Rugby Super League Play-Offs

TN23

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Its nearly time for the Super League Play-Offs, and I thought that as Rugby Union gets a page when the game moves more slowly (and definitely more violently!) than Neil Ruddock's exercise bike, then RL should have at least something:

There are still two issues left to resolve in Super League with one game to go- the League Leaders' shield is up for grabs. Warrington's 39-12 win over Wigan today puts them top by a point with a game to go, and hopefully Warrington can at least relieve one trophy from Wigan's grasp this year. This year's League Leaders shield will decide only on the visitors to Warrington and Wigan respectively- finishing first will mean that St Helens are avoided for the more ameanable task of Huddersfield in Round 1.

Also, there is a scramble just to get into those play-off places. The two Hull clubs (FC and KR) and Castleford are split by one point. Finishing outside the play-offs will be particularly gutting for Cas after an extra-time defeat in the Challenge Cup Semi to Leeds, and because they've occupied the play-off places for most of the season.

3rd and 4th are now safe for St Helens and Huddersfield, who both guarantee themselves two bites at the play-offs- but will start away at tough places, either Wigan or Warrington. Leeds and Catalans have also made the play-offs, but Leeds need to win away at Huddersfield next week to guarantee themselves 5th (which will mean that they have a crack at whoever finishes 8th at Headingley). Catalans have continued to impress, having held 5th for most of the season- but to lose it yesterday in a close home defeat to Hull KR. But, even though the Catalans are away (and will have support in their tens) at Salford, its a game the French side would expect to win.

Who will miss out? Well, Bradford offered so much promise in the first 60 minutes at the Millennium Stadium of being on the road back to the top, but the last twenty minutes of that game (They slumped from 28-10 up to a 32-28 defeat to Leeds) really showed how the rest of the season would go. Bradford will be fighting Salford for the meaningless 10th place. Harlequins will take 12th place, certainly not continuing in the spirit of London Broncos so far. Crusaders play their final game in Super League next weekend with an ominous visit to the DW Stadium to face Wigan, and will be looking to avoid the wooden spoon with Wakefield (after being dreadfully beaten on Friday at Headingley) hosting Bradford, in a winnable fixture, at Belle Vue.

This is how the first round of the play-offs looks right now:

1st (Warrington/Wigan) Vs 4th (Huddersfield)
2nd (Warrington/Wigan) Vs 3rd (St Helens)
5th (Leeds/Catalans) Vs 8th (Hull FC/KR/Castleford) LOSER WILL BE ELIMINATED
6th (Leeds/Catalans) Vs 7th (Hull FC/KR/Castleford) LOSER WILL BE ELIMINATED

The contenders

Outsiders- Catalans may have had a good season, but they are likely to fall short in the play-offs against better opposition. However, Catalans have a reputation for upsetting the odds, gained by their brilliant defeat of Wigan a few years ago in the Challenge Cup Semis. Could they do it again?

Whichever 2 of the 3 contenders (Hull, Hull KR and Castleford) succeed in sneaking into the final 8 will not be overly favoured with must-win games at either Headingley or in a hostile environment in Perpignan.

Despite finishing fourth, Huddersfield haven't got a reputation for winning things in the last few years. Huddersfield seem to be a little way short of the top three at the moment.

Dark Horses- Leeds may have been scratchy in the league this year, but with a Challenge Cup final they deserved to take to a replay at least and recent good form- Leeds have a chance. Furthermore, Leeds have the ability in their ranks. Sinfield, Burrow, Peacock, McGuire and Hall are the home-grown basis of this side, and added to international stars such as Webb, Leuluai and Buderus that have had big success before in the play-offs- Leeds can win the big games when everyone's fit and well.

Favourites- Many will favour defending champions and Challenge Cup Winners Wigan to succeed, especially with the exceptionally talented (and arrogant!) Sam Tomkins, their excellent kicker Pat Richards and many others including cup-winning try scorer Thomas Leuluai, and man of the match last week at Wembley Jeff Lima.

Warrington lead the league, and thumped Wigan today to boot, which will be a huge confidence booster. Briers and Morley will be there as ever, and the Monaghan brothers look in good form.

St Helens may have lost 4 straight Grand Finals, but that tells you that they have been right at the forefront for a good while now. Young Jamie Foster looks like he can kick anything thrown his way, and there are top players like Wellens, Lomax, Meli and Roby to score the tries to give Foster the opportunity to show his kicking prowess.

Who do I think will win? Hopefully Leeds will beat Wigan 28-18 just for revenge, but I have to be realistic and say that Wigan and Warrington are the favourites, and Leeds and St Helens will fall short at the semi-final stage.
 

F1Yorkshire

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Who do I think will win? Hopefully Leeds will beat Wigan 28-18 just for revenge, but I have to be realistic and say that Wigan and Warrington are the favourites, and Leeds and St Helens will fall short at the semi-final stage.

Only just spotted this thread! I do have to say your predictions were well off!

The mighty Rhino's won again! (5th time in 8 years) St Helens lost the final for the 5th season running.
 

F1Yorkshire

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I think it's time I updated the northern egg chasers trophy thread,

Tonight saw a clash of two of the finest teams in rugby league history. Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors..It was billed as a classic and it didn't disappoint. Leeds have won 4 of the last 5 super league titles and they were up against the winners of the 2012 league trophy.

The first half was a Leeds master class, they showed the quality only multiple title holders could have. After 40 mins the score was 11-0, if you want details check BBC or Sky!

The second half opened with a shock to Leeds, an early try put Leeds on the back foot. Bad refereeing decisions compounded the issue and Leeds were suddenly 12-11 behind.

More decisions went Wigan's way, most of them to the surprise of the sky commentary team but with 5 minutes to go Leeds made a break, they stormed into the Wigan half and got the decision they deserved. Sinfield stepped up and delivered a smooth penalty to make it 13-12 to Leeds, There were 3 minutes left on the clock, all Leeds had to do was hold the ball and the game was theirs, a little chip on 79:58 was enough to seal the win.

Bring on the final!
 

F1Yorkshire

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Such an amazing climax to the season. Leeds showed why then have dominated so much for the last 8 years, I'm still buzzing from the game, only got home an hour ago. The atmosphere was fantastic. The lads played well. The fans were amazing. Such a great feeling watching the boys pull it off again!

:D Rhino's!
 
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