Wakefield look for play-off spot


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Rejuvenated Wakefield aim to make it a three-year best and keep alive their outside hopes of a top-eight finish in Super League when they host St Helens tomorrow.

Successive wins over Huddersfield, Leeds and Castleford have given the Wildcats the sniff of a play-off spot and a fourth consecutive victory tomorrow would take them to within a point of eighth-placed Hull KR, their opponents next weekend.

It would be Wakefield's best run since they won five league games in a row under John Kear in 2009 and, with fixtures against Widnes and Salford to come, they have a chance to end Richard Agar's first season on a glorious high.

"I think we are a long shot," Agar said of his side's play-off prospects.

"I think we'd have to win every game and results would have to go our way as well but it's nice at this stage that all of a sudden we are getting talked about that we have a chance.

"I definitely think Sunday's match is potentially the most difficult one we've got left and that's not being disrespectful to anyone else.

"I know Saints lost to Warrington last Monday but they are in good form and they possess so many good individuals. It's going to be a huge challenge for us."

St Helens' hopes of a top-two finish were dashed by Monday's 22-12 defeat at Warrington and they are facing competition from Catalan Dragons and Leeds for third spot but hooker James Roby is convinced they can quickly get back to winning ways.

"We don't become a bad team overnight," he said.

"Over the last couple of months we have played really well and knocked off wins in a row. We know what we are capable of.

"We have to get back to winning ways and put this one down to being off our game. There are four rounds before the play-offs and we want to do as well as we can."

Catalan aim to keep the pressure on Saints when they take on a depleted Hull at the KC Stadium, where they will be seeking to complete the double following their recent 44-14 win in Perpignan.

Already without a host of regulars through injury, Hull have lost Joe Westerman to suspension and coach Peter Gentle will give late fitness tests to a host of un-named players before kick-off, not that he is looking to make excuses.

"We are all over the shop at the moment, including with our team selection, but it's been individuals not respecting the ball enough that has cost us," Gentle said.

"We need to find some consistency in what we are doing. Our completion rate simply hasn't been good enough.

"You can be the best defensive team in the competition, but with the amount of possession we are gifting teams, it's very hard to be consistently good in defence.

"Catalan are a big physical side so it's a fair challenge. But, if we can match them in the middle, we can go a long way towards getting the points.

"If we don't control the middle, Scott Dureau can play on the front foot and saw in France what happens when he does."

In tomorrow's other game London Broncos can lift themselves off the foot of the table if they win at Castleford to make it back-to-back wins for the first time this year.

The Broncos staged the biggest comeback in Super League history to defeat Salford 40-28 last week and give interim boss Tony Rea his first win and he is confident they can end an 18-month wait for an away win.

"We've had an extended week at training with an extra day in the turn-around which has been helpful," he said.

"We've got some good miles done in preparation for getting to the start line."