over to Liverpool, and face Catalans Dragons at the Anfield Stadium, for the spectacle opener.
Trinity head into this game on the back of a frustrating loss to London Broncos in the Capital. A late comeback for Trinity was not enough to overcome the Broncos’ dominance in the first half, and saw them lose out 42-34.
Catalans come into this game with a convincing 33-16 victory over Wigan Warriors over at Camp Nou last Saturday, and will be searching for their fourth consecutive win.
Both Trinity and the Dragons have met in the Magic Weekend before, where a stunning 50m drop-goal courtesy of Jacob Miller clinched the win for Trinity back in 2016, the final score being 25-24. With a new venue in 2019, the club will be hoping to see the Trinity faithful in numbers, filling the Kop Stand with red, white and blue!
Since the introduction of the Magic Weekend concept in 2007, Trinity have only managed to register four Magic wins. These include a 54-16 against Castleford in 2008 in Cardiff, a 2012 victory against the Tigers in 2012 at the Etihad Stadium, and two victories in Newcastle, against Catalans with the last-gasp drop goal, and Widnes, 34-12.
Last year, Trinity lost out in Newcastle 22-25 to Huddersfield Giants, and will be aiming to improve their Magic record this time round.
Trinity will be also aiming to restore their winning ways this Saturday, and Chris Chester has named a 19-man squad which sees Anthony England and Matty Ashurst listed, as they return from injury. New signing from the NRL Kelepi Tanginoa also features, and is set to make his debut on the Magic stage.
Opponents – The Dragons
The Dragons have claimed five Magic Weekend wins since it was first introduced, including a 26-12 victory over Salford Red Devils in 2018.
A 33-16 win in Nou Camp on Saturday saw the Dragons leapfrog Trinity into third place in the table, and the reigning Challenge Cup holders will be aiming for a fourth straight win.
Catalans may have had an inconsistent start to the season, and struggled to string successive wins together, but nevertheless, have managed to register nine wins in total.
Steve McNamara’s 19-man squad sees Matty Smith and Lambert Belmas return, and there are many names Trinity will be watching out for. These includes captain Rémi Casty, full-back Tony Gigot, as well as former Wigan stars Matty Smith and Lewis Tierney. Former Trinity player Mickael Simon is another one to watch, as well as his team-mates Fouad Yaha and Julian Bousquet.
Trinity last met with Catalans in February, beating the Dragons 22-12 in front of a home crowd. In 2018, the Super 8s saw Trinity win 34-22, again at home, and although they lost at home in July, 18-35, Trinity ensured they were victorious in Perpignan earlier on in the season however, edging it 14-16.
2017 saw bigger wins over the Dragons – a 38-18 win in France as well as a 30-10 victory at home in the same month. This ensured Trinity completed a league double over their opponents, as Catalans found themselves in the Million Pound Game that year.
Trinity (19-man squad) – Ashurst, Batchelor, Caton-Brown, England, Fifita, Hampshire, Hirst, Jones-Bishop, Jowitt, King, Kirmond, Kopczak, Lyne, Miller, Randell, Reynolds, Sa’u, Tanginoa, Wood.
Catalans Dragons (19-man squad) – Baitieri, Belmas, Bousquet, Casty, Da Costa, Edwards, Garcia, Gigot, Jullien, Kasiano, Langi, Mead, Moa, Simon, Smith, Tierney, Whitley, Wiliame, Yaha.
MATCH PREVIEW BY EMMA HOLLEY