All herald the Giants. League leaders, Huddersfield Giants completed an outstanding season under Paul Anderson with a celebration rout of the Wakefield Wildcats, beating them 40-0 and in doing so securing top spot. It was clear the Giants wanted to celebrate in style and now they head to the play offs the worthy favourites to take the title, something they haven’t done since 1962.
However play off rugby football is a different kettle of fish as Leeds have shown in the past having come from 5th twice to win the Championship. Warrington, Wigan, Leeds fill the top 4 play off positions with any of these teams capable of beating each other on their day. Its a scramble for the next four places but St Helens look a cut above the other 3 of those that make-up the 8. With one round to go it will be interesting to see how coaches faced with a “dead rubber” choose their sides. In the case of St Helens they really need a win to restore the confidence that saw them win 5 on the bounce before being outplayed by Warrington.
Play off rugby is about planning for the one game, its about explosive play makers and its about outstanding defences. Its about who can create chances consistently and over the next four weeks deliver the perfect blend to come up trumps in each game. Now its down to who makes the least mistakes, gives away the least penalties – it is they who will triumph
Warrington have the play makers and it is for that reason they are 9/4 favourites but Briers is still so critical to their success and do they really enjoy defending or are they just pretending – Briers fitness and their ability to play error free rugby will see how far they go.
When Wigan look good – they look great. Defensively superb when led by Sean O’loughlin and are attackingly explosive if Sam Tomkins is allowed to run at defences but I cant help thinking that teams know where their attacks are coming from now.
Never rule out Leeds, they are the most successful play off team in history and Brian McDermott has a team that play the most exciting brand of rugby around. My concern is that they haven’t had an easy season and some of those older bones of key players have taken a pounding, with injuries hitting them hard in 2013.
For St’ Helens there must be concerns, they were murdered by Warrington the other night and whilst they tried to claw their way back in to the game you simply cant afford starts like that in play off games.
This weekends rounds will decided the exact finishing positions but the final eight is decided so punting comes with a wealth warning as teams will be reluctant to risk big play makers and to allow their forwards to get in to dog fights before the playoffs –
So – let the games begin
We will preview each weekend of activity and wrap it up on a Monday.