Somehow proved wrong again…

On Friday I claimed the top three Super League places had been consolidated. This may well be the case, but the goings-on within that group and below are very much to be concluded.nnIt seems now that every week I make an assumption about the league table, and then am proven wrong immediately by the weekend’s results. It must be some sort of writer’s curse.nnI thought Leeds would win at Wigan, Bradford would win at Huddersfield, and Hull KR would beat Castleford. The writer’s curse stuck again, as all three sides were turned over in Round 20.nnLeeds looked set to turn around a 17-0 half-time deficit at the JJB Stadium on Friday night, and trailed by just a point with 20 seconds to go.nnReferee Ashley Klein then awarded the Rhinos a controversial penalty, but after Kevin Sinfield had hobbled off earlier in the second half, Rob Burrow was handed the goal-kicking duties, and his kick fell just short and wide of the posts. So Wigan held on to the narrowest of leads, coming through 23-22 winners in arguably the most electric game of Super League XIII.nnJust under 24 hours later, St Helens were extending their league winning run to ten games, with an breathtaking 54-0 victory over Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop.nnTheir defensive line rarely looked threatened, while some of the attacking play on show was nothing short of extraordinary.nnLeeds had the luxury of a ten-point gap a few months back, held a far superior points difference over the trailing pack. They had suffered defeat just twice all season.nnThat lead was over second-placed St Helens, but having been beaten three times in their last six league fixtures, they now sit behind the Merseysiders, and are just a point Les Catalans in third place. St Helens have even taken on the best points difference in the competition.nnHow things change. One thing that has remained surprisingly consistent is Les Catalans. Having made it six straight wins with Sunday’s 30-18 win at Hull FC, the French side have outstripped the rest of the play-off chasers, and they are deservedly only a few games away from securing at least third place.nnBelow the top three, Wigan sit pretty in fourth after that win over Leeds, and with a game in hand at home to Huddersfield later this month, look a good bet to have a home tie in the play-offs.nnHaving enjoyed a good run of form and three straight wins, Wakefield’s play-off bid has weakened over the last fortnight, with the 60-24 at Warrington their second on the trot.nnJohn Kear’s side stay in seventh place, only by virtue of a poorer points difference than sixth-placed Bradford, but sneaking into sixth spot at the end of the regular season looks like the only realistic option for Wakefield now.nnOn the other hand, Warrington, look to have put their mid-season woes, brought on by the shock departure of Paul Cullen, behind them, and have won four from five under new head coach James Lowes.nnLowes is a good bet to become the permanent man in charge of the Halliwell Jones outfit, and looks set to steer them to a top six spot come play-off spot.nnBradford were another side who appeared to have overcome their mid-season troubles, and Huddersfield having nothing to play for, this prompted me to forecast a Bradford win.nnThis season has already shown that no game is a foregone conclusion, and that was again demonstrated at the Galpharm Stadium on Sunday, as Bradford fans were left stunned. A 25-24 defeat at near neighbours Huddersfield saw them slip to sixth place, a position they now cling on to with Wakefield breathing down their necks behind.nnHead coach Steve McNamara later branded the match a “pantomime”. Referee Steve Ganson showed Bradford’s Paul Sykes a red card after the game, sin-binned Ben Jeffries and two Huddersfield players, ands twice placed Terry Newton on report, along with Michael Platt in what was a highly ill-disciplined match.nnThe win for Huddersfield was nothing more than a boost for pride, as they pulled two points ahead of Hull FC, who saw their cushion over Castleford cut to just two points on Sunday.nnGanson was alleged to have blown for full-time too early, when Bradford were about to fashion a late chance to snatch the game. Sykes was understandably furious and vented his frustration at Ganson. When it seemed it couldn’t get any worse for the Bulls, it did, when Ganson showed Sykes red.nnBelow Wakefield is Harlequins, who suffered their fifth loss in six after the 54-0 trouncing to St Helens on Saturday evening. Their play-off bid is another one which is fast fading away, as they lie four points behind Wakefield and Bradford. Brian McDermott’s side are badly out of form, and in need of a minor miracle to sneak into the top six.nnAnother side terribly out of sorts is Hull KR, whose surprise 18-10 loss at Castleford on Sunday saw them slip five points behind sixth place. They were right in the thick of the play-off picture just a few rounds ago, but have fallen right out of contention and their season will more than likely just peter out into nothingness.nnWith the threat of relegation completely removed, the win for Castleford, like Huddersfield, was for nothing more than pride, as they aim to avoid the embarrassment of finishing bottom of the pile.nnLike every other week, there was always going to be one result that got in the way of a perfect predictions list. The only difference this weekend, however, was that there were three results I got wrong.nnIt appears now that the only result to call with any confidence is a St Helens match. Now I’ve said that, though, just watch their form go pear-shaped, too. Apologies to any Saints fans reading this.

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