Breaking down the play-off race: Analysing Leeds Rhinos, Salford Red Devils and Castleford Tigers’ play-off hopes

There’s just three games and two weeks left of the Super League season and still we don’t know which six teams will make up the play-offs.

Currently Leeds sit fifth in the table but directly behind them are Salford and Castleford who are just one point worse off than the Rhinos.

Thus, the race to make the six is incredibly tight with Castleford currently outside the top six on points difference alone.

At this stage, any two of the three could make the top six whilst there’s a chance one of them could pip Catalans into the top four which would come with a home play-off game.

So, we’ve taken a look at each team’s last three games to assess where they’re likely to finish.

Catalans Dragons

Remaining Fixtures: Toulouse (A), Leeds (H), Wigan (A)

Breakdown: The Catalans Dragons have an interesting last three games. Their run in starts with a French derby against Toulouse which if the scenario was different at the bottom of the table could be a more difficult assignment but their French rivals are virtually relegated after back-to-back wins for Wakefield. Low on confidence, it seems unlikely that Toulouse would be able to defeat Catalans who are in desperate need of a win. Their game against Leeds could be much more difficult especially given the last time they played they suffered a huge psychological blow. It’s a question of whether they can get over that to achieve revenge and virtually wrap up fourth spot. Defeat would leave the door open for Leeds to sneak into the top four especially with a difficult last game against Wigan in which the Warriors may need a win to wrap up second-place and a home semi-final with Huddersfield breathing down their necks.

Prediction: The Dragons are in some bad form and even the return of some key players recently hasn’t stifled that. They’ll likely beat Toulouse on Thursday but they’re unlikely to get wins against their play-off rivals if they keep playing the way they are.

Points from the last three games: 2 Total points: 30

Leeds Rhinos

Remaining Fixtures: Huddersfield (H), Catalans (A), Castleford (H)

Breakdown: Leeds perhaps have the hardest fixtures over the two-game weekend as they take on third and fourth in the league table. Both are difficult games and the Rhinos will know that they’ll have to win at least one of those games if they want to nail down a place in the top six whilst they must win both if they want to sneak ahead of Catalans into the top four. Their final game of the season could virtually be a play-off game as it could be a case of winner takes a spot in the play-offs as they face rivals Castleford who are still in the hunt for a spot in the top six.

Prediction: Though Leeds could still make the six with just a win over Cas should results go their way, realistically they’ll need to beat one of Huddersfield and Catalans to really secure their place in the top six. But given their recent form you’d expect them to do so and their form also suggests they’d have the beating of Castleford in the final round too.

Points from the last three games: 4 Total Points: 29

Salford Red Devils

Remaining Fixtures: Hull FC (H), Castleford (A), Warrington (H)

Breakdown: Salford keep defining the odds, so it stands to reason that they could win all three of their final games. The big fixture of course is the game against Castleford at the Jungle. A win could virtually secure their place in the top six especially as they take on two teams with nothing to play for either side of that fixture in the shape of Hull FC and Warrington both of which are at home.

Prediction: Given Salford’s recent form defeating the likes of Huddersfield and Catalans with ease, they should have little trouble in downing strugglers Hull FC and Warrington over the next fortnight which itself could be enough to secure them a place in the top six. However, I also think they have the necessary momentum to defeat the Tigers in that crucial clash. Their scoring spree may well even see them be the ones to squeeze inside the top four.

Points from the last three games: 6 Total Points: 30

Castleford Tigers

Remaining Fixtures: Warrington (A), Salford (H), Leeds (A)

Breakdown: Castleford have started doing tough recently with a number of injuries and suspensions leaving their squad down to the bare bones. Their defeat to Huddersfield was a bitter blow and will stifle the Tigers of vital momentum. Though they should have enough on paper to beat the struggling Wolves, their season will defined by their games against play-off rivals Salford and Leeds.

Prediction: So, will they be able to beat either of their play-off rivals? Considering the form of both Salford and Leeds at present, you’d back them both to beat the Tigers and that may end their play-off hopes.

Points from the last three games: 2 Total Points: 26

Predicted Finish:

4. Salford 30
5. Catalans 30
6. Leeds 29
7. Castleford 26

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