GARETH WALKER looks ahead to a fascinating weekend of action in the Betfred Championship and League One.
THIS weekend marks the start of the last two rounds of Championship and League One fixtures, with four key issues still to be decided.
There will also be some jostling for crucial play-off places in both competitions, but for ten clubs in particular, a whole year’s work could rest on what plays out over the next fortnight.
In the Championship play-off race, Featherstone Rovers (32 points), given their vastly superior points difference, need one win from their final two matches to seal a top five spot.
Ryan Carr’s side can still be caught by Sheffield (30 points) and Bradford (29 points), who play each other in what could be the last ever game at Odsal on Sunday.
Only the winners of that game could still be in the race, but both would be effectively ruled out by a Rovers win at Batley.
Featherstone will be keen to make sure this weekend and not risk going to a tricky final day showdown with second placed Toulouse.
At the bottom of the Championship, Widnes (12 points) need a draw from their final two matches to condemn Barrow (nine points) to relegation.
Raiders also face the unenviable task of an away trip to Toronto this weekend – so the odds look massively stacked against them on all fronts.
Defeat there on Saturday means Widnes would be safe before they host Swinton.
In League One, the title is very much in Whitehaven’s hands – two wins against West Wales and Coventry will see them promoted as champions.
That sees Gary Charlton’s team (28 points) as overwhelming favourites, after they overcame an early scare in their last game at Keighley to cruise to a vital win after the break.
That match should ensure that any notion of complacency is dismissed.
But should they fall to a shock upset or two, both Oldham (26 points) and Newcastle (25 points) can still overtake them.
The Roughyeds have a better points difference than Haven so one slip-up could be enough, but Thunder would need a remarkable sequence of results now to finish top.
Below the top three, Workington Town (19 points) need one win from their final two games to formally book a play-off spot – and they aren’t easy matches.
Both Hunslet away and Doncaster at home represent the kind of challenges they will face if they confirm a top six spot.
Any slip up could let in improving North Wales (16 points) – although they have a very tough trip to Newcastle this weekend where defeat would end their lingering hopes.
Gareth Walker is the Championship correspondent of League Express and he writes his weekly Championship Focus column in League Express every Monday morning.