Rugby League - Smith galvanised by defeat

While Huddersfield wait to collect the league leaders' shield, their Super League title rivals will be jostling for play-off positions in the penultimate round of fixtures.

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Rugby League - Smith galvanised by defeat
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Tony Smith insists Warrington have renewed focus

Warrington can mathematically still catch the Giants but realistically will be seeking to tie up a top-three finish for a fourth consecutive year when they visit in-form St Helens on Friday.

The same goes for Wigan, who will field a virtual reserve team for their Challenge Cup final re-match with Hull, while Leeds can clinch a top-four finish for the first time for three years when they host Catalan Dragons.

Warrington will be boosted by the return of veterans Lee Briers, Adrian Morley and Garreth Carvell as they set out to atone for their shock home defeat by Widnes in their last match, although coach Tony Smith believes there was a silver lining to that loss.

"It was certainly a bad day at the office but it was good for us," Smith said. "You don't feel that at the time but sometimes those kicks in the backside are what you need.

"We played it in conditions that aren't going to be so dissimilar to some of the games coming in the next couple of months, weather-wise.

"We hurt for a day or two but then you get on with things and look forward to your next game. We are excited about playing Saints and putting some of those lessons into action."

The Wolves have won on both their previous visits to Langtree Park but Saints are on a roll with five straight wins and coach Nathan Brown has the added bonus of consistency of selection.

"They are playing solid rugby league from what I have seen in the last few matches," Smith said. "It has coincided with the return of some of their better players.

"At different stages there has been some criticism of Saints but that was largely due to having some of their best players or not."

Wigan coach Shaun Wane is putting his faith in the club's youngsters as the Cup holders look for only a third win in eight league matches.

Wane is resting a dozen members of his victorious Wembley line-up and admits: "If we can get two points from this, it will probably be one of our best wins of the year.

"We've got people who can't play because of injury and some who need a rest.

"We have 36 players and I want to see them all play. This is a great opportunity and I'm not going to miss it.

"It's given me a lift to see all the young kids running around and I'm excited to see how they cope with the pressure.

"I don't hand out jerseys easily. The players playing this weekend have earned them. I'm still really confident that the team we put out will get us a win."

Hull coach Peter Gentle has made four enforced changes to the side that produced a flat performance in a 16-0 defeat at Wembley and he is confident they can make amends.

"There's a real feel about 'let's get out there and set things right'," Gentle said.

"We need to learn from that game the other day. We had a good long look at it on Monday morning and we put it to bed.

"It wasn't pretty viewing but it was something we had to look at. We couldn't brush it under the carpet and pretend it never happened.

"We were honest with each other and then we lightened things up on the field after that."

Reigning champions Leeds are getting back to full strength as they approach the business end of the season.

The Rhinos expect to welcome back England internationals Danny McGuire, Ryan Bailey and Jamie Jones-Buchanan for the visit of Catalan Dragons, which would leave only Brett Delaney and Stevie Ward on the sidelines.

"It's good to have them back but it's going to be two or three weeks before they're match fit," said coach Brian McDermott.

The Dragons are still not guaranteed a home tie in the play-offs after winning only three of their last seven matches.

They have never won at Headingley but they are boosted by the return of prop Remi Casty, who missed his side's last match with a hamstring injury, while former Leeds full-back Brent Webb returns to Headingley for the first time since he ended his six-year stay at the end of last season.

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