Wolves aiming to close in on Wigan
Warrington Wolves have the chance to turn up the heat on Stobart Super League leaders Wigan Warriors when they meet in tomorrow’s table-topping clash at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
A victory for the Wolves, who are the current holders of the league leaders’ shield, would take them to within a point of the Warriors with just three games left of the regular season.
Warrington have not topped the table since March but they are running into form at the right time with five straight wins, including a Carnegie Challenge Cup semi-final triumph over Huddersfield Giants to keep alive their dream of an elusive double.
Wigan, who can concentrate on the league following their cup exit, have been the pacesetters since the midway point of the season with just one defeat in their last 15 games.
Wolves coach Tony Smith admits they deserve to be top - for now.
“They’ve been terrific so far,” he said. “They’ve been the most consistent team.
“But it’s over 27 rounds and I think there’ll be a few twists and turns in the competition before we’re all finished.”
Wigan coach Shaun Wane is old-fashioned enough to cherish the league leaders’ shield, insisting the table-toppers deserve recognition for their consistency throughout the year, and he has made no secret of his desire to get his hands on the trophy.
“It’s a big thing for me and Saturday is a game I have been looking forward to for weeks and weeks,” he said.
While Warrington are at full strength, Wigan are still without five regulars through injury but centre Darrell Goulding and forwards Paul Prescott and Ben Flower are back.
Young stand-off Sam Powell will be looking to build on his tryscoring debut in last week’s win over Hull FC, but Smith admits the biggest threat will come from full-back Sam Tomkins.
“They’re not sitting in number one by coincidence,” he said. “They deserve to be there.
“They’ve a formula they like to play by and then you throw Sam Tomkins on top of that. He can produce some of the most spectacular rugby league, the most dangerous rugby league of any player in the world at times.
“That’s exciting and I love watching Sam play. We’ll be doing everything we can to keep him as quiet as possible and that’s all you can do.
“I don’t think you can take Sam away from playing good rugby league. Even on days when he’s quieter than others, he still plays well.”
Tomkins is currently in a rich vein of form with 11 tries in his last four league games and, with 26 for the season, is just four behind team-mate Josh Charnley, who needs six more to equal the record for tries in the regular season of 36 set by Bradford’s Lesley Vainikolo in 2004.
Warrington currently have three men in the top 10 but Wane has pinpointed evergreen stand-off Lee Briers as the main threat to his side.
Briers, who was a tryscorer in his side’s 22-20 win at the DW Stadium in March, was in superb form in the Wolves’ convincing 22-12 victory over St Helens on Monday.
“I was really impressed with Warrington on Monday,” Wane said.
“Our aim on Saturday is to go set for set with them and not allow them to get into a lead which is what we look to do.
“In the first 25 minutes I am expecting the score to be really low.
“Lee Briers and Richie Myler are the two main players, especially Lee. A lot of Warrington’s quality comes through him.”