Behind the Sticks - Week 25

With only three games of the regular Super League season left Wigan entertain Salford City Reds at the JJB stadium.

This game is vital for both sides but for entirely different reasons. The Warriors are desperate for the points to achieve a play-off place whilst Salford know that if they fail to win and Hull KR register victory this weekend they will be relegated from Super League after gaining promotion back in 2003.

Nobody ever mentioned Salford as relegation candidates when the season kicked off in February. After achieving their first ever play-off place in 2006 the City Reds where again tipped to challenge for the very least a play-off place especially after what appeared a successful recruitment campaign in the off season. Salford signed Luke Dorn, Mark Edmondson and the much sought after Michael Korkidas.

For whatever reasons Salford have failed to reach the playing heights of 2006 and parted company with Karl Harrison earlier in the season to bring Shaun McRae over to rescue them from the bottom of the league. With just 3 games to go that rescue act looks like mission impossible.

However they are due to field their strongest team for 6 months and having recently beaten Bradford and running St Helens close.

It’s been an up and down season for the Warriors with consistency being the biggest missing ingredient but three victories in the final three games of the season could grab them a deserved top six finish.

If the Warriors grab a play-off place they could well be a force to be reckoned with. The Warriors with the exception of St Helens have defeated all the top sides this year either home or away and won’t be frightened of anyone.

Without doubt the man to lead Wigan to any play-off glory will be Trent Barrett. Barrett has simply been sensational in his debut year in the British game. He’s certainly inspired Wigan to a few vital victories this season and none would be more vital than this Friday evening. Team news for Wigan is that second row Gareth Hock is ruled out for last three games of the regular season. Danny Hill comes in to replace the injured Hock after impressing in the academy side over the last few weeks.

Salford look set to recall Andy Coley whilst Simon Finnigan and Gareth Haggerty could return from injury. Salford basically have three cup finals left to save their season and their Super League future. As Wigan know, the pressure at the foot of the table can be huge and it will be interesting to see how this affects the Reds.

This game should be tense and very tough. Hold onto your seats Warriors fans this should be one fantastic game!

Winning Margin: Wigan to beat Salford by 11-15 points

1st Try Scorer: Trent Barrett

THE RIVERSIDER

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