WAKEFIELD Trinity Wildcats boss Chris Chester admits Salford Red Devils’ failure to overturn a points deduction has eased pressure on his own side but also sharpened their focus.
If Salford had won their appeal against a six-point deduction for salary cap breaches, they would have replaced Wakefield in seventh spot and pushed them down to the critical cut-off point of eighth with just three rounds remaining.
However, their Super League rivals yesterday saw the independent body Sports Resolutions uphold the original decision by an RFL tribunal.
Chester’s side, which has lost four of their last five league games, head to joint-leaders Wigan Warriors tonight knowing now just a point from their next three fixtures would guarantee them a place in the top-eight.
“I’ll sleep a lot easier if we get another two points, that’s for sure,” he said.
“With the Salford thing that has happened it’s taken a lot of pressure off the boys and we can go to Wigan and enjoy ourselves.
“But we can’t rely on teams below us to keep losing; we want to push on as much as we can and we’ve got three winnable games before the split that we’re looking to get results from.
“What we don’t want is what happened to Hull last year. After a week or two, the Super-8s was over for them, so it’s vital we keep tabs on a side like St Helens who are four ahead of us.
“We’ve got a good chance of keeping in touch with them before the split.”
Wakefield are currently eight points behind Catalans Dragons in fourth – the position that then secures a Super League semi-final spot at the end of the next stage.
They know, then, that with potentially 10 games to go, they have their work cut out.
Tonight they visit Wigan who Wakefield memorably beat 62-0 in April, the sort of result that fired last year’s bottom side into the top-eight reckoning
“They’re a very different side to the one who came here a few months ago, and we’ve not read too much into that game,” insisted Chester, Wigan having been blighted by injury and illness that afternoon.
“Everything seemed to tick for us that day and I’m expecting a very physical game now from Wigan.
“They’re the best team in the comp’ at this moment in time and we need to find some form and defend a lot better than we have done for the last few weeks.”
Chester added he was “disappointed” by Wigan coach Shaun Wane’s comments this week that Wakefield “rammed the win down their throats” when they last met.
“There certainly wasn’t any member of our staff ramming something down Wigan’s throat,” he said. “It was a proud day for the boys. We were delighted with the win and although the fans might have got excited, we just took it as a great performance from us.
“We understood there was an illness going through their camp, but we can only control what we control.”