Big Rugby League weekend: Wakefield Trinity in Million Pound Game
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats take part in one of the biggest games in the club’s recent history with today’s million pound game against Bradford Bulls.
The massive clash will be televised live while Featherstone Rovers have the excitement of a final and the chance to lift some silverware tomorrow.
If they win today, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats will deserve to stay in First Utility Super League, prop Nick Scruton insists.
Wildcats face Bulls at the end of a tough season in which they finished bottom of the table and won only three of their 23 Super League fixtures, before losing four from seven in the Super-8s.
Under the new format introduced for 2015, the winners of today’s million pound match will take the final place in next year’s top-flight and Scruton reckons if Wakefield stay up, it will be on merit.
“That’s what the format’s there for,” said the former Leeds Rhinos and Bradford front-rower, who was Wildcats’ acting-captain during Danny Kirmond’s recent injury layoff.
“Everyone started on a clean slate, on zero points, so whoever stays up deserves to be there.
“I think it’ll come down to whoever turns up best on the day.
“The best team on the day will stay up and that’s how it should be.”
A Grand Final winner with Leeds Rhinos in 2008, Scruton described himself as “just as excited” about today’s game as he was his Old Trafford appearance.
“It will be a different feeling if we get the job done, which I am confident we can,” he predicted.
“I think it will be a feeling of relief, rather than the elation of winning a Grand Final – just the relief that we’re employed for another year!
Wildcats were 48-18 victors the last time the sides met, at Belle Vue in August and Scruton recalled: “We won that one quite easily and it’s nice to have that behind us, but I don’t think it will be anything like that now.
“I don’t think there’ll be a runaway score this time.
“I think it’ll be close, but I think we’ve got enough in our team to do it again.”
Wildcats have been in Super League since 1999 and had never finished bottom of the table before this year.
Chairman Michael Carter is confident the club can cope with relegation, but Scruton feels staying in the top flight is “massively important”.
He said: “Some clubs can go down and build back up like Bradford have, but I think we’d struggle, to be honest.
“It’s not a pleasant thought. The club has a proud history and it’s big for us to stay in Super League.
“That’s where we should be.”
Scruton joined Wildcats from Bradford early last season and admitted that has “added some spice and an extra sub-plot,” to this afternoon’s crunch showdown.
“Yes I have got mates there, but at the end of the day I have got a job to do and I need to do my best to keep Wakefield up,” he stated. “There will be no sentiment on the day, I’ll just be doing my best for Wakey.”
It is not the most prestigious competition on rugby league’s calendar, but a final is a final and Featherstone Rovers will be going all out for victory in tomorrow’s Kingstone Championship Shield decider at Widnes (4.30pm).
Last year’s Championship runners-up finished a disappointing fifth on the table this year, but topped the Shield ladder and have chance to go into the off-season on a high with a win over London Broncos.
Jon Sharp, who took over as coach from Andy Hay in July, said: “It is an opportunity to finish the year off strongly.
“It has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for the club. There was a lot of hope at the start of the year, but it was a disappointing opening to the campaign and a coach lost his job, unfortunately.
“Towards the back end we have turned that around and things look very different now to the way the club started.
“We have got a team full of kids under-23, with a smattering of experienced players.
“They are working hard for each other and playing some good stuff and we have said all along if we are in this competition, we are going to do our best to win it.
“We’ve won seven out of our last eight, which we are pleased with and I think the experience of a final and the build up to it will be good for the team and will give us some momentum going into the off-season.
“It’s chance to see how the young fellas handle it and to win some silverware.”
London, who were relegated from Super League last season, finished seventh in the Championship, but won at Dewsbury Rams last week to reach tomorrow’s final.
“They looked like a full-time team,” Sharp said of that game. “They were well-organised, fit and fresh.”
Jordan Baldwinson, who joined Featherstone from Leeds Rhinos on a one-year deal, will head back to Headingley at season’s end, and the 20-year-old plans to wrap up his Rovers career with silverware.
“It’s really important we finish with some silverware,” said Baldwinson. “The fans expect so much down at Featherstone so the pressure is on us to win.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time down at Featherstone and it would be nice to finish with some silverware when I leave after Sunday’s game.
“I’ve never got to or played in a final so I don’t want us to throw away all the hard work we’ve put in on the last and biggest game of the season.”