The end of round 22 means there are just five games remaining, and the play-offs and relegation places are still being closely fought. With so few matches left, every result has huge consequences for the teams involved and those around them, setting the league up for an exciting finish. Below are five major talking points from the latest round of action.
Leeds on the march
There was a time when many were discussing the outlandish but not impossible idea of Leeds being relegated after a terrible start to the season. Now, they look a completely different side, as they made their way into the top six for the first time this year. Given that Leeds have won the Grand Final from the lowest league finish in Super League (5th) there are many excited Rhinos fans talking about at least competing with the two heavyweights at the top of the table. Although these lofty ambitions may have to wait a year, they are certainly the in-form Super League team.
Hull FC fall to eighth
There was a time when Hull FC found themselves in a position where they looked comfortable in the play-off places and were looking up at the teams above them. However, for the last few weeks they’ve been looking over their shoulder as Salford and Leeds made ground on them. Now they find themselves in eighth after yet another loss, level on points with their bitter rivals Hull KR. With some mid-season signings there is still hope for them to turn their fortunes around, but it needs to happen quickly with just five games left to play.
Warrington throw away the lead yet again
Although it was only a narrow 6-4 lead over Wigan, the second half performance from Warrington disappointed many fans. They competed well and came out for the second half in a good position, but it must have been some team talk as they went on to lose the second forty 28-0. They are looking like a 40- or 60-minute side at the minute, and despite having led in many games, they just seem unable to get over the line.
Hull KR give themselves a lifeline
Hull KR’s season looked almost over at 16-6 down to bottom placed Toulouse, as a loss would have put them three points outside the play-offs with a far worse score difference. However, they seemed to inspire a comeback out of nowhere, as they cut out the mistakes and started to pile the pressure on. It paid off as they came out 22-16 winners, to leave them just one point off the play-offs, and with key players returning for the run in, there is a chance they could repeat last year.
Salford take a knock
Given the way in which Salford play, results like their loss to Leeds are par for the course. They lost the game in the first ten minutes, finding themselves 18-0 down before they’d really touched the ball. For the following 60 minutes they completely dominated the game, and despite bringing the score to 18-14, they just could not get the try to level the game. With too many errors, Leeds eventually punished Salford’s lack of ruthlessness and put the game well beyond them, winning 34-18. Although the loss is disappointing, it was not through lack of effort or creativity that they came out second best, and there is time to reclaim sixth spot.