LIMOUX Grizzlies will need to limit the playmaking genius of French international Stanislas Robin if they are to win the club’s fourth Lord Derby Cup.
Lezignan Sangliers trio Charles Bouzinac, Valentin Ferret and Simon Grandjean identified St Esteve XIII Catalans Dragons five-eighth Robin as the key man for the Dragons.
Robin was earlier in the week left out of Catalans Dragons coach Laurent Frayssinous’ 19-man squad for tonight’s match against St Helens, paving the way for him to turn out in the Cup final.
Bouzinac, Ferret and Grandjean, who featured in their club’s 2015 Lord Derby Cup winning team, in which they snatched a 27-25 win from the grasps of St Esteve XIII Catalans, believed the Dragons would etch their name onto the Lord Derby Cup for a fourteenth time.
They cited Limoux’s injured playing group, and the professional setup the Dragons players are exposed to as the reasons why St Esteve would finish on top on Saturday afternoon at Carcassonne’s Stade Albert Domec.
“St Esteve will start as favourites,” Bouzinac said.
“The players who are in the Catalans Dragons squad will without doubt give them an advantage.
“Limoux have a number of players who are injured or suspended so that will work against them.”
Bouzinac believed if the Catalans’ big forwards could lay the platform Robin and co. could exploit Limoux’s defence.
“St Esteve trio Stan Robin, Morgan Escare and Rémy Marginet are the playmakers in the team,” Bouzinac said.
“They rely on players like Anthony Maria, Romain Navarette and Thibault Margalet to lift the speed of the match and then play off the back of them. “
Ferret and Grandjean echoed his thoughts.
“The halves for UTC are going to play an important role in attack and it will be Stan Robin who will be responsible for constructing most of their attacking raids,” Ferret said.
Grandjean added: “St Esteve have players who are part of the Catalans Dragons squad and have a little more experience.
“For St Esteve the key players are the two halves and their fullback.”
The trio haven’t completely ruled out Limoux with the likes of lock Mickaël Rouch, big men Sebastien Martins, Paul Ivan and Sione Masima powering their side forward, and paving the way for halfback Mickael Murcia and fullback Amine Miloudi to weave their magic.
“Limoux has a tough, physical forward pack who gain plenty of metres around the ruck and benefit from the experience of their halfback Mickael Murcia,” Grandjean said.
Ferret believed if Limoux’s forward pack were at their devastating best they could come away with the desired result.
“Limoux’s forward pack will need to be firing if they are to win,” he said.
“Limoux rely on their forwards to dominate in defence, and in attack they like to play around the ruck off the back of quick play the balls.”
“For Limoux, the work of centre Pat Mataele and lock Mickaël Rouch will help get their sets off to a good start and put St Esteve on the back foot,” Bouzinac said.
“Their work will create space for fullback Amine Miloudi who has the skill and speed to make the most of his opportunities.”
Lord Derby Cup predictions
- Charles Bouzinac: St Esteve 36-24 Limoux
- Valentin Ferret: St Esteve 28-12 Limoux
- Simon Grandjean: St Esteve 28-20 Limoux