Wigan Warriors travel down to Wakefield Trinity in what could be their final game of 2017. Wigan need either St Helens or Hull FC to lose their respective games tonight and tomorrow for them to stand a chance of making their way into next week’s play-offs.
LAST TIME OUT
Wakefield Trinity come into this game on the back of a morale shattering 19-18 defeat away to fellow top four rivals, Hull FC. This was a real tight affair throughout, as the game was on a knife-edge for the full 80-minutes. It was a huge encounter, one which had a big say on the top four, with just one week to go. It was Wakefield who got off to a dominant start, as Joe Arundel and Jacob Miller both went over to put Wakey into a 10-0 lead after 21 minutes. Hull hit back through Mahe Fonua before a Liam Finn penalty-goal sent Trinity 12-6 up at halftime. The second half points where mainly dominated by Hull, as tries from Marc Sneyd and Gareth Ellis put them 18-12 up with just over five minutes remaining. Then, Sneyd kicked a drop-goal to almost seal the deal, or so they thought. Mason Caton-Brown got one back for Trinity with minutes left, as they now trailed by one point. Liam Finn would then miss a last-gasp drop-goal as Hull FC ran out 19-18 winners, in dramatic fashion.
Wigan Warriors come into this game on the back of a disappointing 38-20 defeat at the hands of Castleford Tigers. It was a real frustrating afternoon for the Warriors, as they all but blew their top four chances, with a pitiful display – n their last home game of the season. They lost the first half 20-0, in which they conceded four tries, scored by Greg Eden and a sensational hat-trick from debutant, Jake Trueman. It was an unbelievable afternoon for the young 18-year-old sensation, who made the Wigan defence look silly. The second half didn’t get much better for Shaun Wane’s men, as a Greg Minikin try put the Tigers 26-0 up. Wigan mounted a little bit of a comeback with three tries in nine minutes through Tom Davies, Sam Tomkins and Thomas Leuluai to trail 26-16 with 15 minutes remaining. However, there was to be no fairy tale ending for Wigan, as a Michael Shenton try, followed by a Minikin second, was split by a Willie Isa effort, which finished the game, and all but ended Wigan’s 2017 season.
Scott Grix vs Sam Tomkins
These two will be looking to end their seasons on a bit of a high after recent weeks. Both have been on the wrong end of the attention after having poor games. Grix has had a bit of an up and down season, scoring eight and chipping in with 13 assists. As for Sam, he’s only featured for half of the year, scoring just five and getting seven assists. They’ll be key in this game for their side, and each side know of their threat.
Miller/Finn vs Williams/Leuluai
This is where you’d expect most of the points to come from on Saturday. Maybe not the finishes, but most certainly the set-ups. Both sets of halves have been solid enough this season, and for the likes of a George Williams, it could be a final chance to impress Wayne Bennett before the World Cup. I’m sure Liam Finn will be looking to make up for last week’s last-gasp, missed drop-goal against Hull FC.
I think this is where most of the fun will be on Saturday. Both sides have big, strong players who normally help their sides out down the middles. The likes of David Fifita, Danny Kirmond, Anthony England, Ryan Sutton, Frank-Paul Nuuausala and Tony Clubb will be well up to have a final say on the season. For the Wigan forwards, it could be a very important say if other results go their way.
There’s no knowing until Friday night if this is going to be a big game or not. Either way, I think Wigan win this game, but not with any ease. Wakefield will be looking to end on a high, and they’ve been great at home this year, it should be a good one.
Wigan Warriors by 8
Wakefield Trinity head coach Chris Chester:
“We’ve got Wigan at home and we want to finish the season on a high. We will be doing everything we can to make sure we do that.
“We will learn from these experiences over the last few weeks. We are a young group and we are pretty inexperienced, it is not all doom and gloom.
“We are all disappointed and we are hurting, but we’ve got to be proud of what we’ve achieved this season.”
Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane:
“Sunday was disappointing. Our goal-line defence was way off, Castleford’s was great. They held us up over the line six times.
“It’s not a great situation to be in. We’ve never been here before but we’ve just got to bite the bullet and get on with it.
“Wakefield play some really great rugby and really make you defend. They’ve a lot of underestimated players in their side.”
Trinity make two changes as Dean Hadley comes straight back into the squad after being suspended, he will be joined by Sam Williams. They replace James Hasson and Tyler Randell.
The Warriors make two changes as Sean O’Loughlin returns from a calf injury, Joe Bretherton also earns a recall. The pair replace Joe Burgess (hamstring) and Jack Wells.
Wakefield Trinity: Chris Annakin, Tinirau Arona, Joe Arundel, Matty Ashurst, Mason Caton-Brown, Anthony England, David Fifita, Liam Finn, Scott Grix, Dean Hadley, Keegan Hirst, Craig Huby, Ben Jones-Bishop, Danny Kirmond, Reece Lyne, Jacob Miller, Bill Tupou, Sam Williams and Kyle Wood.
Wigan Warriors: John Bateman, Joe Bretherton, Tony Clubb, Tom Davies, Liam Farrell, Anthony Gelling, Oliver Gildart, Willie Isa, Thomas Leuluai, Liam Marshall, Michael Mcilorum, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Powell, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Joel Tomkins, Sam Tomkins and George Williams.
Referee: Robert Hicks
Venue: The Beaumont Legal Stadium, Wakefield
Date/Time: Saturday 23rd September 2017 – 15:15pm BST