LAST TIME OUT
Wakefield Trinity treated Belle Vue to a welcomed victory against Warrington after three straight losses. Liam Finn opened the scoring with a rudimentary penalty but Brad Dwyer soon replied with a try converted by Stefan Ratchford. However the Warrington momentum didn’t last long, with Bill Tupou crossing before back-to-back two pointers from Liam Finn to draw four points clear. Ben Jones-Bishop put the home side further ahead just before the break with a top draw finish and Wakefield went into the half time sheds with a 14-6 lead.
Kyle Wood strengthened Wakefield’s grip on the game with a score after the break, but Warrington were quick to reply with an effort of their own to nullify Wood’s score. It took a while before Wakefield broke the Warrington defence again, but when it came, it came through Mason Caton-Brown who continued his prolific try scoring this season and all but sealed the win for the home side in the closing stages. As the final hooter went, the score stood 26-12 in the favour of Wakefield, adding misery to what is a rather dour season for the Wolves.
Conversely, Castleford were tested in the latter parts of their Round 20 clash with Hull as they attempted to reverse the result of two weeks earlier. The Tigers went down early to a sublime piece of skill from Jake Connor and a resulting try from Mahe Fonua just 6 minutes in.
Castleford didn’t panic though, and added two points just two minutes later. Gale continued to get his side back into the game and followed up his kick with a poached try off the back of some poor ball control from Hull. He soon set up the next with an inch perfect kick finished off by Mike McMeeken with the help of some Hull errors. Zak Hardaker crossed soon after with a sublime solo effort to put the league leaders comfortably in the lead.
Being so far ahead, Castleford began to switch off and Hull replied through Fonua deep into the second half. Following that, a late double from Fetuli Talanoa put the black and whites within two points, but it proved to be to little with the black and whites losing 24-22 at the final buzzer. Castleford came out unscathed and will feel relieved after nearly grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory with a poor defensive performance in the second half.
Zak Hardaker is in the form of his life at the moment and has a massive impact with his running game for Castleford. In the past two games he has scored two great solo efforts – albeit one better than the other. They both came at key moments in the game; against Leeds, the tigers were only 2 points ahead and under pressure, and against Hull, Castleford repelled Hull for 23 consecutive tackles before Hardaker supplied a top class finish.
Similarly, Wakefield have two top class finishers in the form of Mason Caton-Brown and Ben Jones-Bishop. They both have raw pace and can finish from anywhere on the pitch, with both going long distances to score this season. While they might not create as much as Hardaker does, they punish mistakes dearly and have pounced on loose or inaccurate passes more than once this season. Either of these three can change a game for different reasons and it’ll be down to these outside backs to make the vital difference in definitive moments in the game.
While Wakefield are a much improved side this season, I can’t see them turning over the league leaders. Castleford have far too many points in them and are far too strong in defence to let Wakefield score enough to compete.
On the other hand, Wakefield have shocked us all season and have the talent to do so on a bad day for Castleford; no doubt they’ll also get some help from the Belle Vue crowd. However, I think this one is already sewn up with Castleford being too strong all over the park. Castleford by 12+
Wakefield (from): Annakin, Arona, Arundel, Ashurst, Caton-Brown, Crowther, England, Finn, Grix, Hadley, Hirst, Huby, Jones-Bishop, Sio, Tupou, Walker, Williams, Wood.
Castleford (from): Eden, Foster, Gale, Hardaker, Hitchcox, Lynch, Massey, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Minikin, Monaghan, Patrick, Roberts, Sene-Lefao, Shenton, Springer, Webster.