With the 2019 Super League playoffs starting 19 September, Last Word On Rugby are previewing the upcoming matches in what is sure to be ‘another classic’ end to the season.
Our resident rugby leagueresident rugby league writer Sam Harris. examines the team standings, player’s and each club’s ‘Road to the Grand Final’.
🍒 @WiganWarriorsRL know how to win.
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) September 20, 2019
The teams’ playoff history
The top five for the play-offs are: St Helens, Wigan Warriors, Salford Red Devils, Warrington Wolves and Castleford Tigers.
St Helens (52 points)
The only team to compete in the playoffs since Super League’s inception in 1998, the Saints have won the grand final in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2014.
In 2006, they became only the second team to win the treble after Bradford in 2003. However they also notably lost five consecutive finals between 2007 and 2011.
Justin Holbrook, who has announced he is leaving for NRL side Gold Coast Titans at the end of this season will look to sign off in the best possible way.
Wigan Warriors (36 points)
Great rivals of St Helens, Wigan are the reigning champions having beaten Warrington in 2018. The Cherry and Whites won the inaugural grand final in 1998 and have been successful in 2010, 2013 and 2016.
It has been an impressive finish to their season with 12 wins from 13 matches for Adrian Lam’s side in his first campaign.
Salford Red Devils (34 points)
Salford are the surprise team in this year’s playoffs but finished in their highest ever league position. They had to contend with the loss of Robert Lui to Leeds and other players will also be playing elsewhere in 2020, most notably Jackson Hastings going to Wigan.
They have only experienced the playoffs once before in 2006 where they lost 52-6 to Bradford. Ian Watson’s men come into the play-offs on the back of eight successive wins.
Warrington Wolves (32 points)
Under Steve Price the Wire saw Wigan narrowly edge them out by as their hunt for an elusive Old Trafford triumph continues. They also made the showpiece in 2012, 2013 and 2016.
Despite their Challenge Cup victory though they won just one of their last eight league games. However, in recent weeks half-back Blake Austin has returned from the ankle injury.
Castleford Tigers (30 points)
Daryl Powell’s men have made it to the end of season shootout despite again losing star half-back Luke Gale for the entirety with an Achilles injury.
The Tigers were in the 2017 final, losing to Leeds in their only Old Trafford appearance.
Super League Playoffs format
The current format will be used for the first time since 2001 with top-six, top-eight and top-four systems previously used.
The top-five playoffs gives the advantage to the league leaders of a bye to the semi-finals.
As in the regular season, if the scores are tied after 80 minutes then two five-minute halves of golden point will be played where any score for a team wins them the game.
Matches and timings
Week 1 (To be played 19/20 September)
Elimination Final: Warrington v Castleford
Qualifying Final: Wigan v Salford
Week 2 (To be played 26/27 September)
1st Semi-Final: Loser of QF v Winner of EF
2nd Semi-Final: St Helens v Winner of QF
Week 3 (To be played 4 October)
Preliminary Final: Loser of SF2 v Winner of SF1
2019 Super League Grand Final
Winner of 2nd Semi-Final v Winner of Preliminary Final
Which teams progress through the Super League playoffs with a fit and functioning squad, will be in the best position, to become Champions for the 2019 season.
Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images