You don't care if you're running first. This is about next year. What ...
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Engage Super League XVI Round 26 review by Simon Reuben
Leeds Rhinos bounced back from last week's Challenge Cup Final defeat by demolishing Wakefield Wildcats at Headingley Carnegie Stadium.
The Rhinos were without five of their players who appeared at Wembley last Saturday and Wakefield were hoping to inflict further misery as they were looking to end their seven match losing run and avoid the wooden spoon.
Slick handling saw the Rhinos move the ball across the field and Ryan Hall finished things off on three minutes to give the hosts the early lead and also brought up his 100th try for the club.
Another followed 10 minutes later as Danny McGuire sent Ben Jones-Bishop away and his great footwork got him over the line. Carl Ablett was on hand to make it 16-0 as Leeds took command.
Semi Tadulala slipped a pass for Ryan Tongia to run down the left hand side and get Wakefield on the scoreboard.
McGuire scored one for himself after doing a run around with Lee Smith. Hall made it a double just before the break as Leeds increased their advantage to 28-4.
With Paul McShane in the sin-bin, the Rhinos added an early second half try from Ali Lauitiiti, who will be playing for Wakefield next year.
But, to their credit the Wildcats showed some pride by adding two quickfire tries from Josh Veivers and Motu Tony to give the scoreboard a healthier look.
Normal service resumed as Kevin Sinfield set up Danny Buderus. Hall scored his hat-trick, McGuire made it a double with Smith and Jamie Peacock also going over as Leeds broke the sixty point barrier for the first time this year to confirm their ever present place in the end of season ply-offs.
On Loan Leeds forward Kyle Amour scored a late consolation for Wakefield who suffered an eighth successive defeat.
Leeds Rhinos 64 (Hall 3, McGuire 2, Jones-Bishop, Ablett,Lauitiiti, Buderus, Peacock and Smith tries. Sinfield 10 goals.) defeated Wakefield Wildcats 20 (Tongia, Veivers, Tony and Amor tries. Moore 2 goals.) Att: 15,511
St Helens secured third place with a comfortable win over Salford City Reds at Stobart Stadium Widnes.
After not recording a win at St Helens since 1980, the City Reds got off to the best possible start as Danny Williams scored out wide.
Saints were hampered when they lost joint skipper James Graham to the sin-bin after venting his fury of having a try disallowed by kicking the ball into the crowd, leaving referee Phil Bentham with little option but to show him a yellow card for his act of dissent.
But the numbers were even up as Salford Prop Ray Cashmere also visited the sin-bin for a high tackle. St Helens made this count and hit back with Sia Soliola powering his way over the line.
Tommy Makinson somehow squeezed the ball down in the corner and with a drop goal from Jonny Lomax the hosts took a 13-6 lead into the break.
Early into the second half Francis Meli forced his way over the line after good work by Michael Shenton as St Helens took control of the game.
Matty Ashurst and Lee Gaskell made sure of a Saints win by adding further scores. Winger Jamie Foster also had a good night kicking five from five with the boot.
So for St Helens it's a local derby in the first week of the play-offs with a visit to either Warrington or Wigan.
St Helens 31 (Soliola, Makinson, Meli, Ashurst and Gaskell tries. Foster 5 goals. Lomax Field Goal.) defeated Salford City Reds 6 (Williams try. Holdsworth goal.) Att: 7,377
Hull FC romped past Castleford Tigers at Probiz Coliseum to book their place in the play-offs.
With a top eight place up for grabs both teams were desperate for the two points in a game which was a rehearsal for the play-offs.
The Black and Whites started the stronger and took control on five minutes when Kirk Yeaman scored his 21st try of the season.
On ten minutes a high kick by Richard Horne was taken by Jordan Turner he leapt above Willie Isa to score. Ex Tiger Joe Westerman-who was booed with every touch he made-converted to make it 10-0.
Rangi Chase weaved his magic as the Tigers got back into the game; he regathered his own kick to send in Danny Orr as the lead was cut to 10-6.
Castleford missed some guilt edge chances to score and they were punished as Hull ran in two tries in the last four minutes of the first half. Tom Briscoe ran down the left to score the first before ex Cas forward Willie Manu powered over for the second to make it 22-4 and put the visitors in firm control.
Nick Youngquest responded for the hosts early into the second period after Chase's 40-20, but this was as close as Cas got and the night was summed up for them as on three occasions Richard Owen put the kick off out on the full.
FC never looked back and began to rip the Tigers apart. Turner made it a double after Westerman offloaded. Danny Houghton and Manu added others before England winger Briscoe raced 90 meters.
