Ahead of the Magic Weekend, all 12 sides faced off as the French sides produced shock wins to change both ends of the table. Salford also put on an impressive display as they produced a fantastic comeback away at Warrington.
Huge swing of momentum at the top of the table
St Helens would have gone eight points clear of Catalans, had they earned a victory when they travelled to the south of France for Saturday’s game. Instead, a two-point winning margin for the home side has meant that the gap in the table is reduced to just four points. At the same time, the result puts Wigan within two points of their bitter rivals, just one week before they face off at the Magic Weekend. Saints showing that they can be beaten with a near full strength side will give sides around them hope of catching them. The rest of the season will see plenty more twists amongst the top three, but results like this show that the League Leaders’ Shield won’t be a foregone conclusion.
Salford genuine top six contenders
After a mixed start to the season, Salford seem to have really found some form. Their comeback win against Warrington made it four wins in six, as they climbed to an impressive 7th. Scoring over 100 points in the last two games, Salford are the joint third highest points scorers with 397, a testament to the quality of their backs. However, despite an inexperienced group of forwards, Jack Ormondroyd, Tyler Dupree and Alex Gerrard showed the damage they can do as they stepped up and took the game to Warrington for the last quarter. If they can keep up this expansive style of play, and navigate a difficult group of upcoming fixtures, they can trouble those around them.
Castleford strengthen their play-off ambitions
Castleford made it three wins on the bounce as they impressively beat Huddersfield. It was the second week in a row they had beaten a top four side, and after a terrible start to life at Castleford, things finally seem to be clicking for Lee Radford. The Tigers are up to 5th, and it is now a test of consistency, which has been their main issue so far, and to pick up a win as Hull FC and Hull KR lost will only add to their confidence. They face another top six hopeful next round, as they play local rivals Leeds in the upcoming Magic Weekend, a game that they would love to win for multiple reasons.
Toulouse victory will concern Wakefield fans
At the moment, Toulouse are still significant favourites to go down, as they sit four points behind 11th place Wakefield. The question is how many more wins can Toulouse pick up, and how long will it be until Wakefield bounce back. The answer may well come this Saturday, as the two sides kick off the Magic Weekend. Toulouse look to be adjusting to life in Super League more by the week, whereas Wakefield have conceded 120 points in the last two games. If Wakefield pick up a win, they’ll feel a huge sense of relief, but a Toulouse victory would set up a tight relegation battle.
This year’s magic weekend set up to be one of the best in years
Having the magic weekend so late in the season last year definitely added to the jeopardy, and the incredible Catalans comeback to secure the League Leaders’ Shield epitomised that. Although not quite as late as last year’s, this year’s Magic takes places past the halfway point of the season. The results from this week set up next weekend’s games nicely, with key battles taking place throughout the table. With a combination of rivalries and vital games, almost every game is a must watch. Toulouse and Wakefield kick things off with relegation four-pointer, which is followed by the Wigan-Saints derby which will be huge for the League Leaders’ Shield. The final Saturday game sees a West Yorkshire derby, as an improving Leeds face a strong Castleford side as the play-off races heat up. The Sunday games are equally as important, as Salford look to overcome seemingly increasingly bitter rivals Huddersfield as they could potentially move into the top six. Catalans and Warrington may not be the most evenly matched, but Warrington will be desperate to spare their blushes in front of the entire league’s fans. The final game, the Hull derby, is a huge game regardless of league standing, but as direct rivals for the play-offs there will be added pressure.