Super League: Widnes Vikings v Wigan Warriors preview
Last Updated: 28/08/14 7:31pm
Reigning Super League campaigns Wigan Warriors will aim to close the gap on leaders St Helens with a Friday night trip to face rivals Widnes Vikings at the Select Security Stadium.
Shaun Wane’s Warriors currently trail Saints by three points with three rounds of regular season action to play before the destination of the League Leaders’ Shield is confirmed.
However, after a run of three successive victories at the start of July, Wigan have begun to waver with defeat to the relegated Bradford Bulls and a draw with Hull KR sandwiching their triumph over the Salford Red Devils in Round 23.
While Wigan are bidding to dethrone the Saints and be crowned minor premiers, Widnes are yet to seal their place in the Super League knockout stages.
"I understand that Widnes have pinpointed this game as a must win and we are exactly the same, so it has the makings of a really tough encounter,” Wane told the club’s official website.
“I want us to start well with a fast pace as when we do that we normally perform well. We have three really tough games left, but I am glad about that as we will be battle hardened going into the play-offs.
“I want us to win all three games and I want us to win them the Wigan Way. If we can do that then we will go into the end of season fixtures full of confidence."
"I want us to start well with a fast pace as when we do that we normally perform well. We have three really tough games left, but I am glad about that as we will be battle hardened going into the play-offs."
Denis Betts’ men boast only a two-point advantage over ninth-placed Hull KR in the final playoff place and history does not favour a home victory on Friday.
The Warriors have prevailed in the five previous meetings between the sides, meaning the Vikings must buck their losing trend if they are to edge closer to securing a top-eight finish.
Ahead of Wigan’s arrival Betts has made two changes to his 19-man squad, with centre Cameron Phelps replacing winger Jack Owens and Alex Gerrard coming in as a straight swap for prop Paul Johnson.
Meanwhile, there are welcome returns for Wigan duo Michael McIlorum (broken arm) and Iain Thornley (torn pectoral) after lengthy spells on the sidelines.
McIlorum has been out of action since the Widnes home fixture back in June whilst Thornley returns to the side for his first appearance since Good Friday when the Warriors recorded a 33-14 win over St Helens.
Widnes Vikings: Ah Van, Allen, Brown, Cahill, Carberry, Clarke, Dean, Flynn, Galea, Gerrard, Hanbury, Joseph, Leuluai, Marsh, Mellor, O'Carroll, Phelps, Tickle, White
Wigan Warriors: Bateman, Charnley, Clubb, Crosby, Doran, Dudson, L. Farrell, Gelling, Green, Hughes, James, Manfredi, McIlorum, O'Loughlin, Pettybourne, Sarginson, Smith, Taylor, Thornley
First Utility Super League
Tue 30th Jun
Hull K R34 - 28Salford Red Devils
Wed 1st Jul
Wakefield Wildcats26 - 16Hull FC
Thu 2nd Jul
Warrington Wolves17 - 6Wigan Warriors
Fri 3rd Jul
Leeds Rhinos46 - 18St Helens
Sun 5th Jul
Huddersfield Giants32 - 14Hull K R
Hull FC31 - 24Wakefield Wildcats
Salford Red Devils18 - 14Catalans Dragons
Castleford Tigers34 - 20Widnes Vikings
Thu 9th Jul
Wigan WarriorsvsLeeds Rhinos
Fri 10th Jul
St HelensvsHuddersfield Giants
Sun 12th Jul
Hull FC0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Salford Red Devils0 - 0Hull K R
Wakefield Wildcats0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Widnes Vikings0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Thu 16th Jul
Warrington WolvesvsSt Helens
Fri 17th Jul
Hull K RvsHull FC
Leeds Rhinos0 - 0Salford Red Devils
Wigan Warriors0 - 0Widnes Vikings
Sat 18th Jul
Catalans DragonsvsHuddersfield Giants
Sun 19th Jul
Wakefield Wildcats0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Thu 23rd Jul
Hull FCvsWigan Warriors
Fri 24th Jul
St Helens0 - 0Hull K R
Sun 26th Jul
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Wakefield Wildcats
Leeds Rhinos0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Widnes Vikings0 - 0Salford Red Devils
Castleford Tigers0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Super League 2014, round 25
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Catalan Dragons coach Laurent Frayssinous was left delighted at his side's first half-performance against London.
Chris Chester lamented an "embarrassing" and "pathetic" performance after Hull KR lost 28-0 to Hull FC.