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Every club’s best Super League campaign

Super League captains

Throughout Super League history 23 teams have competed in the competition to varying degrees of success. Some have dominated the league since its inception, others have been a constant mid-table presence whilst some have yo-yoed in and out of the top tier. It’s fair to say that every club has had its highs and lows in the last 25 years, so today we’re looking at every club who has played in Super League and identifying their best campaign in the competition.

Bradford: 2003

Treble winners. What more needs to be said, this was Brian Noble’s Bradford at their absolute peak, no one could touch them at this point in time and they were simply unstoppable in their quest for silverware. After edging a brilliant Challenge Cup Final, the Bulls dominated the latter half of the season wrestling top spot from the fast-starting Rhinos before wrapping up Super League glory against Wigan at Old Trafford.

Castleford: 2017

It could be said that this was Castleford’s best ever campaign, not just in Super League. The Tigers played some exhilarating rugby thanks to outstanding performances from Luke Gale, Zak Hardaker and Greg Eden and secured the League Leaders’ Shield by 10 points having amassed 25 league wins from 30 games. It should have been their first ever title win as well but a disappointing Grand Final performance denied them.

Catalans: 2021

A similar story unfolded for Catalans in 2021. The Dragons were the best team in the league by far beating St Helens twice and romping to victory over the likes of Wigan. Brilliant to watch and ruthless down the middle of the pitch, they made it all the way to Old Trafford on the back of finishing top only for St Helens to deny them.

Crusaders: 2010

The Welsh side were a remarkable story and expanded Super League’s pool of teams outside of England in a positive move for the game. Unfortunately, it all fell through in 2011 but in 2010 there was real promise when they finished inside the play-off places after a rollercoaster of a season even beating reigning Champions Leeds in their own backyard.

Gateshead: 1999

Gateshead Thunder only enjoyed one season in the league before financial issues dictated that they merge with Hull Sharks. That said, it was a successful season on the field as they finished sixth with 19 wins and one draw from 30 games.

Halifax: 1998

A year earlier, a side now firmly associated with the Championship enjoyed success in Super League. In the first eight years of the competition Halifax were an ever-present before relegation ended their association with the league in 2003. But five years earlier Halifax had been a genuine contender finishing third just two points behind second-placed Leeds. Things sadly didn’t go to plan for the Fax in the play-offs.

Huddersfield: 2013

The Giants were at their best under Nathan Brown and Paul Anderson from 2009-15. During this time, the Giants were a genuine contender and an ever-present in the play-offs. But things unquestionable peaked in Anderson’s first year in charge as the Giants finished top of the pile.

Hull FC: 2016

For Hull FC there were three main contenders: 2006, 2016 and 2017. In 2006 they got all the way to the Grand Final, whilst in 2016 and 2017 they came close to Old Trafford on the back of Wembley success. In the end I’ve elected to go for 2016 because they very nearly finished top despite their eventual third-place finish and were at times the best team in the league which is not something you could say about them in 2006.

Hull KR: 2009

This remains Hull KR’s highest ever finish. The Robins secured a top four place thanks to a brilliant season in which they beat the likes of St Helens and Wigan and enjoyed spells at the Super League summit. 2021 was a close contender but the Robins were just that bit better in 2009 as seen by their impressive fourth-place finish.

Leeds: 2004

I could’ve quite easily picked the treble-winning campaign of 2015 here but ultimately I’ve elected not to. That iteration of the Rhinos secured nine less league points despite playing two extra games and therefore weren’t quite at the level of this Leeds side week to week. In 2004, Leeds lost just two league games, were unbeaten at home in the league, scored over a thousand points and finished top at a canter before ending a 32-year wait for Super League glory thanks to a Grand Final win over Bradford.

Leigh: 2017

Leigh have only ever enjoyed three seasons in Super League all of which have ended in relegation, but in 2017 they could count themselves seriously unlucky. The Centurions didn’t finish bottom in the regular season and finished fourth in the Qualifiers before a heart-breaking Million Pound Game defeat to Catalans sent them down. This was after they’d beaten the likes of Wigan and Warrington during the regular campaign.

London: 1997

In Super League’s second season the team from the capital showed their potential with a second-place finish behind Champions Bradford losing just four games. It’s a shame the Broncos couldn’t kick on from here.

Oldham: 1996

In 1996, Oldham looked like a stable side finishing as high as eighth winning nine of their 22 games securing survival with relative ease but that wasn’t the case the following year when a disappointing season ended their association with Super League after four wins from 22 games.

Paris Saint Germain: 1997

1997 might have been their last in Super League but their record was actually superior to 1996. They won six games in 1997 compared to three the previous year, but ultimately they again finished 11th as their time in the league ended.

Salford: 2019

The Red Devils secured their highest ever Super League finish in 2019 as they wrapped up third place. From there they did the impossible beating Castleford and Wigan on their way to a first ever Grand Final to give Salford fans a year they’ll never forget.

Sheffield: 1998

Sheffield’s highest Super League finish may have come in 1996 in the shape of seventh, but two years later they finished just one place below that after winning the Challenge Cup in a remarkable upset against Wigan.

St Helens: 2006

All-conquering. No one could stop this St Helens team. They won 24 of their 28 league fixtures as they went onto finish top by eight points after winning the Challenge Cup against Huddersfield. From there, they cruised to Grand Final glory thanks to a thumping win over Hull FC at Old Trafford.

Toronto: 2020

The Wolfpack only enjoyed one season in Super League and it ultimately proved an ill-fated venture when the pandemic mixed with financial issues ended their season before the league resumed again after lockdown. They finished their time at the top winless and we were left wondering what might have been.

Wakefield: 2009

This was as simple as 2009 v 2017. In both seasons Trinity finished the season in with a fifth-place finish which still remains their highest finish in Super League. Both were littered with famous wins as well, and in 2017 Trinity were a whisker away from the top four and the semi-finals but end of season defeats ultimately denied them. That said, in 2009 they boasted a superior record with 16 wins from 27 compared to 16 from 30 as in 2017.

Warrington: 2011

One of the few teams to score over a thousand points in a single Super League season, the Wolves were at their absolute best in 2011 under Tony Smith playing some mesmeric rugby. They put 82 points on Leeds as they did the league double over the Rhinos and wrapped up the League Leaders’ Shield in style late in the season thanks to a thumping win over Wigan in Round 26. They’d have made deserving Super League Champions.

Widnes: 2014

In both 2002 and 2014 Widnes won exactly half of their league games – the drew one in 2014 effectively making it 13.5 wins out of 27. This stands as their best win percentage in Super League topping their record in 2016 which saw them claim seventh place. Ultimately, I’ve elected to go for 2014 because the Vikings made their first play-off appearance that year after a hard-fought campaign.

Wigan: 1998

Wigan have had a strange relationship with Super League success. Their most successful year in terms of trophies came in 2013 after a fourth-place finish and their title wins since have always come on the back of second-place finishes and inconsistent seasons. That said, their first two title wins came in campaigns in which they were the dominant force in 1998 and 2010 meaning this came down to picking between the two. Ultimately 1998, due to the fact they only lost twice in the league both times against a brilliant Leeds side who finished second before Wigan beat them in the Grand Final, has to be considered Wigan’s best Super League season.

Workington: 1996

Workington only played one season in Super League, the very first for that matter, and sadly it was a disaster as they won just two games, finished bottom and were relegated. Perhaps one day we’ll see them return but for now they share a disappointing and brief history with Super League.

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