Now in its 21st year since replacing the RFL Championship in 1996, this year’s Super League is well underway with nine of the 23 matches already played.
It’s shaping up to be a great season which has seen some huge contests and some surprising results. Hopes are high that this will see the crowds start to reverse the trend that was noted last season.
As the warmer weather and light nights arrive, it’s likely that even more people will turn up to watch the live matches.
Hull FC were the undoubted champions of last season winning both the league and Challenge Cup that saw Warrington Wolves as the unlucky losers in a very close 12-10 defeat watched by over 76,000 spectators at Wembley.
This season has seen the teams’ fortunes vary wildly. For example, it was a points-fest when Hull cut the Huddersfield Giants down to size in a decisive 48-8 victory in early March but, a little over a month later, the boot was very much on the other foot when the Salford Red Devils delivered a crushing 54-18 defeat.
Hull also only managed a 22-22 draw against a struggling Warrington side, but they’re holding their own and are well up the top half of the table.
If you were going to bet on a team who may be surprise winners of this year’s Super League then the Salford Red Devils could be a pretty shrewd choice.
Last season they came a very unspectacular tenth in the league – although without the six point deduction slapped on them for salary infringements they could have been at least three places higher.
But that’s all behind them now and they seem determined to make their mark. As well as the victory over Hull FC they have also had other big scoring wins including beating Widnes Vikings 46-10.
Another team that seriously under-performed in the 2016 season and who ended up with a huge negative points difference of -172 were Leeds Rhinos.
However, this season is already looking far more hopeful having seen big victories over Catalan Dragons, Wakefield Trinity and Huddersfield. They were less fortunate, however, when they came up against Castleford Tigers who delivered a 66-10 drubbing.
Looking at the Tigers’ performances it’s not surprising that they feature both the leading try scorer in Greg Eden as well as the leading goal kicker, Luke Gale. At the time of writing the top tackler has been Leeds’ Matt Parcell of Leeds Rhinos, while the player who’s made the most metres is Alex Walmsley of St Helens.
As for predicting who will be carrying off the league trophy, it could be too close to call. However, with the blistering form that Castleford have shown this season, both in terms of team and individual performances, no-one would probably be too surprised if this was the year when they finally break their duck.