Warrington Wolves entertain local rivals Widnes Vikings at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Thursday as both sides prepare for the Qualifiers. The hosts welcome back former Viking Kevin Brown from injury and will want to finish the regular season strongly, while Widnes will look to avoid finishing bottom by securing a victory as Leigh, who currently prop up the table, travel to Salford.

Last Time Out

Warrington defeated Wigan at the DW Stadium in the hope of securing a top eight spot last Thursday but their 10-16 win was not enough as Huddersfield claimed the last Super Eights spot with their victory against Leigh. Forward Ben Currie scored on his return from a knee injury he picked up in September to give the visitors the lead as Stefan Ratchford’s two goals sealed the win.

Meanwhile, Widnes failed to score in the second half as they went down 8-36 to Wakefield in round 22. Half-back Joe Mellor looked the biggest threat for the Vikings and scored his side’s only try of the game, while Wakefield winger Mason Caton-Brown took advantage of a poor performance from the hosts to claim a brace of tries – his first straight from a scrum and his second straight from a restart.

Key Battles

Wolves half-back Kevin Brown is set to make his first appearance since his side’s loss to Huddersfield in June after recovering from injury. Brown was the star of the Challenge Cup tie between the sides in May as he tallied a hat-trick in a fantastic performance. Forward Currie will also feature as he looks to improve his side’s form heading into the Middle Eights.

Widnes are without Rangi Chase but add eight players who were absent in the squad that were beaten by Wakefield. Centre Tom Armstrong returns to the side while winger Ed Chamberlain is also included alongside forward Tom Olbison, who recently signed a one-year extension with the club.

Prediction

Tony Smith’s Wolves have the stronger squad for Thursday’s tie and will cement their position with four home games to look forward to after the Super Eights split. Denis Betts’ side are just one point ahead of bottom club Leigh, who visit the Red Devils in their final game. Widnes may strive to do all they can to avoid placing 12th but their efforts won’t be enough to get past their rivals.  Warrington by 22.

Squads

Warrington Wolves: Atkins, Brown, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Dwyer, Hiku, Hill, Hughes, Jullien, King, Lineham, Patton, Philbin, Ratchford, Russell, Savelio, Sims, Smith.

Widnes Vikings: Armstrong, Brand, Buchanan, Burke, Cahill, Chamberlain, Chapelhow, Dudson, Gerrard, Johnstone, Manuokafoa, Marsh, Mellor, Olbison, Runciman, Thompson, B Walker, D Walker, Whitley.