THE race for play-off spots in Super League is heating up and Warrington Wolves are right in the thick of it.

With four games remaining, they find themselves fifth in the table as they prepare to welcome Castleford Tigers to The Halliwell Jones Stadium in Round 24.

Can Gary Chambers' side take themselves closer to securing a top-six spot? Or will Danny Ward's Tigers take a huge step towards safety?

Our Wire reporter Matt Turner picks out five key talking points ahead of the game here...

Warrington Guardian:

Time for Wire to kick on

It had certainly been a long time between drinks for Warrington Wolves but finally, their long winless run is at an end.

To be precise, Saturday’s win at Hull FC came 77 days after their previous victory – the 30-26 triumph over Huddersfield Giants back on June 10 – and came as a huge relief to players, coaches and supporters alike.

Now that particular monkey is off their back, however, it is important they push on from here and at least finish the season strongly.

With the majority of their squad fit and available and with confidence no doubt building following the result at Hull and the performance in defeat at Leeds the week prior, they have the perfect opportunity to do so.

Warrington Guardian: Matty Ashton skips over the try line to seal victory over Hull FCMatty Ashton skips over the try line to seal victory over Hull FC (Image:

An opportunity to build a cushion?

Of course, an easy game in Super League does not exist and even though Wire will start as favourites against second-bottom Castleford on Saturday, they know full well that is far from a cast-iron guarantee of success.

Should they avoid complacency creeping in, however, they could well have opportunity to build something of a cushion for themselves ahead of what looks to be a key game at Salford next weekend.

The Red Devils and Hull KR, both of whom are alongside Wire on 24 points but sit either side of the dotted line that marks out the play-off spots, face the competition’s leading two sides tonight – Salford travel to Wigan Warriors while Rovers host leaders Catalans Dragons.

Should both of those games go to form, Warrington would build a two-point cushion for themselves over their closest play-off rivals.

They may also have half an eye on the other game tonight as fourth-placed Leigh Leopards, who sit four points ahead of them currently, host in-form Huddersfield Giants.

> How the Super League play-off race looks ahead of Round 24

Will Chambers rotate his middle unit again?

Since coming into his role as interim head coach, Gary Chambers has spoken often about his desire to keep his middle unit as refreshed as possible.

That has seen some rotation of some of the bigger men in the side, with Sam Kasiano and Gil Dudson stepping out for the Leeds and Hull games respectively while James Harrison and Jordan Crowther have both had stints at starting at loose forward.

It seems unlikely the reunited and successful starting front-row partnership between Tom Mikaele and Paul Vaughan will be disrupted, but Dudson could be an option to return if Chambers feels one of the middle unit players needs a rest.

There is also Joe Bullock, who has not seen action under Chambers yet to the surprise of many, but his fitness is in doubt having picked up an injury playing for the reserves at Leeds Rhinos.

Warrington Guardian: Gil Dudson missed the victory at Hull FC last time outGil Dudson missed the victory at Hull FC last time out (Image:

Which side of Ward’s Tigers will turn up?

Castleford have had two games under their new head coach Danny Ward, with contrasting results.

His first game in charge saw them pick up a crucial win over neighbours and relegation rivals Wakefield – a result that could play a huge part in preserving their Super League status and condemning Trinity to the drop.

However, that was followed by a 34-4 thrashing at the hands of St Helens last time out in a game that saw them fall 30-0 down in the first half.

The new coach will have now had another week to get his ideas across to his players and in the knowledge that one more victory should see them safe, they will no doubt arrive with a desperation to succeed.

And this group of players have had joy against Warrington in the recent past having beaten them 23-14 at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle back in June.

Warrington Guardian: Saturday will be Danny Ward's third game in charge of Castleford TigersSaturday will be Danny Ward's third game in charge of Castleford Tigers (Image:

Austin and Widdop look to haunt former club

For a while, Blake Austin and Gareth Widdop were seen as the dream half-back pairing brought together to guide Warrington to that elusive first Super League crown.

As we all know, however, things did not turn out that way and now both will be plotting to hinder their old side’s play-off chances on Saturday.

Both have come back to haunt their old club already this season – Austin enjoyed a fine game when Leeds Rhinos won 22-6 at The Halliwell Jones Stadium in June before joining the Tigers on loan for the rest of the year.

A week before that, Widdop was influential in Castleford’s 23-14 win over his old side at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle, kicking a late drop goal to set up a key victory.

Warrington Guardian: Blake Austin and Gareth Widdop were teammates at Warrington Wolves for two seasonsBlake Austin and Gareth Widdop were teammates at Warrington Wolves for two seasons (Image: