WAKEFIELD TRINITY Wildcats need to start to impress when they take on Bradford Bulls in today’s crucial First Utility Qualifiers clash.
That’s the verdict of ex-Bulls prop Nick Scruton, who admitted the hosts can’t afford yet another poor opening as they bid to break their middle-eights duck.
Wakefield lost 34-26 at Salford Red Devils last week, after trailing 16-0 just before half-time and defeat to the Kingstone Press Championship visitors would be a huge blow to their Super League survival hopes.
Scruton said: “We can’t afford to go 16 points down.
“We’ve done that the last couple of weeks, we did it against Huddersfield and in a few games before then.
“We’re just giving ourselves too much to do from the start. If you concede 16 points in the first half you are going to have to ask some serious questions and really knuckle down after that.
“We conceded 34 points last week, so to win the game we’ve got to score six or seven tries. It is a lot to do.
“We know we need to knuckle down and get off to a good start, because we know we can finish well.
“That’s the big thing we’ve been working on this week, coming out of the blocks and starting well.”
Scruton, who joined Wildcats from Bulls early last season, admitted he has a huge role to play if they are to avoid the drop.
“In these next few games it’s up to us forwards to really lay a platform, myself included,” he said.
“I really need to play my best rugby of the season now, starting this week. I think a few of the boys are thinking on the same lines.”
Boss Brian Smith was brought in by Wildcats to mastermind their survival campaign in the middle-eights.
Wakefield have won just once in eight games with the the Aussie in the hot seat, but Scruton – who played for Smith’s brother Tony at Leeds Rhinos – said the coach is having a bigger influence than results suggest.
“He is quite similar to Tony,” Scruton said.
“I had a few years with Tony and there’s a lot of similarities between them and the way they go about things.
“He has been brilliant for us. He is quite ruthless and strict, there’s no messing about and he doesn’t mince his words.
“He has been really good for us and I think that’s what we needed really, someone to come in and grab the club by the scruff of its neck and say ‘this is the way we’re going, if you don’t want to be part of this you’re gone’.
“We don’t want people who don’t want to buy into it.
“We’ve six more games to do that now.”
Smith will select his team for this afternoon from the 17 players who lost to Salford, plus utility-back Jordan Tansey and prop Andy Yates.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats from: L Smith, Owen, Tupou, Arundel, Lyne, Miller, T Smith, Scruton, Moore, Anderson, Molloy, Ashurst Simon, Sio, Walker, Mullally, Washbrook, Tansey, Yates.
Bradford Bulls from: O’Brien, Sidlow, Purtell, Ferguson, Nielsen, Addy, Williams, Lauaki, Siejka, Clare, Pitts, Baile, Gaskell, Ryan, Blythe, Caro, Clough, Crossley, Olbison.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).
Kick-off: Today, 3pm.