Both Wigan Warriors and Wakefield Trinity will look to return to winning ways on Thursday night, having both suffered derby defeats in Round 22. It’s a must win game for the Warriors who sit in the play-off places on points difference. Defeat for Wakefield could leave them with a relegation battle on their hands. Here’s everything you need to know.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Wigan lost 32-10 to local rivals and league leaders St Helens, last time out, and were soundly beaten at the Totally Wicked Stadium. However, that was the Warriors first defeat in six Super League games, having won their previous five matches. The Cherry and Whites simply have to keep winning if they are to secure an end of season play-off place, currently in fifth-place and only ahead of Castleford Tigers on points difference, meaning there is no room for error on Thursday night.
Wakefield have struggled in the second-half of the Super League season and have won just once in their last eight matches. They were beaten 36-16 at home by Castleford in their last outing, a scoreline that was harsh on the Dreadnoughts after conceding a flurry of late tries and need to start winning again if they are to avoid a relegation battle. They sit eighth in the table and are both four points away from the play-off places and bottom side London Broncos.
Adrian Lam has made two changes to Wigan’s 19-man squad from last week’s defeat to St Helens.
Prop forward Joe Bullock, missing for just the second time this season, is ruled out with a knee injury and Thomas Leuluai misses out with a lower back injury.
In their place comes Jack Wells and academy player Ethan Havard.
The Warriors are still without a host of first-team players with Sean O’Loughlin, Ben Flower, Joe Greenwood, Dom Manfredi and Tom Davies all missing through injury.
Wigan’s 19-man squad: Burgess, Byrne, Clubb, Farrell, Gildart, Hankinson, Hardaker, Havard, Isa, Marshall, Navarrete, Partington, Powell, Sammut, Sarginson, Shorrocks, Smithies, Wells, Williams.
Chris Chester has made just a single change from the side that was beaten by Castleford last time out.
Chris Annakin returns to the 19-man squad and replaces Craig Kopczak who is ruled out with a quad problem.
Tyler Randell is also included in the squad, having been a late withdrawal last week, and is contention to feature at the DW Stadium.
Wakefield’s 19-man squad: Annakin, Arundel, Batchelor, Brough, Caton-Brown, Crowther, England, Hampshire, Hirst, Jones-Bishop, Jowitt, King, Lyne, Miller, Pauli, Randell, Tanginoa, Tupou, Wood.
HEAD TO HEAD
Trinity claimed a marvellous 30-20 win against the Warriors back in April, despite suffering injuries to four players during the game, however, the two sides are in contrasting form to when they last met. That game also saw Wakefield winger Ben Jones-Bishop grab a brace and Wigan’s Joe Burgess score a hat-trick. The two side’s have shared five victories apiece in their last 10 head-to-head meetings with Wakefield last winning at the DW Stadium in May 2017.
Joe Burgess (Wigan) v Ben Jones-Bishop (Wakefield)
Wigan born and bred, Joe Burgess is a try-scoring machine, having scored 13 tries in 15 Super League appearances in 2019. The winger scored a hat-trick against Trinity back in April, despite being on the losing side. Wakefield have conceded 30-plus points in four of their last five games, and conceded hat-tricks to Jodie Broughton and James Clare in two of those matches suggesting that Burgess will have plenty of try-scoring opportunities on Thursday night.
Wakefield winger Ben Jones-Bishop also impressed in Wakefield’s win against the Warriors back in April, scoring two tries. The 30-year-old has seven tries in 2019, playing in every round so far this season, and will need to use all of his experience to prevent both Burgess and Wigan from coming away with the two points. Whilst he may not be the most prolific try-scorer, Jones-Bishop will need to be at his best defensively, on Thursday night, to help turn Wakefield’s season back in the right direction.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday 18th June
Venue: DW Stadium
Referee: Robert Hicks
WHO WILL WIN?
On paper this looks like it should be a comfortable win for Wigan, given Wakefield’s lack of recent form. The Warriors had their longest winning streak of the season ended last week but know anything but a win will see them lose crucial ground in the race for a play-off spot. On the other hand, Wakefield are currently on their worst run of form this season and have gone into free fall in recent weeks. Victory against the Warriors looks unlikely but the Dreadnoughts know a win would ease the threat of falling into a relegation battle. Wigan to win by 18 points.