After 29 regular season rounds, the race to Old Trafford is into the final stretch as the Playoffs begin. Kicking things off are fourth place Warrington as they welcome fifth Place Castleford to the Halliwell Jones Stadium. Here is everything you need to know.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Wire come into this match off a loss last time out against Leeds. However, after the 29 rounds they have a 16-13 record, securing 32 points. Although they finished fourth, they did drop from second in the final few weeks of the season.
Castleford have been resurgent over the last few weeks. Although losing last time out against Wigan, they have been able to keep up with the five, and snatched the final place off Hull FC two weeks ago. They finished fifth with a 15-15 record. Can they use the momentum and reach Old Trafford?
Steve Price has made two changes to his side following last weeks defeat to Leeds. They are Matty Smith (one match ban) and Sitaleki Akauola who are replaced by Harvey Livett and Lama Tasi.
This could be Ben Westwood’s final ever game if the Wolves lose.
Warrington Wolves 19-man squad: Austin, Charnley, D Clark, J Clark, Cooper, Currie, Goodwin, Hill, Hughes, King, Lineham, Livett, Mamo, Murdoch-Masila, Patton, Philbin, Ratchford, Tasi, Westwood
Daryl Powell has also made two changes to his side that lost last time out. Jesse Sene-Lefao (two match ban) and Nathan Massey have dropped out and Jacques O’Neil and Will Maher have come back in.
Castleford Tigers 19-man squad: Blair, Clare, Clarkson, Cook, Ellis, Holmes, Maher, Mata’utia, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Minikin, O’Neill, Rankin, Smith, Trueman, Turner, Watts
HEAD TO HEAD
The last time these two met, Castleford ran out 27-18 winners. With 10 of the 27 coming from Peter Mata’utia boot, and Jake Trueman scored five points, with a drop goal and a try.
Whilst for Warrington, they had four different scorers, with six out of the 18 points coming from Dec Patton. So far this season these sides have met three times with the Wolves having won two and the Tigers once.
In the last five meetings, Castleford have won three and Warrington two with Castleford scoring 113 points, with an average of 22.6 per game, while the Wolves have scored 116 points at an average of 23.2 per game. So this game could go down to golden point.
Blake Austin (Warrington Wolves) v Jake Trueman (Castleford Tigers)
If there’s one place this one will be won is in the half’s. In the Wire corner is Dream Team member and Man of Steel nominee Blake Austin. The magic man has been key this year for the Wolves success. After missing out at Wembley, he will want to end his first year with a bang. He is a danger anywhere and can dominant key stages of the game. With 18 tries this year, and 12 assists he has been a key part of the Wolves in 2019. There is talk that Blake Austin could fill the void at Brisbane Broncos and return to the NRL.
For our opposition is Jake Trueman. The young prospect has had to step up due to Luke Gale’s season long injury. An influential player in the Tigers chase of the playoffs. Linking with Paul McShane they have guided the Yorkshire side well. He will need to be kept quiet otherwise it could be closer than we would want. He has eight tries to his name, and 13 assists. The 2018 winner of the Young Player of the Year, he will only improve as the years go on.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday September 19, 7:45pm
Venue: The Halliwell Jones Stadium
Referee: C. Kendall
WHO WILL WIN?
Warrington just have the edge in this one, although Cas are the in form team, the Wire just seem to have an edge when it comes to knock out rugby under Steve Price. Wire win by 6-10 points.