As the Betfred Super League heads towards its exciting conclusion there can be few doubts about who will emerge to be the league leaders. But as to who will carry off the trophy in the Super League Grand Final on October 12 at Old Trafford is still very much open to conjecture.
With a comfortable lead of 12 points over nearest rivals Warrington at the start of August St Helens look set to retain the League title – although they have shown themselves to be vulnerable on occasions too so it’s by no means certain that they’ll also be lifting the trophy on Grand Final day.
All the usual suspects are with them at the top of the table but there are some teams who might, in other seasons, be vying for a place but aren’t. A great case in point are Leeds Rhinos who, despite their stunning new £44 million stand at their Headingley Stadium, have underperformed spectacularly this season standing only two points above the bottom club Leeds Broncos after 24 games. More worryingly for the Rhinos, the Broncos even have a game in hand.
The top six
So, turning to the main contender, St Helens are way out in front and show little sign of falling away or taking their foot off the gas. In recent weeks they have beaten an injury-ravaged Wakefield, Wigan and Hull FC. But, in a surprising fall of form, they were also at the receiving end of a 32-12 thrashing by bottom club the Broncos. Nevertheless, it would still be fair to say that any fans of rugby betting online could be relatively confident of their choice of St Helens.
The Warrington Warriors have also displayed a level of inconsistency that suggests that they may also fall down at unexpected moments. For example, despite recent convincing wins against Hull and Salford, the far stronger Castleford gave them a 27-18 beating so they could well be a threat to their final league position.
Next up are Hull FC who have also seen a loss of form over the last few weeks losing to Warrington and Wigan. This suggests that as the season wears on and the squad tires, they may be more vulnerable to the higher placed teams in the league. Although, it must be said, the loss to Wigan was a very close run affair.
Wigan themselves have not been without their troubles going down heavily to both St Helens and Wakefield Trinity and, as just mentioned, only scraping a win against Hull FC. So with inconsistent performances like this, there’s no guarantee that they will be able to repeat last season’s cup-winning performance.
Moving on to the Castleford Tigers, they too recently suffered a surprise loss to the possibly resurgent Rhinos, off the back of victories over Wakefield Trinity and Wakefield Wolves. But let’s not forget that they were Grand Final runners up in 2017 and they could well surprise us again.
Finally, the Catalans Dragons may have carried off the Challenge Cup last season but it would be a major surprise if they added to their trophy cabinet this year too. They have suffered some major league defeats, not least the 40-10 drubbing handed out to them by Salford Red Devils.
Superb St Helens
So, no doubt, St Helens are already eagerly eyeing up the treble for themselves tis season. The League title’s all but in the bag and they only have to overcome Warrington Wolves to carry off the Challenge Cup. Following the not entirely unexpected announcement of Justin Holbrook’s departure for the sunnier climes to take charge of the Gold Coast Titans, winning all three titles would be a fitting leaving present for him.
As to which St Helens players have helped to put the team in this position, hats must surely be doffed to Danny Richardson. Following on from scoring a grand total of 296 points for the team last season with 135 goals and 6 drop goals, his kicking has been immaculate again. In the team’s recent 26-6 victory over the struggling Wakefield Trinity, he was responsible for no less than 14 of those winning points.
In terms of try scorers, Tommy Makinson leads the way, not just for the team but for the League in general. Together, they make for an invincible pairing that could make this the Merseyside club’s best season ever.