Five things we learned from last week’s action

1. Saints can make the Grand Final

Quietly, St Helens have been showing some signs of improvement under Justin Holbrook.

But their victory over Castleford on Thursday has now finally made people sit up and take notice.

The victory, their eighth in 11 outings under their new head coach, was a superb display that showcased all the traits needed to end the year with silverware.

Saints were resolute in defence against the competition’s best attacking side. When they had chances, they took them clinically.

It’s not been on the cards for the majority of the year, but Saints could very well be making an appearance at Old Trafford.

2. The big hitters know when it’s time to perform

There is a knack of peaking at the right time in this long, gruelling competition.

Predictably, teams with the most trophy-laden past are the ones that threatened to do that last week.

Along with Saints, Leeds put in an outstanding display as they tightened their grip on second-place with one of their strongest performances of the year.

Even though Wigan were off the pace, Hull have now put together two strong performances on the bounce after their Challenge Cup triumph last year.

It’s been a year of surprise packages, but the predictable contingent look ready to pick up.

3. London are viable promotion candidates

It’s rare that a team on the wrong side of the result makes such an impact on the game.

But on Sunday, London did just that. A 20-18 defeat was disappointing but within the game that made a lasting impression on those who watched on.

Anyone who has seen the Broncos play this year will tell you they can compete with the best. It’s only now, having come so close to a shock win in France, that a wider audience shares that belief.

The Broncos could earn promotion this year.

4. Halifax aren’t there to make up the numbers

This weekend has changed perceptions.

In terms of the Qualifiers, London were first with their performance, then it was Halifax.

There was a belief that having made the ‘middle 8s’, Halifax’s season would now fizzle out.


They didn’t quite get the win against Hull Kingston Rovers, but how they scared them. A 26-22 defeat is inevitably disappointing in the context of the game, but by pushing the Robins, the biggest threat to Super League clubs in this mini-series according to most, they proved they could ruffle some feathers just yet.

5. The Qualifiers are going to be superb

While Warrington and Leigh both, predictably, won comfortably, there was enough drama and tension in the other two games to prove there is potential for a superb Qualifiers campaign.

The eight teams, on early evidence, are more equally matched than in recent years. That can only be a good thing.

Although the four Super League clubs might not feel like that.