Wakefield Trinity Wildcats go into Sunday’s Engage Super League clash against Crusaders at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground seeking to put the record straight and placing a new entry in the club’s illustrious history book.
The Wildcats want to balance the books after being beaten 20-10 by the Welsh club at Belle Vue on April 11 and it will be Trinity’s first ever appearance at the home of Wrexham Football Club.
The Wildcats are currently enduring wretched run of results in the Engage Super League and the club’s coaching staff are working hard with the players to break the run of disappointing outcomes.
Head Coach John Kear has said: “What we’re looking for from Sunday’s game is an 80-minute performance. We’ve played some great football for 50, 60 or 70 minutes in recent months but we really need to do it for the full 80 minutes.
“We know what we can do as we showed against Leeds Rhinos in Edinburgh and against Catalans Dragons last week but it’s a case of being able to keep that going all the way through the match.”
Last weekend the Crusaders shocked the Super League world when they went beat reigning Super League champions Leeds Rhinos 32-26 and Kear is keenly conscious of that result.
“The Crusaders are a solid Rugby League team that contains some very good players’” said Kear. “And even though they had some injury problems they had enough talent in their side to win at the Headingley Carnegie Stadium. That deserves our respect.”
Wildcats too have their injury concerns and before Kear named his 19-man squad today (Friday) he knew that hard-working second row forward Dale Ferguson would be ruled out. He is due to see a specialist about a hernia problem while winger Luke George will have to undergo a late fitness test.
The Wildcats have the capability to take both points on Sunday. Of that there is no doubt because there are enough players of quality all through the team.
As Kear rightly points out consistency is a matter of concern for the Wildcats players and this will be a key factor against a Crusaders team that now has the same number of points as Wakefield and only trail Trinity on points difference.
Brian Noble has constructed a Crusaders team who, like the Wildcats, has top-eight aspirations but they too have yet to deliver a truly consistent level of performance.
A key battle ground will be at halfback. Last week against the Dragons Kear went for Ben Jeffries and Paul Cooke while Noble fielded Rhys Hanbury and Peter Lupton. On paper at least the Wildcats would seem to have the right kind of material to mount a challenge in that area and if Cooke’s kicking game is truly on song it might prove to be the tipping point.
But Hanbury played well against Leeds last week while Lupton is a wily campaigner so it could be an interesting contest de[pending on who the two coaches decide to play.
The battle of minds between Kear and Noble will be fascinating too.
Former winger Kear has been working overtime to put the Wildcats back on track while one-time Trinity hooker Noble has done well to turn the Crusaders into a team with serious top-eight hopes.
Both are master tacticians and looking for that master stroke that will ensure their team emerges as winners.
Nothing is certain in Super League as the Crusaders demonstrated at Headingley Carnegie last week.
As Kear emphasises form can return just as quickly as it goes. The work on the Wildcats training pitch has gone on throughout the week and the Wildcats go to North Wales expecting to be competitive. Now they need to maintain their concentration and get the rub of the green.