Tim Sheens admits his Hull KR side must produce an improved defensive performance against Widnes Vikings on Saturday if they are to stand any chance of challenging for a top-eight finish in the Betfred Super League (Widnes EVS to win match, Draw 22/1, Hull KR 5/6 – match result).
The Robins will head into their final three fixtures of the regular season only with an outside chance of qualifying for the Super 8s, although their results have improved of late, as they are unbeaten in three games following a draw with Castleford Tigers and wins against Huddersfield Giants and Salford Red Devils.
Sheens has not been completely satisfied with KR’s recent improvement, however, as they have still been conceding a lot of points and he admits their defensive struggles will be the decisive factor if they ultimately miss out on a top-eight finish.
“We have leaked 25 points a game on average throughout the season. It’s just something we have to fix up. We have got to be better at it and defend for 80 minutes,” Sheens told the Hull Daily Mail.
“If we are going to do anything over the next few rounds and then in the eights we have got to be defending better.”
KR have made a particular habit of conceding early in games and Sheens knows they must be ready from the off when they visit the Select Security Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“We haven’t been scoring first and I don’t want us to be regaining our composure every week,” Sheens added. “It’s not so much starting quicker, it’s about defending better early on.”
A win over Widnes would certainly boost the Robins’ Super 8s chances heading into their final two games of the regular season against Warrington Wolves (11/2 to win 2018 Grand Final) on home soil and away to city rivals Hull FC (12/1), although they will also be relying on results from elsewhere.
Odds subject to change