WET weather forecast for Saturday’s FFR XIII Lord Derby Cup final will work in Limoux Grizzlies’ favour, says Lezignan Sangliers assistant coach Tony Duggan.
The Grizzlies tackle 2014-15 finalists St Esteve UTC Dragons in the 2015-16 Lord Derby Cup final at Stade Domec, Carcassonne on Saturday afternoon.
Duggan, who helped steer Lezignan to the 2014-15 Lord Derby Cup last season, said the Grizzlies’ big forward pack and their style of play was better suited to a wet track.
Duggan has tipped the Dragons to claim their 14th victory in the Cup’s 72-year history while Limoux have a chance to win their third in 10 attempts.
Limoux and St Esteve are the two form clubs in the competition and little separates them in 2016.
They fought out a 36-36 draw the last time they met while St Esteve won the first match of the season between the two clubs 30-18.
Duggan isn’t expecting much different on Saturday, predicting a 24-18 win to St Esteve – if the wet weather stays away.
“If it rains the Limoux game plan of playing tight in around the ruck and their bigger, more physical forward pack could be the deciding factor and enough to get them home,” he said.
Local forecasts suggest some showers in the lead up to the match on Saturday afternoon, but Duggan is hoping for a dry track to allow St Esteve fullback Morgan Escare the opportunity to show his wares.
“He has found form again this year and went well in the two games he recently played for the Catalan Dragons,” Duggan said.
“He will have only grown in confidence again after that and will have a point to prove after being dropped back to reserve grade.
“On his day he’s a class above and I hope they get a dry track so we can see him at his best.”
Duggan said it was both club’s ability to play to their strengths that saw them find success in 2016.
The likes of forward enforcers Sebastien Martins, Sione Masima, Paul Ivan, Paul Barbaza and Mickaël Rouch has allowed Limoux’s dummy halves and halfback Mickael Murcia time to create opportunities for their outside backs.
St Esteve’s exposure to a professional system at the Catalans Dragons has ensured their players are equipped with the skills to create and exploit opportunities when they are presented.
“The things that has struck me most about the two teams is that they have game plans perfectly suited to their squads’ strengths,” Duggan said.
“UTC, being a young, fast squad in a professional system have great shape, vision and execution.
“They are very good at creating opportunities for themselves and if the defence makes a mistake they have the skills and speed to take advantage of it straight away.
“Limoux have a bigger, stronger squad and their game plan reflects that.
“They play simple, mistake-free footy especially coming out of their own half and it is extremely effective.
“They grind teams down and wait for them to fatigue and make mistakes under pressure. It’s a great game plan for a final played in wet conditions against a younger, less experienced team and should keep them right in the game.”
Lord Derby Cup predictions
Tony Duggan: St Esteve 24 Limoux Grizzlies 18