Wolves primed after Smith reads riot act

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The Independent Online

Warrington can virtually sew up second place in Super League tonight, but only if they do something they manage only once in a blue moon – beat St Helens.

The Wolves have not defeated their neighbours since 2001, but go into this home match with the incentive of opening up a four-point gap on Saints if they do. Their coach, Tony Smith, was so disappointed by last weekend's performance in Perpignan that he cancelled his players' day off on Monday, so minds should be fully concentrated.

Smith expects to have Paul Wood, Louie Anderson and Matt King back after they missed the trip to France. Wood, now in his benefit season, is the only survivor from that win over Saints nine years ago.

Saints are boosted by the return of Keiron Cunningham after a toe injury and Chris Flannery from a calf strain, but two influential players are still missing in the shape of Matt Gidley and Kyle Eastmond.

In today's other game, Harlequins know that a home defeat by Hull could leave them bottom of the table by tomorrow night, as the only side below them, the Catalan Dragons, have a winnable match at Bradford.

Quins have David Howell and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook back in harness, but more significant could be the possible return for Hull of two vastly experienced forwards, Mark O'Meley and Craig Fitzgibbon. Hull are still without Sean Long.

The Catalans have David Ferriol, Chris Walker and Clint Greenshields back in contention at Odsal, after that one-point win over Warrington which their coach, Kevin Walters, says will give them confidence, not just for next week's Challenge Cup semi-final against the same opponents but also for the Super League run-in.

Bradford, on a dismal run of 10 defeats, have Paul Sykes back after suspension, replacing Brett Kearney, who is out with an ankle injury.

Hull KR, at home to Castleford, have emerged as favourites to sign the Australian Test forward Willie Mason, who says he wants to play in England when his contract at the North Queensland Cowboys expires at the end of this season. "I've nothing left to achieve in Australia and I want to give Super League a go," he said.

Mason says he has had expressions of interest from five Super League clubs, but has narrowed the field down to Rovers and Huddersfield, who have already signed his team-mate, Luke O'Donnell.

Castleford will be without their prop, Paul Jackson, for the rest of the season with a neck injury.

Huddersfield are at home to Wakefield, who are level with Crusaders on 18 points, two behind eighth-placed Castleford. Crusaders, who have a match in hand and superior points difference, have a home fixture tomorrow against Salford. The visitors will be without their playmaker, Daniel Holdsworth, as shoulder surgery has ended his season prematurely.

In the Championship, Featherstone can clinch first place in the table by beating Sheffield Eagles.

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