The rugby league columnist Paul Cooke provides his point of view on the crowded race to reach the top four
The Castleford team have already secured a semi-final victory at home and now it is looking very likely that they will be joined by the team of players from Leeds after having won against Hull FC after they were placed a sorry third after the last time out.
The contentious battle for the top four is now set to be between the teams of Hull, Wakefield, Wigan and the Saints as well. This weekend looks like it is going to be vital for the final race with all four of the competing teams ready to face off against each other on the upcoming Thursday and Friday.
Many have been forecasting a Wigan charge to take a spot for themselves and another fall from grace is predicted for the Black and Whites.
Many football fans believe that Wakefield are not going to make it, though they seem to keep proving everyone wrong on a weekly basis over the past few matches. Chris Chester’s team are undoubtedly not going anywhere based on the strength of the signals that I’ve been seeing.
Meanwhile, the Saints have now become an outsider’s bet after having lost poorly to the Wigan team last weekend in a characteristic bloody contest.
The Saints are going to have to win on Thursday night at Wakefield, or else the players will be left with their only strategies being the old-style end of the season Mad Monday!
I reckon that with Wigan and Wakefield back at home that FC will take their position in the semi-finals before heading over to Castleford in about round 30.
Should they do this they will then have avoided two trips to Castleford on consecutive weekends with the chance of a go at the semi-final at Headingley secured instead.
Both the Leeds and Castleford teams will be frantic to steer clear of the Black and Whites. Lee Radford’s men have exposed enough against both the Tigers and the Rhinos in 2017 alone to make them both very wary of their team’s capabilities.
Going into the week ahead then, there are so many questions floating about and waiting to be answered. To start with, can Wakefield hold on, crack on with their stunning results so far and claim that all important third spot? Will FC fall off the cliff again? Can Wigan keep on in the quest to regain their Super League crown? Will the Saints amaze all of us and win all three games and claim a play-off place?
All these questions with just three games left for the players to have a chance at Old Trafford glory! It’s all set to be both exhilarating and captivating. Enjoy the games this weekend everyone!