Widnes Vikings host Wakefield Trinity on Friday with the away side looking to make it a hat-trick of wins over the Vikings in 2017 and push for a top-four spot. Widnes’ place in the Qualifiers is confirmed and Denis Betts’ men will want to enter the Middle Eights in good form.
Last Time Out
Widnes were humiliated by Huddersfield in round 20 as the Vikings lost 40-0 at the John Smith’s Stadium – it was the second time Widnes have failed to register a single point in a game this season after doing so against Castleford in round four in March. For the hosts, who scored seven tries in total, winger Jermaine McGillvary tallied a brace while Darnell McIntosh added one of his own as Martyn Ridyard converted six efforts.
Wakefield had victory snatched away from them last Thursday as they went down 24-25 to runaway leaders Castleford at the Beaumont Legal Stadium. Trinity were 16-0 in front at half-time and managed to shake off a steeled second-half Castleford comeback to lead 24-18, but Tigers centre Jake Webster equalised before Luke Gale slotted a drop-goal with a minute left to extend his side’s lead at the top.
Wakefield’s Ben Jones-Bishop and Kyle Wood have both scored in each of Trinity’s last two and the pair could make it three in three as the visitors push for a top-four spot. Despite Wakefield in a good position to chase the top four, Chris Chester’s side have only won one of the last five – their victory over Warrington at the start of July ended a run of three straight defeats before their loss to Castleford last time out.
Widnes recently announced the permanent signing of Rangi Chase on a two-year contract, which will galvanise the rest of the squad as they prepare for the Qualifiers. Chase returns against Wakefield after missing out on the Vikings’ last two fixtures – defeats to the Giants and Wigan – through suspension. His impact elsewhere is clear – with the 31-year-old in the side, the Vikings have defeated Leeds, Catalans and Leigh.
With Chase set to re-partner Joe Mellor in the halves, Widnes could give Wakefield a stern test at the Select Security Stadium. Trinity’s one-point defeat to Cas will give them confidence as they look to build on the recent victory over Warrington. Wakefield by 8.
Widnes Vikings: Thompson, Bridge, Runciman, Mellor, O’Carroll, Buchanan, Houston, Whitley, Cahill, Dudson, Marsh, Burke, Manuokafoa, Olbison, Ince, Johnstone, Heremaia, Brand, Chase.
Wakefield Trinity: Annakin, Arona, Arundel, Ashurst, Caton-Brown, England, Fifita, Finn, Grix, Hadley, Hirst, Huby, Jones-Bishop, Jowitt, Kirmond, Tupou, Walker, Williams, Wood.