Wakefield v Huddersfield key battles

There’s a West Yorkshire derby to look forward to on Sky Sports on Friday night, with Wakefield hosting Huddersfield.

Trinity are flying high, with three wins from three and only sitting off the top of the Super League table on points difference. The Giants, though, have lost two from three and are down in 10th place.

What will decide this one? Here’s three head-to-heads:

Tom Johnstone v Jermaine McGillvary

If you want to watch a man in form this weekend, look no further than Wakefield’s Tom Johnstone. What a talent he is. Four tries in his opening three games has him top of the Trinity charts and just one behind the Super League leaders Liam Marshall and Krisnan Inu. And he likes a spectacular score.

His hat-trick against Hull KR featured the winger’s trademark – a flying finish in the corner. And Johnstone was at it again against Catalans, darting down the touchline from long range for an important score. It’s a great return after spending 10 months out with a knee injury having been missing since May last season.

Johnstone carries well. He’s notched up 480 metres from 52 carries at an eye-watering 9.23m per drive. There’s 20 tackle busts in there as well, double the next Wakefield back – Bill Tupou. Johnstone will hoping to be catch the eye of Wayne Bennett this season and looks to be making up for lost time in 2018.

Wakefield Trinity vs Huddersfield Giants

March 2, 2018, 7:30pm

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One of the men in Johnstone’s England wing position will come up against him on Friday night. And after Jermaine McGillvary’s World Cup, he’s going to take some shifting. The Huddersfield flyer caught the eye down under, scoring seven tries in England’s run to the final.

Injury stopped him from continuing that form immediately in Super League in 2018, but McGillvary returned to the pitch for the first time since that World Cup final against St Helens last weekend. There was no comeback try, but he did carry for over 100 metres from his 16 carries.

A powerful winger, McGillvary is another man who knows his way to the whitewash. But, while Johnstone specialises in the flying finish, McGillvary is just as adept at smashing through his opponents from close range. He’s top scored in the last four Super League seasons for the Giants. Expect to see McGillvary among the competition’s best again in 2018.

Jacob Miller v Danny Brough

Wakefield have started the season on fire once again, as they chase another Super 8s finish. And they’ve got a lot to thank their half-back Jacob Miller for. He’s provided the joint-most try assists in Super League so far, creating five four-pointers. That’s only matched by Ben Barba, St Helens’ star man.

Miller has formed a strong partnership with Liam Finn in the halves, the pair providing Trinity with two playmaking options, capable of kicking and passing a team around the park. And they are blessed with plenty of firepower outside them to unleash.

With the scorching pace of Tom Johnstone and Ben Jones-Bishop on the wings, Miller and Finn know there’s plenty of opportunity to create out wide. And Miller has an eye for the line himself, scoring once this season and crossing 10 times in total in the last campaign. The half-back has finally found his feet in Super League, having struggled with Hull FC, and Wakefield are reaping the full rewards.

Opposite Miller is a man who knows Super League inside out. Danny Brough is more than capable of orchestrating a game in his side’s direction, manoeuvring teams around the park with his lethal left foot. Now 35, Brough is out of contract at the end of the season, but head coach Rick Stone has already admitted a one-year deal could be in the pipeline. And the scrum-half has plenty to prove in 2018.

He was sent home from Scotland’s World Cup squad following drunken behaviour and, when everyone is fit, Brough will have Jordan Rankin and Lee Gaskell to see off for his place in the first team. The former Man of Steel has a try and an assist to his name in 2018, having created 22 scores in 2017. Brough is still central to everything Huddersfield do, and if their form is to improve, they need the half-back to step up.

David Fifita v Ukuma Ta’ai

There’s plenty of power in Wakefield’s pack in 2018. They signed Pauli Pauli from Newcastle Knights, while David Fifita is still on the books. And the front-rower has shone in the first three rounds. Fifita has the most metres of any Trinity forward so far, notching up 384m from his 50 carries at an impressive 7.68m per drive.

He also works hard in defence, putting in 80 tackles so far. And check out the prop forward’s try from the win over Catalans. Fifita stormed through the Dragons’ defence and, despite being halted several metres out, still regained his feet to crash over the line.

He’s popular among the Wakefield fans, providing an X-factor to their forwards. It’s imperative that Fifita, along with fellow front-rowers Anthony England, Pauli Pauli and Craig Huby, gets the team on the front foot to help unleash the flying outside backs. So far so good in terms of Chris Chester’s game plan in that respect!

Fifita will face his fellow Tongan front-rower on Friday night in Ukuma Ta’ai. The former New Zealand Warrior is now into his sixth season with Huddersfield and featured in the World Cup for Tonga as they reached the semi-finals of the competition. That earned Ta’ai a few extra weeks’ rest, but he’s still hit the ground running in 2018. He’s the top metre-maker among the forwards, putting in 315 metres so far from his 42 carries.

And that’s earned Ta’ai an impressive 7.50m per drive, the second best in the forwards. He’s crossed for a try already this season, having notched up five last season. Ta’ai can slot into the front row, back row and loose forward positions when called upon, but Rick Stone has used him as his starting prop forward in all three games this season. Plenty of go-forward needed then, but Ta’ai has plenty of power. Expect him to continue his good start on Friday night.

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