Widnes Vikings welcome Huddersfield Giants to the Select Security Stadium on Friday night in the 5th round of the Betfred Super League season.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Denis Betts’ side return home following a second-half collapse away to Wigan Warriors last week which saw them throw away a 16-0 lead. The Vikings eventually fell to a 32-16 defeat, without posting a single point after half-time. Matt Whitley and Stefan Marsh scored for the visitors, while Tom Gilmore kicked four goals.
The Giants go into this game after back-to-back defeats, with the latest coming away to high-flyers Wakefield Trinity. Rick Stone’s men were beaten 22-4 with Lee Gaskell scoring their only points of the game, following up a 26-12 loss to St Helens a week earlier,.
Widnes make four changes to the squad which lost to Wigan, as Jay Chapelhow returns in place of brother Ted. Chris Dean is back from injury, while Chris Houston has served his two match ban for coming into contact with Phil Bentham. Jordan Johnstone is back from a one-month loan at London Broncos, as Alex Gerrard, MacGraff Leuluai and Danny Walker are replaced.
Vikings 19-man squad: Greg Burke, Hep Cahill, Ed Chamberlain, Jay Chapelhow, Danny Craven, Chris Dean, Tom Gilmore, Rhys Hanbury, Aaron Heremaia, Chris Houston, Krisnan Inu, Jordan Johnstone, Stefan Marsh, Joe Mellor, Tom Olbison, Charly Runciman, Wellington Albert, Matt Whitley, Sam Wilde
Huddersfield have made three changes to the squad that was beaten by Wakefield, as Daniel Smith, Jordan Turner and Tom Symonds drop out. They are replace by Michael Lawrence and Alex Mellor who return from injury, along with Tyler Dickinson.
Giants 19-man squad: Jake Mamo, Jermaine McGilvary, Aaron Murphy, Lee Gaskell, Danny Brough, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Kruise Leeming, Michael Lawrence, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Dale Ferguson, Jordan Rankin, Oliver Roberts, Ukuma Ta’ai, Paul Clough, Adam O’Brien, Alex Mellor, Darnell McIntosh, Tyler Dickinson, Sam Wood
At the start of the season, both of these sides will have pinpointed games like this as a ‘must win’ if they are to reach their 2018 objectives. Both Widnes and Huddersfield will be aiming to avoid the bottom four and secure their top flight status for another season.
Looking at the early league standings, the Vikings seem to be well on course to achieve a top eight finish, however only two points separate them from the Giants who are sitting second bottom.
Denis Betts’ men have earned a lot of praise for the way they have tackled a challenging start to their campaign, coming up with victories over Catalans Dragons and reigning Champions Leeds Rhinos. Those victories will mean significantly less if they can’t pick up wins against the teams around them, and if they really are going to be a side that stays clear of the Million Pound Game then picking up two points will be the only acceptable outcome on Friday.
Huddersfield have played a game less than their opponents due to finishing in the top eight last season, and despite their low league position two of their three defeats so far in 2018 have come against the competition’s only unbeaten sides. If they are to replicate their final league position last year, then picking up a win away to the Vikings will go a long way to helping them do just that.
Krisnan Inu currently sits at the top of the try scoring charts and has been one of the signings of the season. Widnes sorely missed his strike out wide away to Wigan, as he was sidelined with an illness. He has sparked a great combination with Tom Gilmore, who seems to be able to find the centre effortlessly with the boot. Those two players will be key if Widnes are to come out on top.
Danny Brough is the obvious threat for the visitors, and the more space he is allowed the more effective he will be. If he is given the opportunity to dictate the game with the boot, it could be a long evening for the Vikings. Jermaine McGilvary has enjoyed some success out wide in this fixture, and the England international will be out to continue his try scoring run.
Huddersfield Giants winger Jermaine McGilvary has scored in each of the last three meetings with Widnes Vikings, with five tries to his name during that period.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 9th March
Venue: Select Security Stadium
Referee: Ben Thaler
WHO WILL WIN?