Betts wants Wolves upset
Widnes Vikings coach Denis Betts believes the visit of in-form neighbours Warrington Wolves will provide his side with the perfect opportunity to end their losing streak.
The Vikings have been in the top eight of the First Utility Super League all year but are in serious danger of missing out on a first appearance in the play-offs after winning just one of their past eight matches and could find themselves as low as 10th after the weekend if results go against them.
The Wolves, on the other hand, are on a roll having won their past 10 league and cup matches to complete a dramatic turnaround following a slow start to the season.
"We saw Warrington search for that form at the beginning of the year but the players' and coaching staff's patience is really starting to bear fruit," Betts said.
"They're not doing much different now than then, it's just working for them now.
"It's going to be a tough test for us. You'd rather it that way for us this week, knowing that we've got to play better.
"We have worked hard to improve this week and the players know what I expect of them. They enjoy playing in these derby games, especially at home and we are looking forward to it."
If Betts' men need any encouragement, they will be able to draw on the experience of last season when they went into the derby at Warrington last August having won just two of their previous 11 matches but pulled off a stunning 16-6 triumph to end their opponents' nine-match winning run and end their own season on a high.
Wolves coach Tony Smith needs no reminding of that shock result - the Vikings did the double over their arch rivals in 2013 - and is warning his players to be wary of their struggling opponents.
"It's going to be a tough match against our local rivals - on a different pitch, after a short turnaround and they are probably not travelling as well as they would like to be at the moment," Smith said.
"But it's a challenge we look forward to. We've experienced some bad visits over there as well which makes you very wary about the way they can play.
"They have got some very capable players but the fear factor can be a good thing sometimes so we'll give them a healthy respect.
"They started the season well and since then have had some mixed fortune in terms of consistency and performances but they are a capable side. We will prepare for their best."
Like Widnes, Hull FC need to quickly kick-start their season if they are to secure a play-off spot as they prepare to take on reigning champions Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium.
Hull triumphed 34-33 in the corresponding fixture last season, a week after losing to them in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley, but were beaten 44-16 at home by an under-strength Warriors team in May.
The Black and Whites are seeking their first win in five games but Wigan coach Shaun Wane will not take them lightly.
"They've got some absolute quality in their team," Wane said. "But we're in a good place. Our form's quite good and we'll go into this game confident that we can put some sets together.
"If we put teams under pressure defensively, we normally come out on top. We just need to make sure we're in control of our performance and make sure that our attitude is good against a very talented Hull team."