Talking Rugby League: Thrilling climax to Super League play-off race in prospect

What a thrilling climax to the Super League season it is clearly going to be.

St Helens and Wigan have wrapped up the top two positions, while Huddersfield and the Catalans look likely to finish in third and fourth positions, although not necessarily in that order.

But all the excitement revolves around positions five to seven.
Leeds lie in fifth place and a win today in Catalans would seal them a place in the top six, because they would then be three points ahead of Castleford or Salford with one game to play.

But if Leeds lose today in France, the waters could be seriously muddied, because their final game will be against Castleford at Headingley on Saturday.

If they were to lose both games, they would then be relying on Salford losing both their final games against Castleford today and Warrington on Saturday.

Salford are in a stronger position than Castleford because, although they have an equal number of points, the Red Devils’ point difference is vastly superior. So if Salford can win at Castleford today, they will guarantee their place in the top six, regardless of their result against Warrington on Saturday.

If Castleford beat Salford today, however, they will still have to win at Leeds on Saturday to be sure of a top-six finish. If they lose at Leeds after beating Salford, they would be relying on Salford not beating Warrington.

On the other hand, if Leeds beat the Catalans today and Salford win at Castleford, the Tigers will be out of the running for the top six. They are the only club that definitely has to win today.

If we want the battle for the top six not to be decided until Friday, then the results we should be looking for today are Catalans beating Leeds and Castleford beating Salford. With those results, all three of those teams will go into Saturday’s games with everything still to play for.

Let’s all head down to the Jungle!

Richie is hardly unique

Richie Myler was a naughty boy at Headingley last Wednesday night, at least if we can believe our own eyes.

He was tackled by Chris Hill and won a penalty for a supposedly dangerous tackle by lifting his legs to ensure that Hill would be sinbinned for the tackle.

Hill was clearly livid, but his protest to the referee was to no avail. He had to spend the last six minutes off the field, with his team reduced to twelve men on the field. His departure opened the way for the Rhinos to score the winning try by Blake Austin in front of a jubilant crowd.

Myler’s action gave rise to plenty of controversy, with Jon Wilkin in the Sky commentary box remarking on how smart he was to get Hill yellow-carded, while Phil Clarke after the game was indignant about it and said strongly that he didn’t want to be associated with a game in which cheating and gamesmanship were endemic.

Our Mailbag correspondents this week have also taken up the argument.

To say, however, that gamesmanship is only a recent phenomenon in Rugby League is seriously wide of the mark.

Is anyone else old enough to remember Alex Murphy, for example.
Alex was hailed, quite rightly, as a Rugby League genius. But part of his genius was his ability to bend every rule of the game to his advantage, as Ray French emphasised in his biography ‘My Kind of Rugby’. Gamesmanship has always existed and it always will do, although now we see more of it because it’s on TV.

And on that note, if you watched the rugby union match between Australia and South Africa on Saturday, you will have seen the Australian fly-half Nic White go down like a sack of spuds to get his opposite number sinbinned, which drove the South African media crazy.

Superman will carry on

The news that James Roby will play on for another year was not a great surprise to anyone who has watched him this season.

Roby has looked as good as ever and his leadership has been invaluable for St Helens.

His fitness levels are still extraordinary for a player who is now aged 36.

I would like to wish him lots of luck for the 2023 season.

Happy Birthday, RFL

Today (Monday) the RFL will celebrate its 127th birthday, having been born as the Northern Union in 1895 at the George Hotel in Huddersfield.

Some people confuse Rugby League itself with the sport’s governing body, however, and claim that Rugby League was born on 29 August 1895.

The truth is that Rugby Football’s history, which Rugby League has a full claim to, began long before 1895 and I always feel annoyed when our sport doesn’t lay claim to its wonderful heritage that pre-dated the formation of the Northern Union.

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