PREVIEW: Widnes Vikings v Wakefield Trinity.
12th meets 6th in the opening game of the Magic Weekend at St James’ Park in Newcastle. Wakefield find themselves comfortably mid-table after a below par season in 2016, whilst Widnes sit bottom having won just 2 games from 13 this year. Rangi Chase could be set to play his first game for Widnes after transferring from Castleford .
Last Time Out
On paper Widnes have the better form of recent weeks, although the table tells a completely different story.
The Chemics got a hugely important win over St Helens two weeks ago, but have failed to back that up. They lost heavily to Leeds two weeks ago and also failed to get the better of Warrington last week. Widnes will wear their Bobby Robson Foundation charity shirt on the day, and maybe the change of shirt will be the magic factor for them to get the win needed to take them off the foot of the table.
Wakefield registered a good string of wins before losing their last three on the trot to Wigan, Warrington and leaders Castleford. Wakefield have picked themselves up after a few disappointing seasons and look to be in a better frame as a team this year.
It will be a test for the full backs, in a stadium that can hold over 50,000 the pitch will feel 10 times bigger so it is a great opportunity to use the air and the wings. It opens plenty of space for the likes of Caton-Brown and Runciman to pace the wings but it also welcomes high testing balls, which Grix and Hanbury will have to be wary of.
Widnes will be hungry to get a much needed win, particularly in such a large venue with the preying eyes of opposition fans watching them. Wakefield will also be looking to put a stop to their current dip in form, so it should be an exciting opening to the weekend.
I think the occasion will be the lift that Widnes need, they went well against Warrington in the Challenge Cup last weekend and showed some real threats at times, particular through their younger members.
I’ve got to back the underdogs this time. Widnes by 12
Widnes Vikings: 10. Jack Buchanan, 18. Greg Burke, 13. Hep Cahill, 27. Ed Chamberlain, 23. Jay Chapelhow, 40. Rangi Chase, 15. Gil Dudson, 16. Alex Gerrard, 1. Rhys Hanbury, 33. Aaron Heremaia, 11. Chris Houston, 28. Ryan Ince, 21. Jack Johnson, 31. Jordan Johnstone, 20. Manase Manuokafoa, 8. Eamon O’Carroll, 4. Charly Runciman, 9. Lloyd White, 39. Sam Wilde
Wakefield Trinity: 16. Arona, 18. Arundel, 11. Ashurst, 27. Batchelor, 24. Caton-Brown, 8. England, 20. Fifita, 7. Finn, 1. Grix, 23. Hirst, 17. Huby, 5. Jones-Bishop, 12. Kirmond, 4. Lyne, 6. Miller, 13. Sio, 3. B Tupou, 14. Williams, 9. Wood
Venue: St James’ Park, Newcastle
Kick Off: 14:30pm GMT
Referee: C Kendall
Video Referee: P Bentham