Wakefield Wildcats head coach Richard Agar has called on his side to produce a repeat of last year’s performances against Leeds Rhinos when the champions visit the Rapid Solicitors Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 3.30pm).
Wildcats scored 116 points over four matches against Brian McDermott’s men last season and were unfortunate in picking up only one win for their efforts.
Wakefield led in their Challenge Cup clash with Leeds last term before going down 38-18 at Headingley Carnegie and scored 40 points in the away league clash but slipped to a 44-40 defeat. Leeds also came out on top in the play-offs, despite Agar’s men again leading at half-time.
The sole win for Wakefield came on home soil, a memorable 38-18 victory, and more of the same would be just the ticket for a side looking for their first win in five matches.
“When we played them last year they were good games,” said the Wildcats boss.
“Right throughout they were good, entertaining games we felt were in for long periods. Even the play-off game we looked back on the ifs, buts and maybes.
“If we can reproduce that sort of quality again then it should be a spectacle that’s worth looking forward to.”
A Wakefield win will have to come without the services of half-back Tim Smith (calf), skipper Danny Kirmond (knee) and prop Andy Raleigh (knee), although former Rhinos favourite Ali Lauitiiti and Justin Poore both return.
“The calibre of players out of our team is a significant loss,” said Agar.
“It’s up to everybody else to raise their game and try and make up for that.”
Rhinos come into the game on the back of an impressive victory over Wigan Warriors last weekend, and Agar is expecting nothing other than a titanic tussle.
“Leeds, this year, look really fit,” he said.
“They’re getting off the line really quickly and they’re a strong, powerful team with lots of good ball carriers.
“As we all know with Leeds they’ve got the brilliant individuals that can beat people one-on-one and produce plays when it looks like there’s nothing on.
“Like most teams in the competition they’ve had their off-days but I thought the pace of the game and the intensity against Wigan, and in a couple of other games including Melbourne, they’ve been impressive.”
He added: “I’d imagine we’ll have a great crowd on a Friday night playing the champions at home. I’d be disappointed if motivation was an issue for us.”
Squad: Mathers, Fox, Collis, L Smith, Cockayne, Sykes, Poore, Aiton, Lauitiiti, Washbrook, Wood, Amor, Wilkes, Mariano, Trout, Mellars, Lyne, Wildie, Annakin.