HOME FORM could decide Wakefield Trinity’s fate in the race for the eight, coach Chris Chester says.
Trinity face Leigh Centurions tonight in their third home game of the Betfred Super League season, having lost to Hull and beaten Salford Red Devils in their opening fixtures at Beaumont Legal Stadium, Belle Vue.
With promoted Leigh sitting in a surprise sixth spot and Trinity four places and two points adrift, tonight’s clash already looks like a four-pointer.
But – after a series of shock results across the competition – Chester predicted every home game this year will be crucial as Wakefield aim to match or better last season’s eighth-place finish.
“We want to win as many home games as we possibly can,” Chester stressed.
“Everybody says exactly the same – if you win your home games you are pretty much half-way there.
“If you can jag a few away wins, sooner or later you are going to get to 20 points, which has been enough to get into the top-eight for the last couple of years.
“We had a good win last time at home against Salford, who backed up by turning Castleford over. It is a good, open competition this year which is what everybody wanted.
“We are excited about this game and playing again in front of the Sky cameras.”
Leigh will arrive at Wakefield buoyed by wins over St Helens, Huddersfield Giants and Warrington Wolves, all on their own ground.
With the promoted visitors growing in confidence every week, Chester reckons Trinity will need a big improvement of last Friday’s performance in the 38-14 loss at Leeds Rhinos to get anything out of tonight.
“I have been impressed with the way they’ve been playing,” Chester said of Leigh.
“They are learning every week, they are learning on the job.
“They will have been disappointed with their start to the season, the first game at Cas, but they have steadily improved.
“They’ve had some quality wins the last few weeks and it will be another tough encounter.
“They are playing very well and they are very aggressive, with a very physical pack.
“We need to be a lot better than we were against Leeds last Friday or the result will be the same.
“We have got to be a lot more physical and a lot more aggressive, we have got to try and match their physicality.”
Keegan Hirst has been named in Trinity’s initial 19-man squad for tonight after recovering from injury.
James Batchelor and Liam Finn are also in contention to a recall, but Mikey Sio drops out from the team beaten at Leeds.
Leigh are without Australian forward Glenn Stewart, who is suspended.
On-loan Hull back Curtis Naughton is vying for a call into the 17, along with Dayne Weston and James Green.
Wakefield Trinity: from Allgood, Arona, Arundel, Ashurst, Batchelor, Fifita, Finn, Grix, Hadley, Hirst, Huby, Johnstone, Jones-Bishop, Kirmond, Miller, Tupou, Walker, Williams, Wood.
Leigh Centurions: from Brown, Higson, Crooks, Dawson, Drinkwater, Hock, Higham, Weston, Hansen, Pelissier, Tickle, Vea, Hampshire, Reynolds, Green, Hopkins, Acton, Burr, Naughton.
Referee: Chris Campbell (Widnes).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.