The 2019 Betfred Super League season brought with it the tagline “new beginnings” promising the most competitive and exciting campaign to date.
A huge component of the rebrand was a new play-off structure with the top-five battling it out for a place at Old Trafford and at the other end of the table the side finishing 12th being relegated to the Championship.
As we head into the final round of the regular season, Warrington, Wigan and Salford are all battling it out to finish second and secure a more comfortable route to the Grand Final and at the foot of the table any one of four sides will face the drop on Friday night.
With the new play-off structure, first, second and third spot have two bites at the cherry and can lose their opening game in the series without being eliminated. Second spot will host third in week one with St Helens receiving a bye to the qualifying semi-final.
Fourth place will host fifth place with the loser eliminated with the winner of that game playing the loser of second vs third the following week.
So what are the permutations for the top-five following this Thursday and Friday night’s results?
Wigan currently sit in second place on 34 points and will secure that spot with victory or a draw over Castleford on Thursday night.
Warrington and Salford both lie two points behind and could leapfrog the Warriors should they lose to the Tigers at the DW Stadium.
Both have superior points differences to Wigan with Warrington travelling to Leeds and Salford hosting Hull KR on Friday night – both 24 hours after the Warriors.
Should Wigan lose and both Warrington and Salford win, the Red Devils would need to better Wire’s winning margin by 13 points to move into second spot.
Castleford’s play-off hopes received a big boost with victory over Hull FC last week and a win over Wigan would secure their top-five spot.
The Tigers could sneak into third position should Warrington and Salford both lose but would need a considerable margin of victory and heavy defeats for the Wire and Red Devils.
With a -106 points difference Hull FC look very unlikely to trouble the top four spots but will seal fifth place if they beat St Helens and Castleford slip up at Wigan.
Sound simple? It’s going down to the wire and could be one of the most exciting climaxes to a regular season in years.
Check out the video above of how the new play-off format works.
Super League Round 29: Wigan v Castleford (Thurs), Leeds v Warrington, Salford v Hull KR, Hull FC v St Helens, Wakefield v London, Huddersfield v Catalans (All Fri).