This year’s Super League is moving towards its conclusion, with things having reached the stage of the play-off semi-finals.
This means that only four teams are left in the running to be Super League champions for 2017, and two of them – namely Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos – have already booked their spots in the semis. So, with just a handful of big games to go, which team will go on to become the champion?
At this stage, there are four sides still vying for those two remaining Super 8 semi-final places – Hull F.C., St Helens, Wigan Warriors and Wakefield Trinity.
The first two of these clubs are in the box seat right now, as they hold the all-important third and fourth spots in the table with only the round 7 set of fixtures still to play.
However, Hull have to face a seriously daunting away match to Castleford in round 7 that could yet see their chances of progressing further falter at the very last minute. This would be hugely disappointing for the club as they have performed at a high level throughout the competition.
They finished the regular season in third spot, with 13 wins and 27 points, and have held that position through six rounds of the play-offs.
Hull are still rated 6/1 third favourites to win the Super League, and it could be that Castleford will take their foot of the gas in the final game – with their semi-final place already assured.
Fourth-placed St Helens play away to Salford Red Devils in the last round of fixtures. The latter side saw their championship hopes crash around them due to a dreadful run of form and results in the play-offs.
Salford finished in fourth place in the table at the end of the regular season, but won only one game in the play-offs, as their season collapsed.
It is hard to see them standing in the way of St Helens, who are rated 9/2 by bookies at casinoonline.co.nz for the championship, but equally there is little sign that the latter are strong enough to win the title.
Wakefield – at an outside 200/1 – will face 7/1 rated Wigan in the last game, with the latter strong favourites to win that one.
The two sides that have already qualified are Castleford and Leeds, both of whom look formidable.
The Tigers romped the regular season, finishing twelve points ahead of Leeds in second spot, and have continued that form into the play-offs – losing just one match.
Their most recent game saw them comfortably defeating the reigning champs Wigan on the latter’s home turf – with the hat-trick by teenager Jake Trueman showing just what depth of quality their squad has.
They are 5/4 odds-on favourites for the title and it is hard to see anyone – with the possible exception of 4/1 rated Leeds stopping them.
Leeds thrashed Salford by 44-2 in their last play-off match and should be too strong for whichever side they face in the semis, but whether they can overcome Castleford is another matter.
Whichever teams make it into the big final, it’s sure to be another thrilling spectacle for lovers of the Super League and of sports betting.