With three games of the regular Super League 2023 season remaining, the there are three key questions which remain to be answered as the teams continue to jostle for positions throughout the league ladder.
Three sides are currently tied in top spot with any of them having the opportunity to seal the minor premiership, and the top two to who would secure themselves an easier route to the Grand Final through the playoffs. Down at the bottom of the table it is still a competition between Wakefield and Castleford to avoid the drop into the Championship, and the top six isn’t yet set in stone with eight clubs still in the running for the top six places.
Let’s look at the bottom of the table first, Castleford Tigers are in the box seat with three games remaining as they have a two league point advantage over the bottom sides Wakefield Trinity, coupled with a narrow points difference advantage. Castleford have to play; Hull FC (H), Wigan (A) and Leeds (A) and we expect that they will collect at least another two points from these games, probably against Leeds in the last game of the season. Wakefield have to face; Catalans (H), Leigh (A) and Hull KR (H) but based on their poor showings in the last few weeks (without a win since July) we can't see them winning any of these games and ending the season four points adrift at the bottom.
Wakefield Trinity to be relegated.
The top of the table is equally fascinating with three sides in with a great chance of finishing at the top of the pile. The remaining games for all three are as follows;
Wigan v. Leeds (A), Castleford (H), Leigh (A)
Catalans v. Wakefield (A), Leeds (H), Salford (A)
St Helens v. Leigh (H), Warrington (A), Hull FC (H)
We can see all three slipping up once in their last three games which would then see the title settled on points difference and with Wigan currently having an advantage, and a home game against a struggling and defensively leaky Castleford, then we think that it will be Matt Peet´s side who will win their first League Leaders Shield since 2018.
Wigan to be Minor Premiers.
Finally, who will make the last two play-off spots out of Warrington, Hull KR, Salford Red Devils and the Leeds Rhinos, and join the three title contenders and Leigh Leopards in the end of season knock-outs.
The remaining fixtures for the four sides in the frame are as follows;
Warrington v. Salford (A), St Helens (H), Huddersfield (A)
Hull KR v. Huddersfield (A), Salford (H), Wakefield (A)
Salford v. Warrington (H), Hull KR (A), Catalans (H)
Leeds v. Wigan (H), Catalans (A), Castleford (H)
Let´s start with who won’t make the play-offs, and that is the Rhinos. On their current form they are likely to lose their first two matches and certainly their form over the season indicates that they are very unlikely to win all three, the only way that they could possibly end up in the top six. Leeds to fall by the wayside, possibly in Round 25 this weekend.
With their big points difference advantage, Warrington need to win two of their remaining games to ensure the play-offs and a victory on Channel 4 on Sunday lunchtime over the Red Devils would pretty much see them home. A loss to Salford would open the door for the Red Devils, and if they were to back it up with an away win at fellow hopefuls Hull KR in round 26, then it would all come down to the last game of the season.
But we are not sure that Salford can pull it off and we think that Warrington will win two of their remaining three fixtures, as will Hull KR, one of whom will beat Salford, which means that it will be the Red Devils who will join Leeds in starting their off-season at the end of round twenty-seven.
Play-Offs will be Wigan, Catalans, St Helens, Leigh, Warrington and Hull KR.