Whitehaven must give an 80-minute performance at Newcastle on Sunday to maintain their three-point lead in League One.

Recent home performances have been half-and-half affairs, with Haven doing enough over the second period to win.

Sunday’s win against Coventry Bears was a typical example with Whitehaven trailing 14-8 at the break before hitting back to win 32-18.

That was not the performance of potential title winners, and coach Gary Charlton described it as “very poor.”

He knows that a similar display in the north east on Sunday would be fatal against a side who drew 12-12 at the Recreation Ground a few weeks ago.

“We need to be a lot better than that because the only thing to feel pleased about was that we got the two points,” said Charlton.

That keeps Haven at the top, three points clear of Hunslet and then four, five, six and seven ahead of the others in the play-off positions.

The League One clubs are exactly halfway through their season with everyone having played ten.

But Whitehaven know they have four of the five teams in the play-off positions to meet away from home, starting with Newcastle.

By the same token they have three of the bottom five to play at home.

It’s a safe bet, too, that clubs in line for the end-of-season scramble for play-off places will be strengthening their squads in the next few weeks.

Sunday’s opponents Newcastle have already announced that Samoan international Matthew Wright will be joining them towards the end of the month.

It means Whitehaven won’t face the 28-year-old who has been capped seven times for his country.

Equally at home playing full-back, centre or wing, Wright has played more than 100 games in Australia’s NRL with Cronulla Sharks, North Queensland Cowboys and Manly Sea Eagles.