Get ready for play-off fever

Upfront: The League Express opinion – Mon 20th Sept 21

It’s that time of the year again, when the regular season comes to an end and the play-offs are about to commence.

Or at least that’s true for the Super League and Championship.

For League 1, the play-offs got under way at the weekend, with Keighley Cougars winning at North Wales Crusaders in the preliminary semi-final and Doncaster holding off the challenge of Hunslet in the elimination semi-final. Workington Town will join the fray this weekend when they host Keighley, while the Crusaders will now host Doncaster.

Ultimately the winning team will join Barrow Raiders in gaining promotion to the Championship next season.

Meanwhile this Saturday will see Halifax receiving Whitehaven at The Shay, while Batley Bulldogs will take on Bradford Bulls at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium.

At the start of the season few people would have predicted that Batley and Whitehaven would feature in the play-offs, so both clubs deserve our hearty congratulations for what they have achieved this season, beating more fancied opponents such as London Broncos and York City Knights, both of whom have had relatively disappointing campaigns.

Toulouse and Featherstone both have the weekend off and such is the dominance of those two clubs that it is impossible for us to imagine that they won’t be contesting the promotion final in Toulouse on 10 October.

And if those two clubs do face each other on that date, what a match it is likely to be.

Meanwhile the Super League play-offs will begin when Wigan face Leeds Rhinos at the DW Stadium this Thursday, while Warrington Wolves will host Hull Kingston Rovers on Friday.

Hull KR are certainly this season’s surprise packet, after finishing eleventh out of eleven last year. And it may be that they have come as far as they can for this season. But they are a great example of a club that is preparing itself for bigger things ahead.

Few clubs have made the sort of progress that the Robins have made in 2021 and if they continue down that road they will be a bigger threat in 2022, regardless of how they do at Warrington on Friday.

So it’s time to batten down the hatches to see which two clubs make it to Old Trafford on 9 October.

We’ll look forward to the challenge of reporting on some great games to come.

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