With just four regular season games left and six clubs mathematically in the race to claim the League Leaders shield, 2014 could prove to be one of the tightest Super League seasons yet.
With many of the competing teams still to play each other, it is almost impossible to predict who will finish top of the pile.
Saints currently lead the way with a two point margin. Their run-in features games against Leeds, Warrington and Huddersfield following this weekend’s home clash against a resurgent Wakefield.
That difficult run, coupled with the loss for the rest of the season of several influential players including Luke Walsh (broken leg) and Jon Wilkin (shoulder), means Saints have a tough task to claim top-spot.
Warrington Wolves are also facing a difficult run-in. Home games against Castleford and Huddersfield are followed by trips to both St Helens and Wigan.
While they could be relying on teams above them dropping points, the Wolves know that even if they don’t get their hands on the League Leaders Shield, their race to get to in will stand them in good stead for the next trophy on offer.
We have got a pretty tough run in,” Wolves star Michael Monaghan told League Express.
“We don’t play anyone from outside the top six for the rest of the season so we are certainly going to be tested for the next few weeks. But that will also prepare us for play-offs and that’s the sort of preparation we like so we are looking forward to the next few weeks.”
Castleford possibly have the easiest run-in on paper, with games against Bradford, Wakefield and Catalans following next weekend’s trip to Warrington. While those teams are enjoying a bit of form recently, if the Tigers can take a clean sweep while others above them are inevitable dropping points, they could still push hard for the top spot.
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Leeds will be looking for a strong finish to the season to give themselves an easier route in the play-off than they have experienced in recent years and a big victory against winless London next time out will give them an extra boost of confidence. Then with St Helens, Wigan and Hull FC Leeds will face another mini play-off series and we all know how well Leeds can get themselves up for the big occasions.
Wigan will be hoping to pick up maximum points from trips to Hull KR and Widnes to keep up the pressure at the top ahead of home encounters with Leeds and Warrington.
Huddersfield may find it difficult to retain the League Leaders shield they won last year, but with three home games remaining they will certainly give it their best shot. And three of teams around them having been involved in the weekend’s Challenge Cup semi-finals, and the fourth traveling to the John Smith’s Stadium this Sunday, the Giants will be hoping they can take advantage of some cup hangovers.
Remaining fixtures for the top six teams
St Helens: Wakefield (h), Leeds (a), Warrington (h), Huddersfield (a)
Wigan: Hull KR (a), Widnes (a), Leeds (h), Warrington (h)
Leeds: London (a), St Helens (h), Wigan (a), Hull FC (a)
Castleford: Warrington (a), Bradford (h), Wakefield (h), Catalans (a)
Warrington: Castleford (h), Huddersfield (h), St Helens (a), Wigan (a)
Huddersfield: Widnes (h), Warrington (a), Hull FC (h), St Helens (h)