Halifax hold key to Wakefield's fate

Dave Hadfield
Monday 27 January 2014 06:02
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Having seen his relegation rivals, Salford, win at Warrington on Friday, the Wakefield player-coach, Adrian Vowles, will be hoping for a similar degree of co-operation from Halifax this afternoon.

The situations are uncannily similar. Super League's bottom two were both listed to play a side which had made itself safe from the threat of relegation the previous weekend.

Teams can react in one of two ways in these circumstances: they can find a new freedom to express themselves or they can clock off early and start thinking about next season. Warrington adopted the latter course, and now it is up to Halifax.

The omens for Halifax are not good. They will be without four senior players – Bret Goldspink, Jim Gannon, Gavin Clinch and John Lawless – this afternoon and have had an unsettling week during which last year's rumours of a voluntary drop into the Northern Ford Premiership as a way out of their financial chaos were doing the rounds again.

Those rumours have been firmly denied and it is hard to see why a club would go to the expense of sacking a coach with almost a year to run on his contract if they were to drop out of Super League.

That does not mean that they will perform any better today than Warrington did on Friday. The Wolves' coach, Paul Cullen, was right to call it "a miserable performance".

"You can't cheat in this game," he said. "You can't pretend. You've got to be full on. We weren't and got what we deserved." If Halifax are struck by the same syndrome, that could allow Wakefield to climb above Salford once more, by one point, and every-thing would depend on the last weekend of the season.

The worst news for Salford there is that Wakefield play Warrington, although there is a chance that Cullen will be able to rouse the latter for a finale at the second attempt.

Salford have a much more difficult task against Castleford, who destroyed them at The Willows earlier this season. Castleford will still have plenty to play for, because following the London Broncos' narrow defeat at Leeds on Friday night they will, subject to beating Widnes today, be playing to confirm their place in the top six and the play-offs.

It all points to Salford's travails being far from over, despite the celebrations that accompanied their first win in 10 games on Friday.

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