THE PRESSURE is off Wakefield Trinity Wildcats going into tonight’s game at Salford Red Devils, prop Nick Scruton says.
Surprise victories over then-leaders Warrington Wolves and Catalans Dragons, who would have gone into pole position had they won, lifted Wakefield into sixth place at the start of First Utility Super League round 16.
Wildcats are seven points clear of ninth-placed Hull KR, with Salford a further point back in 10th. Several weeks ago Wakefield’s clash with Salford looked like being pivotal in the race for a place in the Super-8s, but the shock wins over two of the competition’s top sides have given Scruton and his teammates valuable breathing space.
“We said before the Catalans game if we won that one we would have a foot in the top-eight,” Scruton said.
“We are just about there. Those wins have taken the pressure off and hopefully we can just enjoy ourselves now and really try and get as far up the table and get as many wins as we can, then see what we can do.
“We’ve got a big game coming up in the Challenge Cup as well, so it would be nice to get some momentum for that, then you never know.”
After 15 Super League rounds last year Wildcats were bottom of the table and on a run of 13 successive defeats in the competition.
Last Sunday’s 25-24 victory over Catalans – secured through Jacob Miller’s late drop goal after they had trailed 14-0 – was Wakefield’s ninth in 10 league and cup matches since Chris Chester took over as coach before Easter, and Scruton said: “I’ve always felt winning is a habit and so is losing. Last year we found a way to lose games at times, but now it’s the opposite and we are doing it the right way round and finding a way to win games.
“We are hanging in there and with the spirit and work ethic we’ve got, we are giving ourselves a chance. We are finding a way to get over the line. We beat Catalans without Anthony England, who has been probably our best forward this year, and Scotty Moore, so we are doing it tough.
“A lot of teams talk about their injuries and we have got our fair share. To lose those two from our starting pack put us on the back foot, but we are all having a dig for each other and we are working hard. We played really well against a big, physical Catalans side and we’ll have to do it again against Salford.”
Salford would be seventh but for a six-point deduction due to past breaches of the salary cap, and Scruton added: “They are a big, physical set and Michael Dobson is one of the best half-backs in the league.
“He gets them into the right places and they play really well at home.
“It will be a big game, but one we’re going into full of confidence.”
Reece Lyne could return for Wildcats tonight after injury and England is available after fulfilling his one-match ban punishment. Salford are without Justin Carney (suspended), but Niall Evalds is back in contention, along with Jordan Walne and Olsi Krasniqi.
Salford Red Devils: from O’Brien, Bibby, Evalds, Joseph, Lannon, Lui, Hauraki, Dobson, Flanagan, Tomkins, Kopczak, Murdoch-Masila, G Griffin, Jones, A Walne, Krasniqi, Sa’u, Vidot, A Walne.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: from Jowitt, Jones-Bishop, Hall, Arundel, Johnstone, Miller, Finn, Scruton, Sio, Simon, Ashurst, Kirmond, A Tupou, B Tupou, Arona, Anderson, Annakin, Lyne, England.
Referee: Joe Cobb (Leigh).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.