NEW Wakefield Trinity Wildcats coach James Webster says his revitalised side believe they can defeat Leeds Rhinos tonight – despite conceding more than 100 points to their West Yorkshire rivals over two games earlier this season.
The Australian has overseen a three-game unbeaten run, including victories over London Broncos and champions Wigan Warriors and Sunday’s draw with Hull, since being promoted in place of Richard Agar a month ago.
Rather than fearing being dragged into the relegation mix, they are now anticipating making a push for the play-offs.
Leeds – who defeated Trinity 60-6 in the Challenge Cup at Belle Vue in April and 42-6 at Headingley the following week – will hope to douse their current fire but Webster insists they are not fearful.
“Our mentality is we are going out to win the game,” he said, with Wakefield in 11th spot. “We go into every game thinking we can win and why shouldn’t we?
“It is not lost on us that the last two times we played Leeds we were well and truly put to the sword.
“But some things have changed since then and we have got the belief that if we turn up with our best game we have got a chance of winning.
“We are also realistic enough to realise that if we don’t turn up really committed and play to our maximum potential there’s a chance it won’t be a great result for us.”
Leeds coach Brian McDermott is fully aware of the dangers Trinity now possess.
“They are a completely different beast,” he said.
“They have had a change of personnel, some new people in, some blokes back from injuries, they have some form behind them and a new coach.
“I am predicting a really tough encounter. We have had some tough encounters over at their place and it will be again.
“The last time we went there we were in great form and they weren’t. We caught them on a good day, but it won’t look anything like that this week.”
Leeds will go top if they win tonight – at least until current leaders St Helens face Hull KR on Sunday – yet they have been struggling for consistency of late and needed a last-gasp penalty to defeat Catalan on Sunday.