Hull, Bradford and Wigan all
looking for big wins

Hull without stand-off Cooke

Hull coach John Kear has told his players not to surrender the chance to make third place in the engage Super League their own.

Warrington?s defeat at Huddersfield yesterday (Friday) has given the Black and Whites the chance to move clear in third when they play relegated Leigh on Sunday.

Hull were edged out 17-16 by London Broncos last week and Kear does not want any more slip-ups.

Kear said: "I?ve had an excellent response from the players after the London defeat and it was nothing more than I would expect from this group of people.

"Leigh pose a threat because the pressure is off them now. They?ll be able to try new combinations and partnerships and throw in some youth.

?They?re very dangerous and I certainly think that they?ve improved over the course of the season. I would expect them to come back up if they keep the same group of players together.?

Kear admits it is hard for attention not to drift towards the Powergen Challenge Cup final in a fortnight but is trying to keep the team focused on the immediate task.

"Regardless of the final coming up we need two Super League points,? he said.

?We have big games against Leigh and Wigan that we must win. We?re third on merit and if we win every game between now and the end of the season we?ll finish third, which is our target position.

?We can?t rely on other sides to help us out and we know what we have to do."

Hull are without in-form stand-off Paul Cooke due to an eye injury but winger Nathan Blacklock returns.

Leigh, who have accrued just five points all season, were condemned to relegation after a 74-0 thrashing by Leeds last week and are playing for pride.

Hull FC v Leigh Centurions, KC Stadium, Sunday August 14 2005

Hull 18-man squad: Briscoe, Blacklock, Yeaman, Raynor, Dowes, Swain, King, McMenemy, Kearney, Tony, Thackray, Saxton, Carvell, Brough, Dixon, G. Horne, Whiting, Lee.

Leigh 18-man squad: Cooper, Fleary, Govin, Jackson, Kent, Wilkes, Leafa, Maden, Rowley, Smyth, Stapleton, Sturm, Wilshere, Owen, J. Duffy, Stevens, Mears, Coleman.

Referee: S P Ganson

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Bulls' injuries are easing

Bradford Bulls will have drawn encouragement from Warrington?s defeat on Friday night and will look to move into fourth when they take on Salford at Odsal.

However, the Bulls were pushed all the way by the Reds ? who are not yet clear of relegation ? in a hard-fought 24-18 win at The Willows last month.

?They played very well that night,? said Bulls coach Brian Noble. ?We had run up a big score against them earlier in the season but that was more like the Salford we expected to face.

?Mathematically they are not out of the relegation mire yet and I don?t expect them to be relegation candidates, but they will be desperate for the points this week to stave off any lingering doubts.?

With Lesley Vainikolo and Shontayne Hape now back in action after lengthy absences, Bradford continue to return to strength.

Joe Vagana (knee) and Jamie Langley (calf) are pushing for places and second row Brett Ferres is also in contention.

The Reds have lost second row Mark Shipway with a groin injury but winger Tony Stewart (arm), who has been pushing for a place in recent weeks, is set to return. Kevin McGuinness remains on the sidelines.

Bradford Bulls v Salford City Reds, Odsal Stadium, Sunday August 14 2005

Bradford 20-man squad: Vainikolo, Deacon, Ferres, Fielden, I. Harris, Withers, Johnson, Lynch, B. Harris, Parker, L. Pryce, Peacock, Paul, Vagana, Langley, Hape, Reardon, Meyers, Radford, Henderson.

Salford 20-man squad: Hodgson, Smith, Littler, McAvoy, Fitzpatrick, Beverley, Robinson, Rutgerson, Alker, Langi, Coley, Stewart, Charles, Brocklehurst, Haggerty, Baldwin, Highton, Sibbit, Stringer, Hartley.

Referee: R Laughton

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Millward expects tough clash

Widnes Vikings must defeat play-off chasing Wigan to realistically retain any hope of surviving the drop in engage Super League and Warriors coach Ian Millward believes they will be tricky opponents at the Halton Stadium.

Millward said: ?Widnes will be a tough game, they have former Wigan players in their ranks, it?s a local derby and they have come off a big loss, so that?s three reasons why they need to improve.

?The next two games will determine if we are to make the play-offs, we have to beat both Widnes and Hull to make the top six.

?If we can win this game and beat Hull, especially as Hull have the Challenge Cup the following week, then we have a chance.?

Former Great Britain centre Gary Connolly is pushing for a Widnes return against his old club.

Connolly has not played since limping out of the Powergen Challenge Cup quarter-final defeat against Toulouse in June with a thigh injury.

Gary Hulse (ankle) may also prove his fitness for a game the Vikings must win. John Stankevitch (shoulder) is now out for the season and Aaron Moule (ankle) is unlikely to play before the last two games.

Jules O?Neil, Terry O?Connor, Mark Smith and Mick Cassidy are also set to play against their former club.

Wigan Warriors have a doubt over forward Harrison Hansen, who suffered a deep cut to the leg in last week?s game against Salford.

Frenchman Jerome Guisset is back in contention but Wayne Godwin is not ready to return and Liam Botham?s shoulder injury has ended his season.

Hooker Terry Newton continues despite Millward?s admission that he needs hip surgery.

Widnes Vikings v Wigan Warriors, The Halton Stadium, Sunday August 14 2005

Widnes 18-man squad: Connolly, Hughes, Myler, O'Connor, J. O'Neill, Cassidy, Finnigan, Hulse, Frame, Mills, Smith, Whittle, Nash, Viane, Alcock, J. O'Neill, Watts, Kerr.

Wigan 18-man squad: Dallas, Aspinwall, Carney, Orr, Moran, Seu Seu, Newton, Hargreaves, Tickle, Hansen, Wild, Sculthorpe, Beswick, Gleeson, Tomkins, Allen, Brown, Goulding.

Referee: I Smith

Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for the above previews

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