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Warrington Wolves prepare for the biggest week in their season so far
Wolves now face their toughest test of the season so far, a double header against Saints and Wigan in one week
WARRINGTON Wolves are preparing for the biggest week in their season so far.
A brutally tough double header against Super League title rivals St Helens on Monday and leaders Wigan Warriors on Saturday, August 11 will make or break Warrington’s chances of keeping hold of the coveted second spot in the table, a position that gives them an edge going into the play-off fixtures in the second week of September.
A win against Saints, who are three points back from Warrington in the standings, on their first trip to Langtree Park on Monday, kick off 8pm, would almost certainly secure their place in second barring a major drop in form during the final month of the season.
And wins in both matches would put Wolves in a perfect position to snatch the League Leaders’ Shield from the Warriors if they slip up in the remaining matches.
With Wigan still to play Saints on the last week of the regular season, back-to-back victories could well put Wolves in a position to perform an astonishing snatch and grab against their fierce rivals, though boss Tony Smith is not concerning himself with any thoughts of the final table.
“I am not sure whether a win against Saints on Monday will secure second place for us or not,” he said.
“I have not spent a single minute thinking about it and it is not our focus at all.
“We will go out there looking to play our best and stay in some decent form.
“The first half on Sunday (against Bradford) was almost faultless in many respects and if we play like that on Monday, it will make for a good game.”
Wolves’ Saints hoodoo may now have been banished to the recent past, but that does not mean that they pose any less of a threat to Wolves than they did during their famous unbeaten run from 1995 to 2011.
Wolves’ record stands at just three victories against Saints in the last 41 Super League meetings between the two sides (including play offs), and though two of those came in a league double in 2011, Saints’ recent form indicates they are back to near their best.
St Helens, who welcome back Tony Puletua from suspension, have not lost a Super League game in two months, recording six victories on the bounce since a draw against Hull in the first week of June, and Wolves are therefore fortunate to be practically at full strength heading into such a physically demanding week.
With Saints’ form gaining momentum as the season reaches its climax, Smith is relieved to have so many options at his disposal.
“Micky Higham, Ryan Atkins, Chris Hill, Trent Waterhouse and Brett Hodgson are all up for selection,” said Smith.
“Ben Harrison has taken a knock and has some bruising on one of his ribs and though he may well be available for Monday, he will require some checking out later in the week.
“Saints are feeling good about themselves and are very confident in the way they are playing.
“They have had an upturn in form as the year has gone on and they are riding that wave right now.”