View from the terraces: Our expert fans preview Widnes’ clash with Warrington

Widnes Fan: Martin Birrell

Well after two games what do we know about the Vikings of 2018? A comfortable victory in round one over the Dragons was last week followed up by a defeat at Castleford by the narrowest of margins. So the early signs look good.

I am a big admirer of how the club has approached our return to the top flight. The club has looked to build a strong academy system with a focus on growing our own talent as well as developing those players that we have brought into the club from elsewhere. It is worth noting that in our starting 13 on Sunday 5 players had been through the clubs academy system. Additionally another five of our 17 man squad had been with the club since we returned to Super League in 2012. A sustainable model that takes time to bear fruit.

What of the youngsters? Danny Walker is a player we saw glimpses of last season and he’s started the new campaign strongly with a great performance at the Jungle on Sunday. Olly Ashall-Bott made his debut and showed why many think he will be a big talent in the future as well. Throw into the mix those that have already established themselves in the first team such as Jay Chapelhow and Matty Whitley and you can see why many fans think the future looks rosy in WA8.

Whilst its been a positive start to the season we are keeping our feet on the ground. This Friday against our nearest and dearest will be yet another test of character. With a short turn around how will the Vikings begin to repel the wounded Wolves? I feel this is a game where our pack will have to stand up to the test and how much will Sunday have taken out of the boys? For what it’s worth I’m expecting a tight game but the bit of extra time to prepare just about seeing the Wolves home but it could easily go the other way.

Score Prediction: Widnes 12-19 Warrington

Warrington Wolves fan: Peter Thomas

It’s already beginning to feel like it could be a very long season for Warrington and two games in there is already discourse in the fan base. Something’s not right. I’m not renowned for my levels of optimism, but I think it might be safe to say, especially looking at other teams in the league, that this might not be Warrington’s year after all.

But we’re only two games in, so what’s the worry? Easy, the worry is based on the two performances. Granted the Wire didn’t have a bad game against Leeds and they were playing the champions, but they didn’t have a great game either. There were some poor plays both in defence and attack. Fast forward another week and the Wire met the Giants on a typical February night in Huddersfield. The performance that night was a source of more concern. The lacklustre attack, and more errors in defence. Whether Price has had enough time to communicate his desired style of play to the team is debatable, but they’re clearly struggling. One glimmer of hope is that there are still players to return to the side, and new signings to fit in. It’s far too early to write off a season just yet, but not too early to be a little concerned.

Widnes are next up and for Warrington they’ve picked a bad time to play their derby. Not only are Warrington failing to click yet, but their opponents are in good form. They demolished the Dragons and ran the Tigers very close. Meaning that they’ll be buoyed by confidence and the Wire burdened by the need to get their first win. When you remember that next up after Widnes will be Wigan, the game at Widnes almost becomes a must win for the Wire to avoid a four-game losing streak to start their season.

Hopefully though Wire can hold their nerve and control the game, something that has been lacking. Roberts will hopefully return, and Brown will surely be looking to make a point. Elsewhere, Ratchford needs a solid game after two poor performances, for his own confidence if nothing else. The execution at the end of sets needs more dynamic fluidity and invention, and Wire need points.

Widnes will of course be looking to increase the pain for Warrington fans and the pressure on the team/coach. There will certainly be no quarter given on Friday night, nor should there be. The two teams that played a pre-season friendly not so long ago will look very different, and it my belief that on this occasion that Warrington will win, albeit only with a gargantuan effort.

Score Prediction: Widnes 14-18 Warrington