Round twenty-six of the Betfred Championship was where the top five was finally decided, and where Barrow were confirmed as making the drop into Championship One for 2020, alongside the long relegated Rochdale Hornets.
The top two sides, Toulouse and Toronto, both had Saturday evening home matches against bottom of the table opposition in Dewsbury and Barrow, while the game of the round was undoubtedly at third placed Leigh on Sunday afternoon where fourth placed York City Knights were the visitors.
Elsewhere Sheffield were at Odsal to play Bradford, Halifax had a home game against Rochdale, Featherstone were at Batley and Widnes hosted Swinton.
Toulouse Olympique XIII got the round off to a decisive start with a 42-14 win over the Dewsbury Rams. Bell, Mika and Vaivai had already put Toulouse 18-0 ahead at the break and Robin added two more within a quarter of an hour of the restart, punctuated only by a solitary Ryder try for the Rams. With Igbinedion in the sin bin the Rams added a second through Reilly for 10-30. Marion and Vaivai concluded the scoring for the home side before a late Day consolation.
The Toronto Wolfpack regained their twelve point lead at the top of the table with a big 62-8 win to confirm the inevitable relegation of Barrow. First half tries from McCrone, Dixon, Kay (2), Russell, Mellor and Mullally send the home side into the shed with an impressive 40-2 lead. Ackers added an eighth Toronto try just after the restart before Dallimore scored the visitors only try of the game. Further tries from Dixon, Russell and Kay, completing his hat-trick, crowned a big 62-8 win.
It was a fascinating battle at the Leigh Sports Village where the Centurions game against the City Knights was settled by just a single point. Oakes had put York ahead but tries from Brown and Hood gave the home side a 12-8 lead. Brierley extended the lead to 18-8 before Marsh and Oakes both scored for the Knights for 18-18. Woods kicked a drop goal for Leigh on sixty-six but a converted try from Harris three minutes later put York five points ahead. The final try of the game came from Forsyth but went unconverted for York to hang on and take the two points.
Featherstone Rovers 64-0 win over the Batley Bulldogs confirmed their place in the play-offs. It was a runaway victory with Chisolm bagging a personal haul of thirty-two points. Day, King, Chisolm, Hardcastle and Harrison all scored in the first forty for a 30-0 lead. Chisolm completed his hat-trick in the second half, Hardcastle grabbed a second, Jones picked up two and Lockwood also chimed in with a four pointer as Chisolm kicked the ball between the sticks on ten occasions.
The Bradford Bulls took the honours in their last game at Odsal, for now at least, when they beat the Sheffield Eagles. Both sides went into the game with a slim hope of the play-offs but the win for Featherstone ended their hopes. Keyes opened the scoring for the Bulls but Farrell quickly answered. Webster added the Bulls second before the interval for 12-4 but when Meadows scored first for the Eagles in the second half it was 10-12 and looked like game on. But then it was one-way scoring traffic with the Bulls going in through Peltier, Ryan, Pickersgill and Evans to seal the 30-10 win and say goodbye to their spiritual home.
Widnes made it thirteen wins out of twenty-six games with a narrow 36-28 victory over a Swinton Lions side who have impressed in 2019. Brand and Ah Van put them 8-0 ahead but Butt and Kibula responded for the Lions to send them into the break with a 10-8 lead. Roby, Ah Van and Owens raced Widnes into a 24-10 lead before Hansen got on the scoreboard for Swinton. Dean and Ganson seemingly put the game to bed for Widnes as they went out to a 36-16 lead but a late fightback saw Swinton get within eight of their hosts after Gregson and Ashton both scored converted tries.
Rochdale Hornets suffered another nilling, this time at the hands of a Halifax side still with a point to prove. Fairbank, Tyrer (2) and Woodburn-Hall established a 20-0 half time lead but it was a mere appetiser. Three sin-binnings in the second half didn’t help Rochdale as a procession of tries from; Sharp (2), Woodburn-Hall, Cooper, McGrath (2) and Fleming sealed an impressive 58-0 win.
Toronto, Toulouse, York, Leigh and Featherstone are now all confirmed in the play-offs. Next week’s fixtures will determine who will play who, and where.