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Vikings aiming to sign off in style at home to Warrington
VIKINGS will be aiming to sign off their first year back in the top flight on a high note on Sunday when they host local rivals Warrington at the Stobart Stadium.
It is a game that Widnes must get at least a draw from to have any chance of avoiding the wooden spoon after they let last week’s game at Belle Vue slip away in the closing minutes.
That defeat means that Widnes are still beneath London and Castleford on points difference going into the home straight after a tough and occasionally turbulent season.
But win, lose or draw on Sunday, coach Denis Betts simply wants his side to show how far they have come since the last time they played the Wolves at Manchester Magic last May.
Betts said: “We are playing a side that can score a hell of a lot of points if you’re not on your game and they are on theirs.
“Even if we finish bottom of the table, we don’t want to finish the year with a performance at home that doesn’t reflect how much we have advanced in the second part of the year.”
Although the game matters little for the Wolves as their league position cannot be altered, Betts still anticipates a tough encounter regardless of what side they put out.
Wolves showed no sign of seeing post-Wembley champagne corks last weekend when they thumped Huddersfield, and Betts believes they will have their eyes fixed on a double.
“They have won the Challenge Cup three times now, and have got used to that so they see the Grand Final as a big carrot.
“They are going in to this week to get a performance and get in a team that is possibly going to get to Old Trafford.
“It is going to be a tough weekend for us – the pitch here will suit them as they are a top of the ground side,” Betts said.
Vikings go into the game without stand off Danny Craven, who was injured after being felled after he kicking the ball late last Sunday. He will be replaced by Joe Mellor at six and there remains a doubt over half back partner Rhys Hanbury who has a stiff back after taking a bang.
Should he not recover in time, speedster Hanbury would also be a big loss given what he has brought to the Vikings party as the year has progressed.
Betts said: “His pace is fantastic and his confidence has increased as he has grown into his role and there is much more to come from him. “He needs to do better to bring other people into play but his push and support when he carries the ball is as good as any in the league. It has been a pleasure to watch him grow.”