'We'll meet challenge head on': Wakefield Trinity boss Mark Applegarth defiant for Leigh Leopards' visit
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Trinity have lost all eight fixtures so far this season and are marooned at the foot of Betfred Super League.
Every week without a win is a step closer to the Championship, but Applegarth insists it is important they meet the crisis “head on”.
“We have got to go into every game thinking we can win,” he said. “We know we have left ourselves a hill to climb and I think it’s really important you don’t shy away from that sort of stuff and you meet it head on.
“You have got to rise to the challenges and every single game we are in now, we have got to have that desperation about us that we are fighting for our survival, because that’s the reality of the situation.”
Trinity are averaging less than a converted try per game and finishing their chances has been the focus in training this week.
Wakefield trailed 12-0 at half-time against Castleford Tigers in the Easter derby, but pulled a try back - avoiding a fourth whitewash of the campaign - and did most of the pressing in the second period without being able to get the ball down over the line.
“We created 14 opportunities and I think Cas defended eight of them really well, which means we fluffed the rest of them,” Applegarth reflected.
“We need to learn to be more clinical and we need to improve our decision making. We have talked openly and honestly about how we can go about that.
“The players have taken it on board and we have got to start putting it into practice. We can’t keep making the same mistakes and expecting different results. We’ve got to learn our lessons and put those interventions into place.”
Promoted Leigh began the round ninth in Super League, six points ahead of Wakefield. They are not under the same pressure, but will go into the game knowing victory would be a major boost to their hopes of Super League survival.
The visitors, with former Wakefield coach Chris Chester as head of rugby, have already had notable away wins at both Hull clubs, as well as beating champions St Helens.
Applegarth rates Leigh as “a really dangerous team” and he warned: “They have got some quality attacking play about them, especially with [John] Asiata in the middle and [Lachlan] Lam and [Ben] Reynolds playing off the back of that.
“Edwin Ipape at nine is a handful for anybody and they’ve also got an ex-Man of Steel in Zak Hardaker running at full-back or centre.
“They have got a lot of strike about them; they are like all of us, if they haven’t got their main players on the field, that’s when gaps appear, but they have been fit and able, which has been good for them.”
Kelepi Tanginoa has been given the all-clear after injury and returns to Trinity’s squad. Josh Bowden is set to make his first appearance of 2023 and Jorge Taufua, Eddie Battye, Harry Bowes and Sam Eseh are all in contention for a call into the 17. Jordan Crowther and Nathan Mason drop out.
Wakefield Trinity: from Taufua, Lyne, Lino, Battye, Hood, Whitbread, Ashurst, Tanginoa, Pitts, Kay, Bowden, Antoni, Kershaw, Proctor, Smith, Langi, Bowes, Eseh, Hewitt, Dagger, Senior.
Leigh Leopards: Hardaker, Briscoe, Chamberlain, Leutele, Charnley, Mellor, Lam, Amone, Ipape, Mulhern, Asiata, Reynolds, Holmes, O’Brien, Davis, A Smith, Gannon, O’Dionnell, Wilde, Hanley, Seumanufagai.
Referee: Marcus Griffiths (Widnes). Kick-off: Sunday, 3pm.