We’ve got a couple of intriguing play-off semi-finals – Wigan Warriors versus Leeds Rhinos on Friday and St Helens against Salford Red Devils on Saturday – and hopefully the two ties will provide more entertainment than the eliminators.
Both Catalans Dragons and Huddersfield Giants were a let-down, but don’t let that take away from the achievements of Leeds and Salford in sealing excellent away wins.
Catalans reverted to the bad old days as their discipline went out of the window along with hopes of a second successive Grand Final appearance.
It’s strange, because when they’ve tightened up in that area, they’ve been good, but on Friday, they made Leeds’ task that much more straightforward.
All Leeds had to do was stay calm and stay patient, and take advantage of the yardage provided by the penalties Catalans conceded and of their numerical superiority at various stages of the match.
Two sinbinnings for Mitchell Pearce, one for Michael McIlorum and a red card for Gil Dudson shows how far the home side went off the rails.
Dudson will likely have a hefty ban coming his way – and it’s his new club Warrington who could feel the consequences.
Many Leeds fans will be scratching their heads as to how their team are in the last four for the second season running after the way things started.
But they are there, and will give it a go, without being under any real pressure, because everyone is expecting a Wigan success.
In previous years, I’d have been more hopeful for Leeds, but the way Matt Peet has things organised at Wigan, I think they will win by ten.
Can Salford get to a second Grand Final in four years? We all remember how they shocked Wigan to make it to Old Trafford back in 2019.
Ian Watson was at the Red Devils’ helm in those days, of course, but his Huddersfield side showed far less adventure on Saturday and were a big disappointment.
Salford did a real number on the Giants, and while their attacking ability is clear, the work Paul Rowley has done on defence was shown by the Giants being nilled on their own turf.
I’ve been critical of Marc Sneyd in the past, but I think he’s been good in recent weeks.
He’s got the best kicking game in Super League at the moment, and if he isn’t in Shaun Wane’s World Cup thoughts, he should be – along with Andy Ackers and Kallum Watkins.
It’s a real shame Brodie Croft is ruled out against St Helens under head-injury protocols.
I still think it will be tight but I’m going Saints by six.
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