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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Wigan can wait says coach Ged

WHITEHAVEN will not be dreaming of their massive Carnegie Challenge Cup clash with Wigan ahead of their tough Bank Holiday Monday assignment against Leigh, reckons boss Ged Stokes.

Haven will travel to the JJB on Monday, May 12 (7.30pm) for their fifth round cup clash but first host the Centurions in a big NL1 match at the Recre.

“We are keeping the focus on the game to come,” the coach said. “The players need a good performance against Leigh to get in to the mix for the Wigan game.

“A good performance will secure a place in the team. A bad one and they will be looked at. You’re only as good as your last game.”

Stokes expects to select from a full-strength squad against Leigh, with young scrum-half Marc Bainbridge, left out of last week’s 36-10 defeat at Salford, back in contention.

Leroy Joe, now usually seen at loose-forward, played No 7 at The Willows, and the vastly-experienced Kiwi may return to the pack on Monday (3pm).

“I feel that Leroy does play better in the middle with his props from loose-forward,” the coach said. “We possibly had the wrong balance against Salford.

“When we play teams of that ilk, it’s like a tennis match, where the first to break serve usually wins the game.

“Salford went through the fundamentals very well and had a good kick-chase game. I was happy with the way we played in a lot of aspects.

“Our line defence was very good, and I don’t think they put us under a lot of pressure in terms of our line, but they capitalised on individual errors.”

Winger Craig Calvert notched his 100th Haven try against Salford, in only his 113th appearance, and Stokes is delighted with his contribution.

“Out of all the players, his confidence has come back 10-fold,” the coach said. “Both wingers are doing very well.”

The Wigan cup match was initially scheduled for Friday week, but with Wigan Athletic hosting Manchester United in a likely Premiership title decider two days later, the hosts opted to change dates to protect the JJB turf.

Haven will receive financial compensation for agreeing to the switch, and Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan thanked the club for its cooperation.

He said: “Our choices in priority order were at Orrell on Saturday afternoon, the JJB Stadium on Monday night, at another local club on Saturday afternoon or, finally, away at Whitehaven on Saturday.

“The RFL would have had to rule if agreement between the two clubs could not be reached.

“The Edge Hall Road Stadium at Orrell would have been a good compromise choice to host occasional fixtures of this nature but the shortage of time to deal with safety, traffic, parking and other issues and to consult properly with residents and other authorities eventually precluded this option.

“However, a great deal of useful time and effort has been invested during the past week which will be directed to attempt to bring Orrell up to the appropriate standard for occasional future matches.

“Another option open to the club to allow the fixture to be played locally was to play at Hilton Park in Leigh. The Wigan club would like to thank Leigh Centurions for their assistance when we investigated this option.

“Reversing the fixture to play it at Whitehaven was considered but the Wigan club, supported by the RFL, was keen to ensure that the game was played within the Wigan boundaries, as drawn, so that Warriors supporters could attend the game.

“Wigan Warriors would like to thank the Whitehaven board and officials for agreeing to the Monday night change, which is not ideal for either club, but is the best practical and financial compromise in these circumstances.”

Haven’s reserve-grade host Widnes on Saturday (2.30pm) fresh from last week’s heartbreaking defeat at Salford.

Dave Smith’s team led 13-12 until the 82nd minute, when a converted try sealed a home win.

Haven’s performance was all the more remarkable as on the bench they had two 16-year-olds, a player aged 17 and another 19.

David Ford was unavailable, due to a foot injury, forcing second-row Marc Shackley to prop. Shackley underwent an x-ray yesterday for a suspected broken thumb.

Salford had five first-team fringe players in their ranks, including ex-Haven loanee Stephen Bannister and Adam Sidlow, who impressed at Workington Town last term.

“Our defence was really solid, and Salford’s second and third tries were off kicks,” Smith said.

“Looking at the DVD, we couldn’t have defended them much better. The bounce of the ball was against us. But we have to take the positives out of it.”

John Lebbon and Marc Bainbridge touched down for Haven.

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