Huddersfield Giants host Widnes Vikings on Friday evening at the John Smith’s Stadium in what is a vital game for both sides if they are to avoid the Qualifers.
Both sides are coming into the fixture off the back of disappointing defeats and will be looking to rectify the wrongs of recent weeks with two points. Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the clash.
The Giants have made three changes to the Giants 19 man squad from the side that were defeated 38-4 by Warrington Wolves.
Aaron Murphy, Oliver Roberts and Jared Simpson drop out, making way for Matty English and academy duo Oliver Russell and Jake Wardle.
Russell and Wardle are in line to make their first team debuts in the halves and at centre respectfully as the injuries continue to mount for the Yorkshire club.
Aaron Murphy became the latest to have an extended spell on the sidelines, joining long term absentees Jermaine McGillvary, Dale Ferguson and club captain Leroy Cudjoe.
Huddersfield Giants 19-man squad: Mamo, Turner, Gaskell, Ikahihifo, Leeming, Lawrence, Hinchcliffe, Rankin, Ta’ai, Clough, Smith, O’Brian, Mellor, McIntosh, Dickinson, Wood, English, Wardle, Russell.
Likewise, Denis Betts has made three changes to his 19 man squad and is boosted by the return of experienced hooker Aaron Heremaia, Wellington Albert and Charley Runciman.
Youngsters Ted Chapelhow, Owen Farnworth and Ed Chamberlain miss out for Friday’s clash.
The Vikings head into this crucial fixture on the back of two home league defeats against Hull FC and Wigan Warriors were they can count themselves unfortunate not to come away with any points after leading for periods of each game.
Widnes Vikings 19-man squad: Hanbury, Runciman, Ah Van, Gilmore, White, Gerrard, Whitley, Cahill, Craven, Olbison, Wilde, Burke, Leuluai, Johnstone, Ince, Chapelhow, Heremaia, Wellington, Keinhorst.
HEAD TO HEAD
Huddersfield took home the two points on offer when these sides met in March at the Select Security Stadium with the Giants prevailing 28 – 16 thanks to a kicking masterclass from half-back Danny Brough in wet conditions.
That win extended the Yorkshire clubs winning run over Widnes to three matches with the Vikings last win against Friday’s opponents coming all the way back in May 2016 with a narrow 24 – 20 win on home soil.
Both sides will be looking for a win in what is the proverbial four pointer as the Giants look to move off the foot of the table and Widnes look to cut the gap on 8th placed Salford to two points.
KEY BATTLE – Jake Mamo v Rhys Hanbury
The two Australian full backs are vital cogs in the machine for how both sides play with their attacking flair but neither have lit up Super League in 2018 due to injuries for Mamo and a loss of form for Hanbury.
This will be Mamo’s second game back from injury but he and Huddersfield can’t afford for him to play himself into form, he needs to be hitting his strides from the off.
For Hanbury, there were glimpses of his attacking flair in the Wigan defeat but there are still question marks over his defensive capabilities and his nerve under the high ball.
If there was a game to sparkle, however, it would be this one as both sides look to avoid the Qualifier’s and a relegation scrap. The two points on the evening could be the difference from 8th and 9th come the season’s end.
Both sets of fans will be hoping their Aussies can find the spark that can propel their side to that all important win.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 4th May 2018
Venue: The John Smith’s Stadium
Referee: Liam Moore
WHO WILL WIN?