Wakefield Trinity v Hull FC: Top-eight future in our own hands, insists coach Chris Chester

WAKEFIELD Trinity head coach Chris Chester admits he has tried shielding his players from mounting pressure during the club's battle to secure a top-eight place.

They host Hull FC tomorrow knowing they still need one win from their remaining two regular rounds to be certain of avoiding the Qualifiers.

At one point, not long ago, Chester spoke publicly about still challenging for the top-four – they narrowly missed out on that last year when finishing fifth – but he still believes a top-eight spot would be a “fantastic” achievement.

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Asked if he would happily have taken this situation at the start of the year, going into their final home regular round knowing a win would cement their place, the former Hull KR chief said: “Yes, one hundred per cent.

Craig Huby.

“Look at the teams that were out (of the top four) last year.

“Warrington were struggling for form and have gone and spent a fair bit of money in pre-season.

“Wigan had an horrendous injury list last season. Both teams have really improved since but, listen, we’re still in a fantastic spot.

“A win takes us one point away from Hull FC (in fifth).

“I know I’ve been saying that for the last four weeks (but) I’ve tried to be as positive as I can in the press and tried to keep it away from the players.

“You got a sense after the loss against Catalans how hurt they were and you got a sense before the game against Leeds last week that they knew how important the game was going to be.

“We all now know that it’s back in our hands and we need to make sure we get a good result this weekend.

“If we do that then it’s a third consecutive year since I’ve been here that we’ve finished in the Super 8s which for a club like Wakefield is a great achievement.”

Wakefield drew 20-20 at Leeds after coming from behind to force a point against the struggling defending champions and they almost snatched victory with two drop-goal attempts narrowly going wide.

Before that, they had suffered a demoralising 35-18 home defeat against Catalans Dragons, a game many expected them to win, while a 34-30 loss at leaders St Helens was another agonising result in this current three game winless sequence.

Chester added: “If we can bottle that second 40 minutes against Leeds, then we’ll give ourselves a fantastic chance.

“Especially the way we controlled the game; our game management was fantastic – we kicked very, very well and showed a lot of patience with the ball.

“If we can do that and bring it to the start of the game then we have a fine opportunity on Sunday.

“We know the importance of the game – what a win will do and what a loss will do – but we’ve prepared pretty well hopeful of a good performance and result.”

Trinity make just one change, former Castleford prop Craig Huby back from a knee injury that has kept him sidelined for two months.

He replaces fellow front-row Anthony England and Chester said: “Engy’s been struggling now for three or four weeks.

“He’s had shoulder, neck, back, sternum (problems) so he’s probably going to have an extended break of a minimum of two weeks recovery.

“But we do welcome back Craig Huby and he will be involved in the 17.

“Chubbs offers us a little bit more to what we’ve got; he’s very, very good with the ball, has a fantastic offloading game as well and some real whack defensively which we’ve probably missed.”

Wakefield’s last win was a 44-22 success against Widnes Vikings on June 24.

Both Catalans and Huddersfield Giants have hit form at the same time leaving them all on 19 points before this round from sixth to eighth.

Chester admitted: “The guys have felt the pressure over the last few weeks.

“They were saying ‘Are we safe now?’ after we got that win against Widnes.

“I was telling them ‘Yeah, yeah, we’re safe.’ And then results went against us.

“But we can only control what we can do. We just want to get another win.”