Assuming we don't end up in the midst of another blizzard, tomorrow we'll be taking a trip to Belle Vue, where the Giants will take on Wakefield in our fourth game of the season. It'll be a tough game in likely terrible conditions, but can the Giants walk away with the win?
If you look at the table, you'd be forgiven for thinking this would be an easy Wakefield win, with Trinity currently sitting 3rd with 3 wins in 3 games, with a game in hand over 2nd-placed Wigan. The Giants, on the other hand, sit 10th, with just one win from the opening 3 fixtures. But it's worth remembering that our losses came at the hands of Hull and St Helens, two sides many are tipping for big things; while Wakefield have only had to overcome Hull KR, Salford and Catalans, three sides that will do very well to escape the bottom 4 this season. Add to that the fact that they've only managed 2-point wins over the latter two, and things look a lot more interesting.
Of course, Wakey will still be slight favourites for the tie, if nothing else it's a very tough ground to get the win at. Last year we won both of their visits to the John Smiths but narrowly lost the away tie. And in January, in similarly arctic conditions, the two sides ground out a very close contest with Wakey emerging 26-22 winners. So where do both teams stand?
The St Helens game was a frustrating experience. We spent the majority of the game within 20m of their try line and came away the losers. On the one hand, the Saints defence was pretty good, but at the same time we didn't look like scoring. This is something that's plagued the Giants for a while now, and I used to put it down to poor last-tackle plays, but to be honest that's something we've improved on. We were forcing repeat sets (I think I counted 6 in a row at one point) and should have really been getting over, but it felt as if we were lacking that x-factor. It'll come, as our new halfback combo starts to gel, and the likes of Mamo and McGillvary get back to their best after lengthy periods on the sidelines.
There are two changes in the squad from last week, with Sam Wood replacing the injured Adam Walne, and Tom Symonds set to potentially make his first appearance for the Claret and Gold in 11 months, stepping in for Colton Roche who's taken a month's loan at York.
What's interesting here is that with two forwards dropping out and only one coming in, there's only 10 in the entire squad, this is a pretty strong indication that Rick expects Symonds to be in with a real shot. It'll take some time for him to return to his best after such a lengthy absence, but getting some gametime in will be great to see, as he was such an asset for us when he signed late in 2016.
Of course we could see Sam Wood make his way into the squad too, either replacing a current back, or starting from the bench. In our pre-season interview, he talked about the possibility of playing in the second row, this could be his chance to give it a shot! Sam's a good finisher, in fact his tries-per-game record last year was bettered only by Jerry and Mamo, so he could be a very smart inclusion given our struggles to get over the line last week.
Our key man will be Jake Mamo. Jake's had a few basic errors in his opening games and will be looking to return to his best form. Once he gets there, the tries will come. His link-up play last year was outstanding after he started to find his feet, he helped create plenty of tries, and even scored 12 of his own in his 9 games. It took about 4 games last season for him to hit his stride, so hopefully his best is yet to come.
Make no mistake, we weren't making excuses when we mentioned the teams Wakey have faced this year; 3 wins are still 3 wins, and there are no games to be taken for granted in Super League this season. Plus, momentum is a powerful thing in Rugby League and Trin are on a roll right now. They've got some monstrous forwards, with Anthony England in particular looking strong in our preseason game, and they've been slowly building a very capable squad over the past few years.
Their key man will be Mamo's opposite number - and the man he replaced at Fartown - Scott Grix. Grixy has been in great form since his move to Wakefield and was instrumental in their preseason defeat of the Claret and Gold.
Where will the game be won
It's going to be cold. Bloody cold. If Jerry and Mamo can bounce back from injuries and match up to the form of Grix and Johnstone, we're more than capable of walking away with the two points. With so many injuries (and loans) our pack isn't at its strongest, it'll be a struggle for our forwards to match up to England, Fifita and co, but if they can perform half as well as they did against Warrington, we'll be in with a good shot.