Every single match of the 10 fixtures taking place in the Kingstone Press Cider National Conference League on Saturday has real resonance.
Totalrl.com takes a look at each game…
CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING SEMI-FINAL
Siddal v West Hull
The winner will head straight through to the Grand Final, which will be played at the Select Security Stadium, Widnes on Sunday 30 October. The loser will host the survivor of the Elimination Semi-Final on Saturday 22 October.
Leigh Miners Rangers v Rochdale Mayfield
The prize for victory is a visit to either Siddal or West Hull on Saturday 22 October in the second Qualifying Semi-Final. By contrast, the 2016 season will come to an end for the loser.
East Leeds v Thatto Heath Crusaders
Thatto Heath will make absolutely certain of the championship, which is all but mathematically theirs in any event, if they prevail at Easy Road on the last day of the regular campaign. The Crusaders will want to seal the title in style; Easts, by contrast, are fifth from bottom in a season in which four are relegated from the section, and are only a point ahead of Shaw Cross Sharks and just two clear of Hunslet Warriors, with whom they have a similar points’ difference. A victory over Thatto would avoid an anxious wait while the results for those two sides come through.
Elland v Milford Marlins
Basement outfit Elland have long been doomed to the drop and have been travelling with reduced numbers of late. The Halifax outfit will no doubt be delighted to see the end of this season. Milford are currently fifth and will want to keep it that way as they jostle for position with, potentially, Normanton Knights.
Ince Rose Bridge v Hunslet Warriors
Ince are two points clear of fourth-from-bottom Shaw Cross and have a superior points’ difference of 62. It’s unlikely, therefore, that they could end up in the relegation zone, but the Wigan outfit will want to make certain by accounting for the Warriors. Hunslet, by contrast, are third from bottom and in grave danger of the drop. Quite simply they must, in order to survive, not only beat Ince but hope that East Leeds and Shaw Cross (who host Normanton) lose, although in a further twist (see Underbank v Oulton Raiders) the Raiders could perhaps also be overhauled.
Millom v Featherstone Lions
The Woollybacks, like Elland, are already down but will similarly want to close the season on a high. The Lions, meanwhile, are third, and only adrift of Skirlaugh by dint of a one-point differential in the points’ difference stakes. Featherstone will therefore be targeting a big win in Cumbria.
Shaw Cross Sharks v Normanton Knights
The Sharks must win to have any chance of leapfrogging East Leeds out of the bottom four, although the `Oulton factor’ (see below) could yet come into play. Normanton will aim to win, and hope that Milford lose at Elland, in the quest to finish fifth rather than sixth. Perhaps more importantly, defeat could see the Knights miss out on a place in the play-offs should seventh-placed Underbank, who have an inferior points’ difference of just eight, win at home to Oulton.
Skirlaugh v Myton Warriors
A Hull `derby’, and therefore a huge game in any case. Myton could, in theory, top the table if they return home with a big win, although leaders Thatto Heath have a 134-point buffer in the points’ difference column. Skirlaugh, meanwhile, will want to close in third spot ahead of Featherstone, who they lead solely on the narrowest of points’ differences. A further reality is that with the Promotion Play-off Final being played at Widnes, alongside the Grand Final, on Sunday 30 October, there is little if any advantage in finishing third rather than fourth.
Underbank Rangers v Oulton Raiders
The match is being played against a backdrop of Oulton fretting on being docked two points following allegations of having fielded an ineligible player in their game against Milford – which the Marlins won – on 3 September. The Raiders could end up in the relegation zone if they lose at Underbank and have points deducted – and if Shaw Cross and/or Hunslet Warriors win.
Even should Oulton escape any disciplinary sanction, the Raiders’ could still finish in the drop zone – if they get defeated, and if both East Leeds and Shaw Cross prevail.
PROMOTION PLAY-OFF FINAL
Askam v Blackbrook
The prize for victory is straight-forward and attractive – a place in Division One next season, alongside champions Hunslet Club Parkside. A huge game is in prospect.