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SPIRIT of 55: French dress rehearsal is excellent preparation
10:15am Thursday 12th September 2013 in Wolves news
WITH second place already their guaranteed finishing position, there may have been nothing tangible to play for but Wire certainly took the Catalan game seriously and used it as vital preparation for the play-offs.
Making the longest away trip of the season against a good side who needed to avoid defeat to earn home advantage in their first round play-off match, was always going to be a more than useful rehearsal.
For a couple of players in particular the game came just in time, Brett Hodgson and Ryan Atkins getting a full, intense hit out on their returns from injury.
It was great to be tested by the sort of wet conditions they are likely to face in the play-offs at least once and their battling qualities shone through.
There it is then, another season of league matches complete, 27 rounds of fighting to get into the play-offs and jostling for position within that top eight.
Once again Wire find themselves needing three more wins to finally be crowned champions for the first time since 1955.
This year they will more than likely have to beat Leeds, probably either twice at home or once away, just to make it to Old Trafford, which doesn’t seem too great a reward for finishing in second place.
Right now, Wire are the bookies’ favourites for the title, and it’s still only a handful of years ago that would have been nothing more than a crazy dream.
This campaign has felt like one where Wire have never quite been at their best, as if not wanting to reveal all they have until play-off time, like a poker player only showing two of their four aces.
Unlike last season there haven’t been any absolute hammerings suffered, so the two defeats that really stick in the throat are those at the hands of Widnes.
So far Wire’s peak came between the Magic Weekend victory over Saints and the comfortable cup quarter-final triumph against Huddersfield, with the epic win against Wigan the ultimate highlight.
Possibly the most confidence-boosting aspect of the season has been Wire’s record against the other teams that occupy the other positions in the top five in the final standings.
In 10 games against those four teams, Wire have seven wins, one draw and just two losses, including three big wins against table-topping Huddersfield.
Another pleasing aspect was the signs of developing a habit of scoring late in matches, particularly in the spell from the Magic Weekend onwards.
Wigan stealing Huddersfield’s traditional late season slump has blown the play-offs wide open and Wire really are running out of reasons for them not to become champions - they need just one more win than last year!
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