Safety for Widnes will deepen mire for Castleford
Saturday 31 July 2004
Widnes, who are expected to name their new coach next week, can virtually ensure their Super League survival if they deepen Castleford's plight today.
Victory at The Jungle would give them an eight-point gap with seven games to play and Castleford would have to look elsewhere - almost certainly to London - for a team they might be able to overhaul.
The Tigers have failed in their efforts to bring in a new overseas player, to replace the injured and released Sean Ryan, this week, but they at least have reinforcements available for this one, with Paul Mellor, Craig Greenhill and Wayne Godwin added to last week's 17, and Francis Maloney set to make his first appearance for 10 weeks.
Two of Widnes' most influential players, Jules O'Neill and Willie Peters, have been receiving treatment all week, but Matthew Whitaker, on loan from Huddersfield, comes into contention, as does Paul Devlin, for the first time since injuring his knee on Widnes' pre-season trip to Australia.
The pick of the games tomorrow is at Hull, where Bradford need to win if they are to have a realistic chance of finishing above their hosts and in the top two. Victory today would give Hull a four-point lead going into their easier run-in and a real chance of sending off Shaun McRae with a Grand Final appearance as he goes home to coach South Sydney.
Richard Swain is expected to be fit for Hull and Gareth Raynor should be able to return after a knee injury.
Danny McGuire could break Paul Newlove's record of 28 tries in a Super League season when Leeds face Wakefield. McGuire is now level with the previous best, following his hat-trick against St Helens last week.
Leeds, who are being linked with the Manly winger, Scott Donald, as a possible signing for next season, have Andrew Dunemann back against opponents still without Gareth Ellis.
Third-placed Wigan expect to have Kevin Brown back in their side at London for the first time since he broke his leg at Wakefield in May.
Russell Bawden, who recently returned to the Broncos after a stint playing in France, is in line to make his third debut for the club.
Warrington can continue their drive for a top six place at home to Salford. Wolves are starting to look stronger on the wings, with John Wilshere back for this one and Henry Fa'afili due to arrive next week.
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