This weekend, the regular 27 round season was concluded. St Helens lifted the League Leaders Shield, Toulouse played their last Super League game for at least a year and Leeds confirmed their play-off spot. This article looks back at the final round as well as its significance.
Leeds snatch victory from the jaws of defeat
Despite going into the game as overwhelming favourites, Leeds made it tough as they fought their way to 5th place and a game away to Catalans. For the first 50 minutes, both Leeds and Castleford looked cagey and completed sets at less than 50%. Castleford were the first to break the deadlock, as they went 2-0 up before a Mamo break made it 8-0 to the visitors. It was not enough to put Leeds to bed, and they converted a penalty before scoring two tries to break Castleford hearts and avoid an embarrassing, season-ending defeat. They now face a difficult trip to Catalans on Friday night, the same fixture that saw them beaten last weekend.
Salford to face former head coach Ian Watson in the first round of the play-offs
With their loss to Warrington and Leeds’ last-minute victory over Castleford, Salford finish in 6th and will travel to Huddersfield. Aside from the obvious links to the current Huddersfield side, this will be a huge game for Salford as they look to make a statement in the final stages of the season. Huddersfield will look to use their size in the middle as a counter to Salford’s exciting rugby, and it will be a real battle of two styles to decide who will be 80 minutes away from a Grand Final. Having rested almost the entire starting team on the final game of the regular season, much of Salford’s team will have had a week off, and so should be fresh for what is sure to be a hard-fought contest.
Valiant Castleford fall at the final hurdle
Without a recognised halfback or fullback going into their play-off decider against Leeds, Castleford gave themselves every chance, and at one point looked to be heading for the play-offs. A combination of fatigue and a miraculous recovery from Leeds meant that they could not see the game out, but they kept themselves in contention for longer than expected. After the worst possible start for Lee Radford’s side, they got themselves into 5th with just a handful of games to go but could not maintain their momentum with so many injuries in key areas.
16-man Rovers win the Hull derby comfortably
Unable to name a full 17 player squad, Hull KR managed to pull off an incredible win over their bitter rivals on the last game of the season. They led from the early stages, and stayed in control for the full game, keeping Hull FC scoreless in the second half. Although the game had no consequences for the league, any Hull derby matters to the two sides involved, and so for Hull KR to get a win in such difficult circumstances is testament to the attitude of the current squad.
Toulouse unable to spoil Saints’ party on final day of the season
After confirming themselves League Leaders last week, Saints left it late to put daylight between themselves and the already relegated Toulouse. Looking for their second win of the year against the champions, Toulouse fought hard to end their dramatic debut season in Super League in style, but it was not to be. At 18-16 with 15 minutes to go, there looked to be a chance for the French side, but Saints’ quality showed as they raced away in what was ultimately a convincing victory.
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