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Three dark horses for promotion to Super League

Whilst the bulk of the focus this weekend will be on the Challenge Cup, the second tier also offers fans plenty of exceptional rugby league.

The Championship has made a name for itself as one of the most physical leagues in the world,  but now it also boasts some experienced, quality players.

Wakefield Trinity have recruited heavily for their bid to return to Super League at the first attempt, with Jermaine McGilvery, Lachlan Walmsley and Derrell Olpherts all joining the project under Daryl Powel. ‘The Trin’ aren’t alone in this either, with headline signings Richie Myler and ‘the prolific’ Tom Lineham joining York Knights; and Championship new-boys Doncaster have also hit the market this year, bringing in the likes of Reece Lyne and Pauli Pauli.

With all this talent now in the hunt for Super League, it creates an incredibly open league; but could a surprise team reach the big time? Here are three potential dark horses to win promotion to Super League.

Three dark horses for promotion to Super League

Sheffield Eagles

Credit: Imago Images

The 1998 Challenge Cup winners have made an exceptional start to the season, and they could easily find themselves shocking a few people this year. The Eagles have romped to an 1895 cup semi-final, and in the opening round of the Championship season, they stunned Toulouse 24-22. They also performed admirably against Wigan Warriors in the Challenge Cup, and held the current World Champions 12-12 at half-time in their game this weekend. These performances should fill Eagles fans with hope ahead of the season, and based on these displays there’s no reason why they can’t push for promotion.

Batley Bulldogs

Credit: Imago Images

The Bulldogs were 80 minutes away from the top flight in 2022, but can they go one better in 2024? Batley punch well above their weight in the Championship, and they should take plenty of pride from this. Their run in the 1895 Cup showed they are more than capable of mixing it with the best in the second tier, and they also pushed Castleford Tigers close in the Challenge Cup. They also ran one of the title favourites Featherstone Rovers close in their opening game, and were only denied the two points by a heroic comeback from James Ford’s men. They should take plenty of pride, and now know what it takes to win games against the best in the division.


Credit: Images

This might be reading too much into it, but the Dons have taken to life well in the Championship. They got their campaign off to a flying start with a convincing 36-20 win over Championship big boys York Knights, and they will take plenty of confidence going into the remainder of the campaign. This win might have come in their opening game, but they also pushed Sheffield Eagles close in the 1895 Cup, yet again showcasing they can already compete with the bigger teams in the division. They have also recruited really well, bringing the likes of Reece Lyne, Pauli Pauli and Luke Briscoe amongst others, and this could help them push for a shock promotion challenge. I did say ‘dark horse’, right?

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