Betts hopes to avoid cup hangover
Widnes Vikings coach Denis Betts is hoping his side can avoid a Tetley's Challenge Cup hangover when they resume their campaign for a First Utility Super League play-off spot tomorrow.
The Vikings are reeling from a 28-6 semi-final defeat by Castleford Tigers but they have little time to lick their wounds as they prepare to take on Huddersfield Giants at the John Smith's Stadium.
Hull KR's draw with Wigan Warriors on Thursday night enabled them to close the gap on eighth-placed Widnes to just two points and Betts is desperately hoping his club's promising season so far does not end on an anti-climax.
Betts said: "The challenge for the players is for them to get into another big game and to take away that horrible feeling they've got in the pit of their stomachs.
"We're going to use that as a tool to keep pushing us forward. It's frustrating and there is nobody more frustrated than the players. They're disappointed in themselves and in what they turned out. We'll need to regroup and move forward from that.
"Even though the semi-final defeat was such a disappointing one, I know everyone is this squad has improved and there is still that belief in them.
"But you have to get challenges like this out of the way, swallow the horrible medicine and move forward.
"We've still got a Super League play-off spot to fight for and that's exactly what we'll do. We have to find a positive response against Huddersfield this weekend."
Warrington Wolves bounced back from their semi-final defeat by Leeds Rhinos with a 48-10 win over an under-strength Castleford last night but Huddersfield are showing signs of capturing last year's table-topping form as they seek a fourth straight win and revenge for a 22-20 defeat earlier in the season.
Giants coach Paul Anderson said: "The Vikings have a lot to play for so it should be a good contest.
"We weren't good enough the last time we played them so we need to make sure we perform this weekend. We have worked hard over the last few weeks and believe we have had a great preparation going into this fixture."
Leeds coach Brian McDermott concedes his players are sure to be distracted by the prospect of Wembley when they take on relegated London Broncos at the Hive tomorrow.
It is 15 years since the Rhinos last lifted the famous knock-out trophy and McDermott says the excitement has been building since their fifth-round win over St Helens in April.
"It's been there for a while now," he said. "When we beat Saints, we knew that was a big one and from then onwards, we could smell it.
"We want to finish top of the league so we don't want to lose at London at all but, at the same time, I'd be a liar if I said we're not thinking about Wembley. Of course we are."
Leeds have the chance to trim St Helens' lead to two points while London, who will have England Knights winger Kieran Dixon making his comeback from a knee injury, are hoping to avoid becoming the first club to go through a Super League season without a win.
The other relegated club, Bradford Bulls, will be aiming to maintain their late-season resurgence when they host Hull FC.
James Lowes' side have claimed the notable scalps of Wigan and Leeds since having their relegation to the Kingstone Press Championship confirmed and that has made Hull coach Lee Radford very nervous ahead of his side's trip to his old club.
"Looking at the game on paper counts for nothing because their last two fixtures should have been losses for them and that never transpired simply because of the way they are playing," said Radford, who played for Bradford for seven years.
"That may have come with the pressure being off since being relegated or Jimmy may have even installed a bit of his own character into the players. He was a never-say-die player and I think that is showing a little bit in some of the performances."