Another Cup Final For Warrington
Sky Sports hyperbole generator Phil Clarke told everyone who was prepared to listen that defeat for Warrington at St Helens last week ruled them out of the running for a top four spot. They are certainly in a hole having lost all of their opening six Super League fixtures but Wolves coach Tony Smith refused to press the panic button in the aftermath;
“We’ve got to handle this patch with dignity. I’m going to continue to work hard, be respectful about players and performances and we need to stay united.” he Tony Smithed. Yet the former Huddersfield and Leeds boss must be concerned even at this relatively early stage of the season not just about his side’s top four prospects but also about their chances of even making into the Super 8s and so avoiding the scrap against relegation. Now they head for a repeat of the 2016 Challenge Cup final against Hull FC knowing that defeat in this one could be almost as damaging as it was that day at Wembley.
A Hull FC win would put Lee Radford’s side 12 points clear of the Wolves and keep them in touch with Castleford at the top of the table. It would be completely unthinkable for a Warrington side which also hosts Leeds Rhinos before the always demanding Easter period gets under way. The meeting with Hull FC is another cup final for Warrington, no doubt about it.
Dragons Must Start Firing Again
Warrington’s troubles are well documented but Catalans Dragons are also approaching a point at which every game becomes a must win. Laurent Frayssinous’ side have failed to build on a solid start which saw them beat both Warrington and Hull FC in the first two weeks of Super League only to fail to win a single game since. Their only point since beating the black and whites at the KCom was in a home draw with Widnes Vikings, itself a result which has to be considered a disappointment from a Dragons point of view.
Another loss this week at home to Wakefield Trinity would be a serious blow to the Dragons’ playoff hopes and would leave them languishing outside the top eight after seven games. They could even slip into the bottom three with a loss coupled with an admittedly unlikely win for the Brough-less Giants against the Tigers. What is more the Dragons have managed to lose narrowly to Wakefield in each of their last two meetings including at the Magic Weekend in Newcastle last May when Jacob Miller’s breath-taking drop-goal earned the then Wildcats a 25-24 success. They backed that up with a 30-28 win over the Dragons in Perpignan in July, and their last defeat to the French side was a 42-18 reverse at Belle Vue more than a year ago.
It might not be a high scorer, with only Warrington and Widnes having scored fewer points than Wakefield so far this term and only those three and the Giants having managed less than the Dragons. Trinity have made fewer errors in possession than any other side and should that trend continue they may just have enough to spring what would still be considered a surprise.