The Qualifiers Preview: Widnes v Featherstone (Sun)

Widnes take on Featherstone on Sunday for the first time in six years as the two go head-to-head in The Qualifiers.

The Vikings will be hoping for better than their two late season meetings back in the Championship in 2011, when Rovers, then coached by Daryl Powell, won by 40 points on both occasions.

Denis Betts’ men ended their losing streak with a steady win at Halifax last weekend, while Featherstone earned their first ever points in The Qualifiers, a draw at London Broncos.

That result has come at a cost for Rovers coach John Duffy, a former Widnes player.

Frankie Mariano (back), Andy Bostock (knee), Chris Ulugia (shoulder) and Jason Walton (knee) have all been ruled out of the Super 8s contest, with Daniel Igbinedion also missing out.

The sidelined quartet have this week undergone scans to reveal the full extent of their injuries – and results will become known early next week.

Ulugia suffered a dislocated shoulder in the act of scoring a vital last-minute try, as Featherstone recorded a 32-all draw at London last time out.

Bostock was helped from the field in the same fixture and Mariano is suffering with a back injury sustained on the Broncos’ Trailfinders surface, while a shoulder injury continues to be monitored for three-quarter Walton.

After a season beset by injury, Widnes are able to name virtually the same squad as last week, with the only change being Alex Gerrard coming in for Jay Chapelhow.

Squads:

Widnes: Bridge, Buchanan, Burke, Cahill, Craven, Dudson, Gerrard, Hanbury, Houston, Johnstone, Manuokafoa, Marsh, Mellor, Olbison, Runciman, Thompson, Walker, White, Whitley.

Featherstone: Hardman, Taulapapa, Briscoe, Briggs, Thackeray, Griffin, Carlile, Davies, Moore, Tagg, Turner, Wildie, Johnson, Lockwood, Hardcastle, Brooks, Farrell, Ormondroyd, Baldwinson.

Prediction:

Widnes will be too strong, especially at home – Vikings by 22.

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