Both Wakefield Trinity and Castleford Tigers have struggled for form in recent matches, with both side’s play-off chances taking a blow. The two sides played out a thriller at The Mend-a-Hose Jungle back in April and victory for either side on Friday is a necessity in the race for a top-five finish. Here’s everything you need to know.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Wakefield were beaten emphatically by out of sorts Catalans Dragons in their last fixture, suffering a 44-10 defeat in Perpignan. Despite winning their last home fixture against Huddersfield Giants, prior to that victory, Trinity suffered six consecutive defeats in all competitions. This drop-off in form has seen them slip to eighth in the table, with the Dreadnoughts now as far away from the play-off’s as they are to the bottom of the table. Sitting two points behind the Tigers in the table, a win could move Trinity as high as sixth who know a defeat could all but end their play-off hopes.
Castleford disappointingly lost 18-10 at home to rivals Leeds Rhinos last time out and seemed to lack their usual fluidity and creativity that has seen them compete at the top of the table in recent seasons. They’ve endured mixed form of late, securing home wins against London Broncos and Huddersfield but have struggled on the road, losing their seven of their last eight Super League fixtures away from home. The Tigers are in sixth-place in the table, just outside the play-offs, and two points clear of Wakefield, and could move up to fourth with a victory,
Chris Chester has made two changes to his 19-man squad from last week’s humbling defeat in France.
Youngsters James Batchelor and Max Jowitt return to the squad, with both players returning from long-term injuries whilst Mason Caton-Brown is also back in contention.
A big blow for Wakefield however, is the loss of prop David Fifita who has been ruled out with a foot injury.
Wakefield’s 19-man squad: Arundel, Batchelor, Brough, Caton-Brown, Crowther, England, Hampshire, Hirst, Jones-Bishop, Jowitt, King, Kopczak, Lyne, Miller, Pauli, Randell, Tanginoa, Tupou, Wood.
Coach Daryl Powell, who this week signed a new long-term deal with the club, makes four changes to the squad that was beaten at home by Leeds last time out.
Jake Trueman and Tuoyo Egodo return following their head assessments last week with Oliver Holmes returning to the squad for the first time since their last meeting with Wakefield back in April. Youngster Jacques O’Neill is also included.
Significantly, winger Greg Eden has been dropped from the squad after making a costly error in last week’s defeat to Leeds.
Castleford’s 19-man squad: Blair, Clare, Clarkson, Egodo, Holmes, Maher, Massey, Mata’utia, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Minikin, O’Neill, Rankin, Sene-Lefao, Smith, Trueman, Watts.
HEAD TO HEAD
The two side’s played out one of the game’s of the season back in April, with Castleford claiming a narrow 28-26 win at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle, with the home side almost surrendering a 26-4 lead after a superb second-half fightback from Trinity.
Castleford have, extraordinarily, won each of their last 12 meetings against Wakefield with their last two meetings at the Mobile Rocket Stadium ending in tight 11-6 and 25-24 wins for the Tigers, coming from 16-0 behind at half-time to win in the latter fixture. Trinity’s last win against the Tigers came back in February 2015, with current Cas’ man Paul McShane amongst the tries for Wakefield in a 24-22 success.
Max Jowitt (Wakefield) v Peter Mata’utia (Castleford)
With both side’s out of form recently, Wakefield and Castleford need some of their more creative players to come to the fore. The returning Max Jowitt should be able to provide the spark that Trinity have been missing. He played exceptionally well in their Magic Weekend defeat to Catalans (his last Super League appearance) and provided three try-assists in their defeat to Castleford back in April. Still only 22-years-old, and with five tries and four assists in just eight Super League appearances in 2019, his return to the side could help Wakefield win this West Yorkshire derby clash for the first time in 12 meetings.
Former Samoa international Peter Mata’utia impressed greatly up until April but has only provided two try assists in his last nine Super League appearances. Prior to that, he had scored two tries and set-up a further 10 tries, with his own dip in form coinciding with the Tigers dropping out of the top-five. That said, the full-back clearly has plenty of talent, carrying the ball on 310 occasions this season (the ninth highest in the competition) as well as producing 31 offloads (the seventh highest of any player in Super League in 2019).
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 12th July
Venue: Mobile Rocket Stadium
Referee: Marcus Griffiths
WHO WILL WIN?
History is on Castleford’s side, having not lost to Wakefield since February 2015. Every two points is crucial, from now until the end of the season, making this West Yorkshire derby a must-win game for both side’s. The loss of Fifita is a massive blow to Trinity’s chances and, coupled with their poor showing against Catalans’ last time out, should give Castleford the edge in this one. Castleford to win by six points.