The top and bottom of Super League will look a lot clearer after Huddersfield’s visit to the London Broncos today.
Their victory at Wigan last weekend, plus Warrington’s shock home defeat by Widnes on Thursday night, has left the Giants on the brink of the League Leaders Shield – which would be their first major trophy for six decades.
London are even more certain to pick up the wooden spoon for the first time in the Super League era, even though Kieran Dixon, their best player in the first half of the season, is fit to return after breaking his hand.
Huddersfield are only short of their hooker Shaun Lunt from their first-choice side and will be hot favourites to take a giant stride towards the prize at the Stoop.
Despite that, the Wigan coach, Shaun Wane, is not ready to concede anything. The Warriors are three points behind the Giants and two behind Warrington going into today’s fixture at the Catalan Dragons, but he still believes they can snatch the Shield. “They’ve got one hand on it,” he said of the Giants’ position with three games to play. “They’ve got a decent run-in and we’ve got some arm-wrestle games, but I still think we’ve got a chance.
“I’m not convinced Huddersfield are going to win every game and, if we just keep knocking off these games, then the pressure is on them if they slip up,” Wane added.
With the Challenge Cup final looming next Saturday, Wane has left Sean O’Loughlin and Darrell Goulding on this side of the Channel with what he describes as minor injuries. Sam Tomkins and Matty Smith are expected to return, however.
The Dragons have Frédéric Vaccari and Scott Dureau back after a victory at Bradford last week which left the Bulls with only the slimmest of chances of making the top eight and the play-offs.
They take those remote hopes to Castleford tomorrow without their hooker and joint-captain, Heath l’Estrange, who is ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
In tomorrow’s other game, St Helens will try to maintain their recently restored momentum at Wakefield
Warrington’s Brett Hodgson has been cleared of any major injury after the tackle that saw Widnes’s Hep Cahill sent off on Thursday but he has required stitches in his nose.
Widnes have vowed to identify and ban for life those spectators who caused trouble at the fixture. Several fans from the away end of the ground were ejected by police after fighting broke out.