Castleford Tigers and Widnes Vikings had contrasting starts to the 2018 Betfred Super League season. The two sides meet in the final game of the second round of fixtures.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
It was a bitterly disappointing start to the 2018 season for Daryl Powell’s Castleford Tigers. In front of the Sky cameras they capitulated away to St Helens in a 46-6 hammering. A Paul McShane try, converted by Luke Gale, was the only positive on an poor evening for last year’s Super League runners-up.
In stark contrast, Widnes Vikings romped home to an impressive round one triumph over Catalans Dragons. Denis Betts watched on as his side came up with a barn-storming second half performance, winning 40-12. Chris Dean was the star man, with a two tries and an assist, as Krisnan Inu also scored against his former club.
There are just two forced changes to the Tigers side, as Joe Wardle (hamstring) and Jake Trueman (concussion) miss out. Alex Foster and Jy Hitchcock come into the 19-man-squad.
Tigers squad: Cook, Eden, Ellis, Foster, Gale, Green, Hitchcox, Holmes, Massey, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Minikin, Moors, Roberts, Sene-Lefao, Shenton, Webster
Patrick Ah Van misses out due to injury, as the winger broke his arm in the Catalans win before playing on and scoring a try. Ed Chamberlain also misses out, with Danny Walker coming in and Olly Ashall-Bott set for his debut.
Vikings squad: Wellington, Ashall-Bott, Burke, Cahill, J.Chapelhow, Dean, Gilmore, Hanbury, Heremaia, Houston, Inu, Marsh, Mellor, Olbison, Runciman, D.Walker, White, Whitley, Wilde.
Widnes Vikings will have to be wary of being on the wrong end of a backlash, as they travel to Castleford Tigers on Sunday. Their home form was part of the reason why they reached the Super League Grand Final last season, and Powell’s men will be looking to make a statement in their first home game of the year.
With that being said, Widnes almost pulled off a shock win on their last visit to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle. A young, injury hit side were unlucky to come away without the two points. Their 22-10 lead slipped to a 32-22 defeat, as Greg Eden’s hat-trick inspired the home side to victory. The Tigers winger also grabbed a brace in the earlier meeting of the two sides, as they eased to a 34-0 win at the Select Security Stadium.
The hosts will be hoping for a repeat of their performances against the Vikings in 2017, and will be looking to Luke Gale for inspiration. He had a tough World Cup with England, and couldn’t influence the game against Saints last week. He may be reunited with Ben Roberts in the halves this week which could help improve the side, as he struggled at fullback last time out.
Widnes will also be hoping for a big game from Joe Mellor, as he was in brilliant form against Catalans. He took high-shot after high-shot, before picking himself up to pull the strings for Widnes. When he is at the height of his powers, the club captain is a massive danger to defences.
Castleford have won their last three meetings with the Vikings, with their last defeat in this fixture coming in June 2016.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday 11th February
Venue: Mend-A-Hose Jungle
Referee: Chris Kendall
WHO WILL WIN?