WAKEFIELD TRINITY will visit Emerald Headingley on Friday for a derby clash with Leeds Rhinos. Here are five talking points ahead of what is a huge game for both clubs.
1: It is not exactly make or break, but the losing side will be under massive pressure. A Trinity victory would secure their place in the Betfred Super-8s and – depending on Huddersfield Giants’ result at home to Wigan – leave Rhinos at least two points adrift with two rounds remaining. But if Rhinos win, whatever happens elsewhere, Trinity will be in their sights and Wakefield have a tougher run-in. It is not in Leeds’ hands, but they can take back some control.
2: Both sides are coming off a poor performance, but Trinity’s recent form is better. They under-performed in last week’s 35-18 loss to Catalans Dragons, but had been playing relatively well before that. Rhinos are on a run of eight successive Super League defeats and have conceded 88 points and scored only 18 in their last two games. However, Rhinos won 28-26 when the sides met in March and that should give them some confidence.
3: There was no obvious sign of improvement for Rhinos in last week’s 42-10 thrashing at Castleford Tigers, but none should have been expected. The new coaching set-up had only two days to prepare for the game and that’s not enough time to make major changes. It will be the same this week, but Sinfield and Lowes have been working hard on adding structure to Rhinos’ play and selecting players in their specialist positions last Sunday was a positive step.
4: It was good to see Academy boss Rob Burrow working with Rhinos’ first team at Castleford. He has plenty to offer and a close relationship between the under-19s and senior team makes it easier for players to step up.
5: It could be close. Half of both sides’ 20 league games this year have been decided by six points or fewer.