Northern Rail Cup preview
Northern Rail Cup quarter-final
Widnes Vikings v Barrow Raiders (7.30pm, Sky Sports 4)
Last year’s Northern Rail Cup finalists go head-to-head in a mouth-watering quarter-final clash on Thursday.
The Vikings were 34-18 victors at Bloomfield Road last year, guaranteeing themselves the right to apply for an Engage Super League licence in the process.
But Barrow bounced back and took out the 2009 Co-operative Championship title, meaning they too have the right to put forward their claims for a place in the top flight.
Dave Allen and Chris Gerrard could both keep their places in the Widnes line-up after coming through the Vikings’ last fixture without any further problems.The pair both needed painkilling injections for Widnes’ defeat against Batley but coach Paul Cullen is hopeful they will be fitter for Thursday’s Northern Rail Cup quarter-final.
However, Cullen will be keeping his fingers crossed over the outcome of Wednesday’s RFL disciplinary committee meeting.
Vikings star Richard Varkulis could be banned for up to three matches if he is found guilty of a dangerous throw on Batley’s Jonny Campbell.
Barrow coach Steve McCormack believes this week’s clash is of even higher priority than last week’s Carnegie Challenge Cup tie at St Helens.
Raiders are just two games away from the Northern Rail Cup final, and McCormack said: “It’s a massive game. It’s even bigger than last week.
“Widnes-Barrow games over the last two years have been really fierce encounters. It’s going to be just as tough this week as it was last week.”
Barrow’s Andreas Bauer looks set to retain his spot in McCormack’s squad after an impressive return to English Rugby League last week.
Bauer was brought in from Carcassonne to help ease the Raiders’ injury crisis, and he made an immediate impact by contributing to Barrow’s brave performance at St Helens.