The battle for Super League survival

Super League survival
Leeds Rhinos' Trent Merrin is tackled by St Helens' Matty Lees during the Super League match at Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens. (Photo by Dave Howarth/PA Images via Getty Images)

The battle to for Super League survival is intense as its ever been with four teams all separated by points difference.

Sam Harris looks at how the rest of the season could pan out and which teams will survive.

Super League Survival

The Current Table

9th Leeds Rhinos Played 20 Points 14

10th Huddersfield Giants Played 20 Points 14

11th Hull KR Played 20 Points 14

12th London Broncos Played 20 Points 14

Leeds Rhinos

For the third time in four seasons the Headingley club find themselves in a battle for Super League survival.

Why they are in this position

Poor recruitment and retention has again underpinned their season with new signings Dom Crosby and Wellington Albert featuring sporadically this season. Big money signing Tui Lolohea has not proven his worth and has already been sold to Salford after just 20 games.

Despite this, NRL imports Trent Merrin, Ava Seumanufagai and Konrad Hurrell have been positives for the Rhinos, as has the emergence of teenage centre Harry Newman.

Interim coach Richard Agar will have to do without the services of centre Kallum Watkins after the club agreed to release him from his contract early to join NRL side Gold Coast Titans.

Rhinos making transfer moves

Over the past week, the Rhinos have made moves in the transfer market in a bid to prevent their first ever relegation.

They signed stand-off Robert Lui on loan for the rest of the season from Salford with Tui Lolohea going the other way.

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Lui will hope to add some much needed creativity into a blunt blue and amber attack. They are the third lowest scorers in the league with 406 points.

Hooker Matt Parcell has moved to the Robins with Shaun Lunt joining the Rhinos.

The run-in

Due to starting the season with four straight away trips while their ground was redeveloped, home advantage could now prove crucial with six of their remaining matches at Headingley. As with London, they face the two standout teams again.

Remaining fixtures

Castleford (a), Hull KR (h), Hull FC (h), Huddersfield (a), Catalans (h), St Helens (h), London (a), Salford (h), Warrington (h)

 

Huddersfield

Few would have imagined the Giants to be in such a precarious position after they thrashed Hull FC 55-2 at Magic Weekend at the end of May. However their results since do not make for happy reading.

Defensive issues

Simon Woolford’s team have been on the receiving end of seven losses in eight games with the only exception being a victory over Hull KR.

Although two of these defeats were by just one point, against Wakefield and Castleford.

Captain Leroy Cudjoe played for the first time this season in their loss to Wakefield last time out. Sebastine Ikahihifo and Jermaine McGillvary have also been vital absentees for the Giants.

Injuries notwithstanding, conceding at least 22 points in all of their games since Magic weekend, including 38 points twice shows where their problems lie.

In fact, only Hull KR and London have shipped more points than the West Yorkshire side this season.

The run-in

Games against Catalans, Hull KR and Leeds could prove to be the defining run in their season.

Remaining fixtures

Salford (a), Catalans (h), Hull KR (a), Leeds (h), Salford (a), Castleford (h), Hull (a), St Helens (a), Catalans (h)

Hull KR

Much like 2014 when the Robins sacked Chris Chester and bought in James Webster in an unsuccessful bid to retain their top flight status, they will hope history does not repeat itself.

They sacked Tim Sheens earlier this month following seven losses in eight league games and a Challenge Cup exit.

KR hoping for new coach and signings boost

The swift appointment of former Warrington coach Tony Smith though could prove a shrewd move and initial performances, if not the desired results, have raised hopes at Craven Park.

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Smith’s new outfit narrowly lost to Wigan in his first game but impressively beat his former employers 16-14. They then suffered a 26-24 loss at London Broncos after being 18-8 ahead.

To their credit, the red and whites bounced back with an outstanding 18-10 victory over fierce rivals Hull FC.

New signing Matt Parcell impressed in the derby and could be an inspired signing. The form of halfback Josh Drinkwater could see them survive if he regains the form of last season at Catalans.

The run-in

Being the only team not to play Warrington or St Helens could prove important and the London home game could be a relegation decider.

Remaining fixtures

Wigan Warriors (a), Leeds Rhinos (a), Huddersfield Giants (h), Castleford Tigers (h), Wigan (a), Wakefield (h), Catalans (a), London (h), Salford (a)

 

London

Danny Ward’s men were tipped by many to win only a few games and make a swift return to the Championship.

However, they have confounded expectations with seven wins including beating leaders St Helens, Catalans in Perpignan and reigning champions Wigan.

Impressive players and coach rewarded

They have kept the majority of the players that got them promoted into the top flight last season.

Key performers include Rhys Wiliams, young fullback Alex Walker, and the halfback Jordan Abdull.

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The latter two have impressed in the top-flight enough to reportedly earn moves to Wakefield and Hull KR respectively.

Danny Ward has been recognised for his eye-catching work in the capital, this week being chosen as an assistant coach to Wayne Bennett for the Great Britain tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea at the end of the year.

The run-in

The capital side have tough fixtures but matches against Leeds and Hull KR could be crucial in deciding their fate.

Remaining fixtures

Castleford (a), Warrington (h), Hull (a), St Helens (h), Salford (h), Castleford (a), Catalans (a), Leeds (h), Hull KR (a), Wakefield (a)

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