Super League: Widnes Vikings v Wigan Warriors preview
Last Updated: 28/08/14 7:31pm
Reigning Super League campaigns Wigan Warriors will aim to close the gap on leaders St Helens with a Friday night trip to face rivals Widnes Vikings at the Select Security Stadium.
Shaun Wane’s Warriors currently trail Saints by three points with three rounds of regular season action to play before the destination of the League Leaders’ Shield is confirmed.
However, after a run of three successive victories at the start of July, Wigan have begun to waver with defeat to the relegated Bradford Bulls and a draw with Hull KR sandwiching their triumph over the Salford Red Devils in Round 23.
While Wigan are bidding to dethrone the Saints and be crowned minor premiers, Widnes are yet to seal their place in the Super League knockout stages.
"I understand that Widnes have pinpointed this game as a must win and we are exactly the same, so it has the makings of a really tough encounter,” Wane told the club’s official website.
“I want us to start well with a fast pace as when we do that we normally perform well. We have three really tough games left, but I am glad about that as we will be battle hardened going into the play-offs.
“I want us to win all three games and I want us to win them the Wigan Way. If we can do that then we will go into the end of season fixtures full of confidence."
"I want us to start well with a fast pace as when we do that we normally perform well. We have three really tough games left, but I am glad about that as we will be battle hardened going into the play-offs."
Denis Betts’ men boast only a two-point advantage over ninth-placed Hull KR in the final playoff place and history does not favour a home victory on Friday.
The Warriors have prevailed in the five previous meetings between the sides, meaning the Vikings must buck their losing trend if they are to edge closer to securing a top-eight finish.
Ahead of Wigan’s arrival Betts has made two changes to his 19-man squad, with centre Cameron Phelps replacing winger Jack Owens and Alex Gerrard coming in as a straight swap for prop Paul Johnson.
Meanwhile, there are welcome returns for Wigan duo Michael McIlorum (broken arm) and Iain Thornley (torn pectoral) after lengthy spells on the sidelines.
McIlorum has been out of action since the Widnes home fixture back in June whilst Thornley returns to the side for his first appearance since Good Friday when the Warriors recorded a 33-14 win over St Helens.
Widnes Vikings: Ah Van, Allen, Brown, Cahill, Carberry, Clarke, Dean, Flynn, Galea, Gerrard, Hanbury, Joseph, Leuluai, Marsh, Mellor, O'Carroll, Phelps, Tickle, White
Wigan Warriors: Bateman, Charnley, Clubb, Crosby, Doran, Dudson, L. Farrell, Gelling, Green, Hughes, James, Manfredi, McIlorum, O'Loughlin, Pettybourne, Sarginson, Smith, Taylor, Thornley
First Utility Super League
Thu 23rd Jul
Hull FC12 - 48Wigan Warriors
Fri 24th Jul
St Helens52 - 12Hull K R
Sun 26th Jul
Huddersfield Giants34 - 24Wakefield Wildcats
Leeds Rhinos36 - 22Catalans Dragons
Widnes Vikings21 - 20Salford Red Devils
Castleford Tigers6 - 44Warrington Wolves
Thu 6th Aug - Super 8's
Wigan WarriorsvsHuddersfield Giants
Fri 7th Aug - Super 8's
Castleford Tigers0 - 0Hull FC
Leeds RhinosvsWarrington Wolves
Sat 8th Aug - Super 8's
Catalans DragonsvsSt Helens
Thu 13th Aug - Super 8's
Castleford TigersvsWarrington Wolves
Fri 14th Aug - Super 8's
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Leeds RhinosvsWigan Warriors
St Helens0 - 0Hull FC
Thu 20th Aug - Super 8's
St HelensvsHuddersfield Giants
Fri 21st Aug - Super 8's
Hull FC0 - 0Leeds Rhinos
Warrington WolvesvsWigan Warriors
Sat 22nd Aug - Super 8's
Catalans DragonsvsCastleford Tigers
Thu 3rd Sep - Super 8's
Huddersfield GiantsvsCastleford Tigers
Fri 4th Sep - Super 8's
Leeds RhinosvsSt Helens
Sat 5th Sep - Super 8's
Wigan Warriors0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Sun 6th Sep - Super 8's
Warrington Wolves0 - 0Hull FC
Thu 10th Sep - Super 8's
Castleford TigersvsSt Helens
Fri 11th Sep - Super 8's
Wigan WarriorsvsHull FC
Sat 12th Sep - Super 8's
Catalans DragonsvsLeeds Rhinos
Sun 13th Sep - Super 8's
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Thu 17th Sep - Super 8's
Leeds RhinosvsCastleford Tigers
Fri 18th Sep - Super 8's
Hull FC0 - 0Huddersfield Giants
St HelensvsWigan Warriors
Sat 19th Sep - Super 8's
Warrington Wolves0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Fri 25th Sep - Super 8's
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Leeds Rhinos
Hull FC0 - 0Catalans Dragons
St Helens0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Wigan Warriors0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Super League 2014, round 25
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Chris Chester lamented an "embarrassing" and "pathetic" performance after Hull KR lost 28-0 to Hull FC.