Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves lock horns tonight at the DW Stadium, with a place in the Super League Grand Final on offer for the winner. After St Helens became the first team to reach the showpiece event last night, a huge clash between the teams finishing second and fifth in Super League will determine who the other team is that reaches Old Trafford.
And with such a tight contest expected, the key battles all across the park could be absolutely enormous in deciding who wins. Whether it’s the battle of the full-backs, or even the forward tussles, there will be key moments all night long in front of a packed crowd.
But which three battles in particular could determine the side that advances to yet another Grand Final? TotalRL.com has picked out three in particular that we think will be enormous.
Half-back: Matty Smith v Gareth O’Brien
Smith has been in exceptional form all throughout 2014, earning a spot in the Super League Dream Team thanks to some incredible performances. And whilst the Wigan scrum-half has been relatively consistent all season, O’Brien has burst onto the scene in recent months, cementing a regular spot in Tony Smith’s side with some great performances.
Whichever half-back provides the best kicking game on the night could well have a big say in launching their team into the Grand Final – with O’Brien and Smith both carrying a huge weight on their shoulders going into the game.
Hooker: Michael McIlorum v Michael Monaghan
It’s the battle of the Michael’s at hooker, as Wigan’s McIlorum goes up against retiring Warrington hooker Michael Monaghan. The Australian knows the next time Warrington lose, his career will be over – and that seems to be bringing the best out of the Wolves co-captain in the play-offs. He’s been outstanding whilst working in tandem with Micky Higham, and will have a massive influence on Warrington’s destiny this evening. As for McIlorum, he continues to impress in 2014, and with a monstrous Wigan pack around him, he will be keen to show he’s good enough to play for England this Autumn.
Prop: Eddy Pettybourne v Chris Hill
Our third and final key battle takes place in the front row, as two of the best props in Super League square off tonight. Chris Hill’s form in 2014 has been so good that he has been shortlisted for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award by his peers, and he’s certain to be on the plane when England fly out to Australia later this month. Wigan’s Eddy Pettybourne suffered a couple of injuries at the beginning of the year that stunted his start at Wigan, but he’s come on strong in recent weeks, and seems to be timing his form to perfection just in time for the play-offs.