Wakefield Wildcats: Wildcats boss sets stage for repeat performance

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MORE OF the same is the call from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats boss Brian Smith ahead of tomorrow’s second pre-season hit-out, at Featherstone Rovers.

Wildcats made an impressive start with a 14-6 victory at treble-winners Leeds Rhinos on Boxing Day. With less than a month until their First Utility Super League opener at home to Widnes Vikings, Smith is keen to see a repeat of that spirit and defensive effort, with some fine touches added.

“It is important for us to do as well as we possibly can in our pre-season games,” Smith said. “The guys got quite a bit of confidence out of the win at Leeds.

“They had a pretty fair side out and to concede only one try in 80 minutes of rugby league is a good effort, so it was very much a confidence-booster for our guys.”

A second-string Rovers lineup drew with amateur neighbours Featherstone Lions last Sunday, a week after a stronger team were beaten 42-28 at Castleford Tigers. They trailed 36-0 and 42-6 at the Jungle and Smith – whose team use Rovers’ training facilities – said: “We saw that they fought back hard in that one.

“We talk to them and we know they were pretty pleased with the way they finished that game, in particular. We will be on our toes; we don’t want to be embarrassed in pre-season games, or any game.

“The things we did so encouragingly against Leeds we want to see if we can do them again. We want to build that consistency we didn’t have last season.”

Rovers coach Jon Sharp is looking for his team to carry on from where they left off against Castleford. He said: “For 40 minutes we played pretty well, against a really good team.

“We’ve got a couple of blokes coming back with more experience, so our expectation is a bit higher than maybe it was against Castleford.

“The momentum from that second half should stand us in good stead. In the first half we showed them too much respect.

“We hung off them and gave them a bit too much time. We have to start better this week.”

Rovers complete their pre-season campaign against Leeds Rhinos later this month and Sharp added: “The whole point is to give us an indication of where we want to get to.

“We didn’t want a false dawn by high scores against lesser opposition, we wanted to test ourselves.

“All three teams are well-coached and well-drilled and they should help us build a template for the season.”

Misi Taulapapa, signed from Sheffield Eagles, will make his first appearance for Rovers and Tim Spears and Ian Hardman are due to play after missing the Castleford game through injury.

Wildcats are without Scott Moore (biceps) and Scott Anderson (nose), who underwent surgery this week.

Former Australian Test star Anthony Tupou, signed from Cronulla Sharks on a two-year contract, is set to make his first appearance for Wildcats.

Featherstone Rovers from: Johnson, Taulapapa, Thackeray, Griffin, Cooper, Cording, Ormandroyd, Roche, Snitch, Davies, Hardman, Milner, Spears, Wildie, Bostock, Joynt, Day, Turner, Hill, Channing, Tagg.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats from: Annakin, Arona, Arundel, Crowther, England, Gibson, Hall, Howarth, Johnstone, Jowitt, Lyne, Molloy, Sio, Shulver, Tansey, A Tupou, Walker, Walton, Yates.

Referee: James Child (Batley).

Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.