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11th August 2017, 14:39 | super8

Warrington up for scrap - Patton

Warrington up for scrap - Patton

Declan Patton admits the threat of relegation has forced Warrington Wolves to dig deeper.

The Wolves lifted the League Leaders' Shield at the end of last season's Super 8s but this year are in a battle to retain their Betfred Super League status.

"We're all gutted to be in the Qualifiers," said young half-back Patton.

"We all wanted to be at the top and expected to be really. You kind of expect to win because you won it the year before. 

"We've got quite a few hard games and have a bounty on our head.

"We're playing top Championship sides and they're not going to lie down easily. None of these games are easy and we're not taking them lightly because we know what we're up against.

"We're probably working a bit harder now just to make sure we don't put ourselves in that Million Pound Game spot or a relegation spot."

Saturday's visitors Catalans Dragons are also in the Qualifiers for the first time while Leeds Rhinos went from champions to relegation candidates last year, when play-off regulars Huddersfield Giants finished bottom of Super League.

"You look at the other teams it's happened to and no-one can put their finger on why it has," added Patton.

"But Leeds have proved this year that you can bounce back from a bad season. Hopefully we should do that ourselves."

The 22-year-old, who has re-established himself in the Warrington side after a tough start to the year, scored a try as Tony Smith's men beat Widnes Vikings 28-14 in their Qualifiers opener.

The Dragons also made a winning start but were pushed all the way by Kingstone Press Championship side London as they carried their poor Super League form into the mini-league.

Patton is wary of the French outfit despite their struggles this season.

"They've got a really good squad with the players they've brought in," he said.

"They're a good side but Catalans being down there as well just proves how much the league has improved this year."

Saturday's other Qualifiers game sees Leigh Centurions host Hull KR in a meeting between two sides that traded places in 2016.

After the Centurions secured promotion to Super League in style against Huddersfield, Rovers were sent down by Salford Red Devils in dramatic circumstances in the Million Pound Game.

Hull KR finished top of the Championship to set up the opportunity of an immediate return to the top flight and will head to Leigh on the back of a hard-fought win over Halifax.

Tim Sheens' men were 23-10 winners at Leigh Sports Village in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup fifth round but the experienced Australian head coach insisted that would count for nothing this weekend.

"This is a different competition and both teams have moved a long way since then," said Sheens.

"We've both recruited new players and Leigh had some injuries that day as well, so there'll be some different faces.

"All we can take from that game against Leigh earlier in the season and the one against Salford is that we can compete at this level. 

"We're expecting Leigh to be big and physical. We've played against big teams in the Championship this season but Leigh will be fitter as you'd expect from a Super League team."