With two rounds of fixtures to go, we’ve all got what we wished for.
Hull KR might have confirmed their place in Super League for next season, and Widnes and Salford have all but done the same. However for the five remaining teams everything is still to play for, with only two spots to play for in the inaugural Million Pound Game.
As it stands Wakefield and Bradford occupy the two spots, but will they hold on? Total RL has a look at the run-in for all five teams.
On paper, Wakefield have the easiest set of fixtures, taking on both part-time teams Halifax and Sheffield.
Their biggest problem is the weight of expectation on their shoulders. With their fellow Super League rivals already seemingly safe of a place next year, the pressure of winning the Million Pound Game, if they are to make it that far, will be astronomical.
The expectancy resting on Wakefield’s shoulders is stark contrast to the mood at Halifax and Sheffield, who have already performed admirably with little pressure on their shoulders.
A fearless team is a dangerous team, and with the pressure rising at Belle Vue, Wakefield have a lot of work ahead.
Like their other rivals, Bradford’s remaining fixtures are incredibly tough.
Their upcoming match against Leigh has promised to be a defining fixture from the start, and that fact remains now. If Bradford were to beat Leigh and other results went their way, a spot in the Million Pound Game would be confirmed.
However the Bulls are yet to defeat Leigh this season, and having lost to Halifax last time out, Bradford will need to produce at least one victory to make the cut.
Consistency over the next two games is key. There’s no doubt that they are capable of beating Leigh and Fax, however they’ve struggled to put together results on a weekly basis – an essential at this stage of the season.
Saturday’s televised game isn’t one to be missed
Victory over Halifax last week would have put the Centurions in fourth going into their match with Bradford.
However, not only has that defeat left them chasing Wakefield and the Bulls, it has also brought Halifax back into the mix.
A final day trip to Widnes is arguably the toughest possible fixture in the middle eights, and giving Bradford’s two point advantage, victory over Bradford is almost a necessity.
The question hanging over Paul Rowley’s side at the minute is can they react to a string of defeats? It’s something they haven’t had to put up with for years.
Saturday is the ideal and pivotal opportunity to silence their doubters.
It’s been said over and over again, but Halifax deserve enormous credit for making it this far.
Yet giving Fax a mere pat on the back at this stage is foolish, with their fate still in their own hands with two games left.
There’s no doubt about it, Halifax will have to perform wonders to make the Million Pound Game with tough away fixtures at Wakefield and Bradford on the horizon.
However with a victory finally under their belt, and an under-pressure Wakefield up next, anything could happen.
To do so, Halifax will need to improve in the final stages of games. Victory over Leigh showed progress, but before that, games went astray late on against Widnes, Hull KR and Sheffield, with the defeat to the Eagles hugely damaging at this stage of the season.
If Halifax can keep themselves in the mix by the final game, the lower expectancy on their shoulders could work to their advantage in their quest to reach the Million Pound Game.
|Hull KR (H)
Like Halifax, the Eagles have been able to play with less pressure than their full-time opponents.
Their last-gasp victory over Halifax just over a fortnight ago has given them hope of making the Million Pound Game, but to make it they will need to see a drastic turn in their results.
Mark Aston’s men have conceded over 40 points in each of their four defeats so far, and with Hull KR up next, their defence will have to improve substantially to get a result.
But even if they were to lose to Rovers, a victory over Wakefield on the final weekend, combined with results going their way, could see the Eagles sneak into the showpiece.
Home advantage in both games is certainly worth having too.