Widnes Vikings v Warrington Wolves: Preview

Warrington Wolves 22-6 Widnes Vikings

Twelve months ago, Widnes and Warrington were first and second going into their Good Friday derby.

Fast forward a year and the Cheshire rivals are now preparing for a basement battle as the pair currently occupy the bottom two places in the Super League, having taken just three points apiece from their opening eight matches.

The Vikings were flying high this time last year after winning six of their first seven matches.

Things are very different this time around, with Widnes now sitting bottom after their 30-4 defeat at the hands of Wakefield Trinity last week.

A sparkling display from winger Tom Johnstone saw Wakefield prove to be too strong for Denis Betts’ side, and leaves the Vikings with only one win to their name this season.

Warrington come into this week’s game with much more confidence after securing their first Super League win of the season last week.

The Wolves saw off high-flying Leeds 25-14 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, with young half-back Declan Patton delivering a superb individual performance.

Tony Smith’s side will be hoping that win can be the start of a revival after a poor start to their league campaign, and will take heart from the fact that they won all four meetings against Widnes last season.

Widnes make a couple of changes to the 19-man squad that took on Wakefield Trinity last week with Keanan Brand, Tom Gilmore and Manase Manuokafoa being replaced by Greg Burke, Stefan Marsh and Chris Dean.

Joe Mellor retains his place in the squad with a starting spot looking likely.

Warrington are without Kevin Brown (concussion) and Mike Cooper (ankle) through injury, while Ben Westwood misses out through suspension.

With those three missing, Benjamin Julien and Andre Savelio return to the 19-man squad.

Both sides will be desperate for the points on Thursday night, as they seek to move away from the bottom of the Super League table.

Joe Mellor’s return to full fitness is a major boost for the Vikings as his pace will cause plenty of problems for the Wolves but the Viking’s defensive frailties are still a major concern.

Last week’s win over the Rhinos was a real morale booster for Warrington and if they can show the dame levels of quality and desire, they can come out on top in this basement battle.

Widnes Vikings: Tom Armstrong, Chris Bridge, Sam Brooks, Greg Burke, Jay Chapelhow, Ted Chapelhow, Danny Craven, Chris Dean, Gil Dudson, Alex Gerrard, Rhys Hanbury, Chris Houston, Jordan Johnstone, Stefan Marsh, Joe Mellor, Tom Olbison, Charly Runciman, Corey Thompson, Matt Whitley.

Warrington Wolves: Ryan Atkins, Daryl Cark, Brad Dwyer, Rhys Evans, Kurt Gidley, Chris Hill, Jack Hughes, Benjamin Jullien, George King, Toby King, Tom Lineham, Harvey Livett, Declan Patton, Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford, Matty Russell, Andre Savelio, Ashton Sims, Joe Westerman.

Prediction: Widnes Vikings 10-28 Warrington Wolves