HOW THEY handle the semi-final occasion will be crucial to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ hopes of ending their long Wembley drought.
Wildcats will face Warrington Wolves at Leigh Sports Village tomorrow bidding for a first appearance in the Challenge Cup final, now sponsored by Ladbrokes, since 1979.
Wakefield’s most recent semi-final was eight years ago and most of their players will be experiencing the unique atmosphere for the first time.
But centre Reece Lyne is confident they will not be caught cold.
“It will be my first time in a semi-final and the first time for a few of us,” Lyne said of tomorrow’s showdown.
“It will be a good occasion. Warrington are used to being in semi-finals and finals and it will be up to us to manage the occasion and put our best foot forward.
“We are going there with not as much pressure on us. We will just enjoy the occasion and hopefully put in a good, strong performance.”
Warrington finished the regular season in second place on the Super League table, 13 points ahead of eighth-placed Wakefield.
But Wildcats won 36-28 the last time the teams met, at Belle Vue two months ago, and Lyne insists they have what it takes to create a massive upset.
“They are a top team,” the former Hull man said of Warrington.
“They have got some star players who need taking care of, but we have beaten them once already this year and we will go there confident and looking to do a job and get into the final.”
Warrington are hot favourites to reach Wembley for the fourth time in seven seasons, but were beaten at the semi-final stage in each of the past two years.
Wakefield coach Chris Chester masterminded Hull KR’s semi-final victory over Warrington 12 months ago and Lyne said: “The pressure is on them.
“We will turn up and we will put on a good show, I am sure of that.
“We showed for 50 or 60 minutes on Sunday that when we play well and we complete our sets, we are a tough nut to crack.
“We just need to get back to that.”
Wildcats’ hopes of going into the semi-final on the back of a win were dashed in the final quarter of last weekend’s game at home to Castleford Tigers, who scored five unanswered tries after Trinity had led three times.
Lyne descried the 46-20 defeat as“very disappointing” and he added: “It was a massive game, a local derby against Cas, so we were disappointed for us and the fans not to get the win.
“I thought we were the better team, definitely, for 50 or 60 minutes, but individual errors at key times cost us.
“But it is a different ball-game this week, with it being a semi-final, and we will have a few key players back as well, so we are looking to go over there and put on a good show.”
Whatever happens tomorrow, Lyne reckons it has already been a successful year for Wakefield.
“If you look at last season and where we were in the first four weeks this year, to get to where we are now is a massive achievement,” he said.
“The boys deserve a lot of credit and obviously Chezzie [Chester] has come in and done a good job.
“But we aren’t going to the semi-final to make up the numbers. We are looking to get into the final.”