Friday night is Giants night (except when it snows), and this week, the Claret and Gold are iPitch-bound as they take on the Widnes Vikings. With just one win from the opening four games, the Giants are yet to claim any points away from home, so they head to Widnes knowing that the pressure is mounting
On paper, this probably seems like the most winnable fixture of our opening 5 games. The three teams to beat us so far have one loss between them, and while Widnes may sit in the top 4 of the Super League, with us down at 10th, they do so just two points ahead of us with an extra game played. Friday's game will be an interesting marker of where we're at as a club; while there are no easy fixtures in Super League, and any team can beat another on their day, this is a game we really should be expecting to win.
I won't dwell too much on the Wakefield game as it's nothing that hasn't been said after the other two losses. We started strong, kept pressure on, didn't score, gave up possession after 20 mins or so and let them score. I'm tired of typing it, you're tired of reading it.
We've got 3 changes going into this game, as Mellor, Dickinson and Bruno come in for Symonds, Turner and Smith. I didn't expect Symonds to feature this week, following his first game back it's smart to rest him for a week while he's getting back to full fitness, especially when we're playing on the dreaded plastic pitch. For that same reason, I don't think it's likely Bruno will take his spot in the side, he's too important to our plans going forward to return from injury on the notoriously poor surface. Mellor is also back from injury, but I doubt the lack of grass will be a worrying factor for a hand injury, so I'd expect him to take Symonds' place on the bench. In the props, I'd be very surprised to see anything other than a straight Smith-Dickinson swap
Turner is ineligible this week following a concussion check in the Wakey game, meaning we'll most likely see Sam Wood back in the side. I'm a big fan of Sam's, he went really well in preseason and will no doubt be taking this opportunity to fight for his spot. Personally, I'd stick him on the right next to Jerry and move Gaskell to the left, as I think both players are better suited that way. Last year Sam spent 4 games in the right centre spot, less than half his total appearances, yet scored 4 out of his 5 tries there. Eagle-eyed fans may have noticed we've got a problem with scoring this year, getting some points on the board would be good to see
Our key man will be McGillvary. We desperately need to start scoring points and if there's anyone in a Giants top who's capable of that, it's Jerry.
Widnes surprised Super League the week before last by demolishing champions Leeds; half way into their visit to the DW last week they looked ready to do the same again, before "doing a Fartown" and conceding 32 unanswered points. They know the ins and outs of that pitch and know how to win there. Their form so far has been better than ours so they will see this game as theirs for the taking
While our backs have been fairly quiet, Krisnan Inu has had a great first month with his new club, and will be the Vikings' key man
Where will the game be won
With Widnes losing the plot at half time last week, and the Giants doing that on a weekly basis, it will come down to who can hold their nerve the longest. If either side can pull off an 80-minute performance, they'll take the rewards.