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The Qualifiers Round 1 – Salford Red Devils v Wakefield Trinity Wildcats Preview

The only all Super League tie of the round and a perfect time to make a strong statement to the other teams in the Qualifiers. Salford could hand out debuts to deadline day signings Reni Maitua and Iain Thornley in this game. Both sides lost their last match of the regular Super League season with Salford going down by one point to Widnes Vikings while Huddersfield got the better of Wakefield at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Last Time Out

Salford Red Devils took on Widnes Vikings at the Select Security Stadium. The Red Devils, coached by Ian Watson, lost 21-20 thanks to a Danny Craven drop-goal in the final minute of play. Niall Evalds and Chris Clarkson swapped scores for both sides before Salford regained the lead through Cory Paterson. The visitors held a 12-6 lead at the break and that was extended in the opening minutes of the second half through Josh Griffin who added two points from the boot. Paddy Flynn got a try back for Widnes as they kept the chase on for the lead but Scott Taylor hustled his way over the line to restore a healthy ten point advantage for the Red Devils. But, a try each for Stefan Marsh and Aaron Heremaia levelled matters before Danny Craven slotted over the winning drop-goal with seconds left of the match.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats were on the losing end of a 34-24 scoreline against Huddersfield Giants. Jacob Miller opened the scoring for Wakefield on six minutes but it didn’t take long for the Giants to respond and Luke Robinson touched down for the hosts. Jodie Broughton and Michael Lawrence both added four pointers for Huddersfield before Scott Anderson replied for a Wakefield side who have shown some fighting spirit under Brian Smith since he took over. Tries for Daniel Smith and Leroy Cudjoe meant the Giants ended the half on a high, they were 28-12 to the good after the first 40 minutes. Ten minutes into the second half and Huddersfield’s lead was cut by eight as two unconverted Wakefield tries had closed the gap. Matty Ashurst and Lee Smith did the damage for Super League’s bottom side. It took until the 65th minute for the next score to arrive and it went to Danny Brough of Huddersfield. He converted his own try to make it a three score game at 34-20 but Reece Lyne managed to keep Wakefield in with a chance on 71 minutes when he crossed the whitewash but, unfortunately for the visitors, no more points were to be scored and another defeat was recorded for the side from the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.

Key Battle

With Reni Maitua arriving at the AJ Bell Stadium from Featherstone Rovers of the Kingstone Press Championship, the Red Devils back-row has been strengthened further and now looks a very dominant prospect. Other back-rowers in the Salford squad include former Wigan Warrior Harrison Hansen as well as Cory Paterson who has filled in at half-back in the past. The back-row of Red Devils will face a fierce Wildcats pack featuring ex Salford man Matty Ashurst and Danny Washbrook. Who will get the upper hand in the midfield during this Qualifiers contest?

Prediction

Wakefield have been preparing for the Qualifiers for quite some time now so they’ve got to get things right from the off if they want to give themselves the best opportunity to retain their Super League status. A trip to Salford isn’t the easiest of starts for them but it’d be a very good place to answer their critics in the best way possible, with a win. Salford will be wanting to keep their home form in order during this seven-game series, a victory against Wakefield would be a steady start and they will work from there as they look to stay in Super League for 2016 – Salford by 6

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