Widnes Vikings coach Denis Betts is expecting his side to secure a place in the fifth round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup as they prepare to face London Skolars in a fourth round tie at the New River Stadium on Sunday (3.00pm).
Betts fancies his side’s chances against their Championship One opponents but having watched the Vikings’ form slump since being granted Super League status in March, the former Wigan player is conscious that the on-pitch performance needs to improve quickly – or risk an unwanted exit.
“We’re lacking a bit of luck and lacking a bit of composure at the moment which is costing us in games,” said Betts. “On paper we’re in a bad run of form but our performances haven’t been that bad and if a few things had gone our way we might be looking better.
“But I believe we can turn it around and this is the best place to start. This is a game we need to win, we all want to progress and get as far as we can.
“I think our mental preparation will be key. They have some tough players and the game will be physical but we can deal with that, it’s getting into the right mental state that will be key for us.
“The Super League licence was the proverbial elephant in the room before the announcement but since then, the pressure has been on the players because they all want to show they deserve a Super League contract. That can be tough for them and the reality is that all the preparing and planning for the licence has drained a little from the club this season.”
Betts has a great record in the Challenge Cup as a player, having won seven out of eight finals he played in with Wigan but says his experience on the pitch doesn’t count for much when it comes to influencing the game from the sidelines.
“I have a lot of experience from my playing days and I played in eight finals and won seven,” he said. “But playing in front of 80,000 at Wembley and winning isn’t something you can relate to in preparation for a game in front of a thousand spectators, so it’s not really something I can use for the players at this stage.
“Skolars is a tough place to travel to and it’s a long trip which can sometimes affect the players so we’ll need to be focused.
“But I’m expecting my team to win, there’s no denying that and then hopefully we’ll get a good draw in the next round. I don’t fancy playing Wigan or Warrington, but we have to play whoever we draw.
“First we need to concentrate on the part under our control and beat Skolars on Sunday.”
Tickets for the Carnegie Challenge Cup fourth round contest between London Skolars and Widnes Vikings at the New River Stadium cost £12 adult and £6 concessions and can be purchased by calling 020 8888 8488.