Widnes eye landmark Leeds win
Widnes Vikings are eyeing another landmark victory when Super League champions Leeds Rhinos visit the Halton Stadium tomorrow.
A week after gaining their first away win over Bradford Bulls for 23 years, the Vikings are seeking to topple the Rhinos for the first time for a decade.
Leeds have won all seven meetings since their 29-14 defeat on June 28 2003, most recently just a fortnight ago at Headingley where they came from behind to secure a 38-28 success.
Widnes, who have already exceeded the number of points they gained in their first season back in the top flight in 2012, will go into tomorrow's return encounter in buoyant mood after coming from 28-16 down to beat the Bulls 32-28 in their last match.
"It will be a big test for us for a number of reasons," said Leeds coach Brian McDermott.
"Widnes' confidence will be high after their performance last week at Bradford. Denis Betts spoke about how they felt they could have beaten us at Headingley less than a fortnight ago and I am sure they will want to put those lessons into practice on Sunday.
"Likewise, we have obviously lost a few people from that game which I am sure will give them an extra spring in their step to overturn the last result."
Leeds have centres Kallum Watkins and Joel Moon back from injury and suspension, but England second rower Jamie Jones-Buchanan is out with a knee problem and that could pave the way for Alex Foster to become the fourth teenager to make his debut for the champions in the last month.
Widnes' former Wakefield Trinity Wildcats forward Frank Winterstein, who is set to make his 100th appearance in the British game, knows the injury-hit Rhinos will still present a difficult challenge for his side.
"We're under no illusions that whatever 17 come here, it is still going to be a really strong Leeds team," he said.
"They've been at the top of the pecking order for a number of years and they've got a really good squad - with a number of young players putting their hand up and stepping up to the mark in recent weeks.
"We know that they'll definitely be enthusiastic and we've got to match that by playing our A game."
Warrington Wolves will be without leading tryscorer Joel Monaghan and England internationals Richie Myler and Chris Hill for their trip to Bradford tomorrow, but prop forward Garreth Carvell will line up against the team he will join next season.
"It will be a bit strange coming up against my future team-mates and obviously I'll want to impress them," Carvell said.
"But, at the end of the day, I'm contracted to Warrington until the end of the season so it's business as usual and I'll be concentrating on what I need to do to try and win the game."
While the Wolves will be aiming to stretch their winning run to four matches and close to within two points of leaders Wigan Warriors, the Bulls are looking to end their four-match losing run which threatens to ruin their play-off hopes.
The Yorkshiremen have slipped from third place in April to outside the top eight after winning just one of their last eight games, but coach Francis Cummins insists all is not lost.
"We have hit rock bottom but we have to stick together and work hard for each other and we will come out of it," he said.