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Challenge Cup final: Dragons too strong for Wolves

Catalans Dragons are 39/20 to win a maiden Challenge Cup.

The French side upset the odds by thrashing rampant Super League leaders St Helens to set up a final with Warrington Wolves at Wembley on Saturday.

The Dragons thrived on their underdog tag at the Macron Stadium earlier this month, producing the best performance of coach Steve McNamara's reign to stun Saints.

Catalans raced into a 27-0 half-time lead and, despite Saints briefly threatening a comeback, secured an impressive 35-16 victory which showed they have what it takes to go all the way this year.

With qualification for the Super League play-off semi-finals realistically out of the equation, the 2007 runners-up have put all their eggs in one basket to focus on the final.

Their league form has suffered as a result, losing their last two games and conceding 91 points in the process after McNamara made changes to his team.

One of those defeats came at the hands of their final opponents Warrington, who hammered the Dragons 56-6 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium just 10 days ago.

Warrington beat Leeds Rhinos 48-12 in their semi-final but lost 28-18 at Castleford Tigers last Friday.

Former England coach McNamara has vowed the Dragons will be ready for the showpiece in the capital.

"It's about winning the final for us, as simple as that," he said following the 35-6 home loss to Wigan.

"Nothing else matters, although I would have liked to have played a bit better but you can see when a team is completely distracted and we've been distracted all week.

"I've no issues with it whatsoever, with the schedule we've had and what we've had to do to get ourselves ready for the final. This is the best route for us.

"Next week will be our fourth visit to England in five weeks so there's been lots of things to organise and sort in the last couple of weeks to make sure we're physically and mentally fresh and ready to play next week.

"Without doubt, we'll be ready to play."

For Catalans to win they will need a fast start, just like the one they produced against Saints, and the Dragons to be winning at half-time and full-time is 13/5.

That is likely to mean there will be more points in the first half than the second, which is priced at 21/20.

Stuart Walker
@BetStars in Rugby League