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Super League: Widnes Vikings v Huddersfield Giants preview
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Widnes Vikings face their first real test of 2014 when they host Huddersfield at the Select Security Stadium on Friday.
Coach Denis Betts will be only too aware that his team's opening day annihilation of the beleaguered Broncos will count for little when play gets underway against last season's League Leaders Shield winners, who are still without influential hooker Shaun Lunt.
Widnes posted 11 tries in their 64-10 home romp against the capital club, though hat-trick scorer and vice-captain Kevin Brown will miss this week's encounter through injury, as will former Bradford winger Patrick Ah Van.
The Vikings have won just four of their 12 Super League encounters against Friday's opponents, drawing one game and being on the wrong end of seven other results, so the fact that skipper Jon Clarke is also sidelined will not make their task any easier.
Betts has at least been able to dip into the transfer market, taking on the experienced Paul Clough from St Helens and Rhodri Lloyd, who joins from champions Wigan, both on season-long loan deals.
The pair look set to make their debuts against Huddersfield, who enjoyed an opening-day win against the Warriors before squandering a match-winning lead at home to Hull KR last week.
Giants coach Paul Anderson has brought in David Faiumu on to the bench to replace youngster Kruise Leeming, while he can still boast a formidable line-up, spearheaded by the 2013 Rugby League Writers' Player of the Year award winner Danny Brough.
The West Yorkshire club recorded a crushing 66-6 win over the Vikings at the Galpharm Stadium last season, although Widnes did defeat the visitors on their home patch two seasons ago and Betts will be know much more about his class of 2014 by the final hooter.
Vikings: Allen, Cahill, Clough, Craven, Dean, Flynn, Galea, Gerrard, Hanbury, Isa, Johnson, Joseph, Leuluai, Lloyd, Marsh, Mellor, Owens, Tickle, White.
Giants: Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Kopczak, Ferres, Chan, Bailey, Lawrence, Faiumu, Ta'ai, Wood, Broughton, Kaufusi, Johnson.
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Super League Table
|9||Hull K R||27||23|
|10||Salford Red Devils||27||23|
|13||Bradford Bulls *||27||10|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th February|
|20:00||Widnes vs Wigan|
|Friday 6th February|
|20:00||St Helens vs Catalans Dragons|
|Saturday 7th February|
|15:00||Warrington Wolves vs Salford Red Devils|
|Sunday 8th February|
|15:00||Huddersfield vs Hull|
|15:00||Hull K R vs Leeds|
|15:30||Castleford vs Wakefield|
|Thursday 12th February|
|20:00||Salford vs St Helens|
|Friday 13th February|
|20:00||Hull vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Widnes|
|20:00||Wigan vs Huddersfield|
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