Will Sharp scored the visitors final try before Dean Widders laid on a consolation for Willie Isa as Castleford who drop to ninth must win at inform Hull KR next week in order to make the end of season play-offs.
Hull FC 50 (Turner 2, Manu 2, Briscoe 2, Yeaman, Houghton and Sharp tries. Westerman 7 goals.) defeated Castleford Tigers 18 (Orr, Youngquest and Isa tries. Orr 3 goals.) Att: 7,866
Hull KR edged past Catalan Dragons to move eighth in a thrilling game at Gilbert Brutus Stadium in Perpignan.
The Dragons were looking to get back on track as they still had a chance of a top four finish, for the inform Rovers a win would keep their play hopes in their own hands.
Michael Dobson was the star of the show as his solo effort gave the visitors the early lead. His outstanding pass led to Craig Hall getting Kris Welham over as Rovers lead went out to 12-0.
Dobson kicked his third goal of the game on fifteen minutes before Catalan hit back. Setaimata Sa leaped high to take Scott Dureau's kick as the French side got on the scoreboard. Another followed from Jean Philip-Baile to cut the gap to 14-10.
But, the Robins hit back with tries from Sam Latus and a second for Welham to go into the break with a 24-10 lead.
Catalan raced out of the blocks in the second half and hit back in style. Daryl Millard waltzed though a gap to score before sending Sebastian Raguin crashing over to make it 24-22 and was now game on.
However, Hall then won a race with Damien Blanch to score off a kick by Dobson, who converted to restore Rovers' eight-point lead.
But, with nine minutes left, Millard set up a tense finish as he climbed above Latus to touch down, Dureau again narrowing the gap to two points.
Rovers held on a claimed a priceless win which set's them up with a winners takes all game against Castleford Tigers in next week's final round of the regular season.
Hull KR 30 (Welham 2, Latus, Dobson and Hall tries. Dobson 5 goals.) defeated Catalans Dragons 28 (Millard 2, Sa, Baile and Raguin tries. Dureau 4 goals.) Att: 8,252
Bradford Bulls ended their three match losing streak by running the tries at Odsal over lowly Crusaders.
The Bulls last win was against Huddersfield in July and they were looking to improve their defence after conceding 158 points in their three previous outings.
Crusaders-who applied for the Championship this week-, were looking for the win which would make sure that they did not finish their final season in super League with the wooden spoon.
Ben Jeffries ghosted through the visitors defence and provided the pass for Olivier Elima to open the scoring. Lloyd White shrugged off some Bulls defenders to level for Crusaders.
Bradford regained the lead after a Jeffries kick was charged down and in next play the ball was spread across the field for Elima to claim a brace.
Ex Bull Stuart Reardon took a Tony Martin pass as the Welsh side would not lie down, but the hosts went into the break 18-10 in front as Brett Kearney grounded Jeffries' kick.
With Ben Flower in the sin-bin for tripping Shaun Ainscough, the Bulls took control and hit the Welsh outfit with two quick fire tries from Craig Kopczak and Ainscough.
Patrick Au van who had already kicked five from five then raced the length of the filed as Bradford had the game won. Peter Lupton then made the scoreboard a more respectable look.
Lynch barged his way over on the last tackle, while Kearney latched on to Kopczak's grubber for his second of the afternoon in between Reardon's dive over the whitewash as Bradford enjoyed a big win.
Martin ensured Crusaders had the last say with a late consolation.
Bradford Bulls 48 (Elima 2, Kearney 2, Ainscough, Lynch, Ah Van and Kopczak tries. Ah Van 8 goals.) defeated Crusaders 24 (Reardon 2, Lupton, White and Martin tries. Schifcofske 2 goals.) Att: 12,998
Huddersfield guaranteed themselves fourth spot with a comprehensive win over Harlequins RL at Galpharm Stadium.
The Giants welcomed back chief playmaker Danny Brough, who had been missing since June with a ligament injury. Quins were looking to build on their last outing where they defeated Leeds.
Leroy Cudjoe got the hosts after to a flying start as he latched on to Luke Robinson' pass. Cudjoe was sent of attention on the half hour mark as he caught a Brough high kick and somehow managed to offload to the oncoming Graeme Horne.
Further tries from Joe Wardle and Jermaine McGillvary put the Giants in the box seat. Although just before half-time Kevin Brown's misplaced pass was intercepted by Quins winger Chris Melling, who surged from the halfway line to score near the posts as the hosts lead was cut to 22-6.
In the second half Huddersfield moved into cruise mode as they wrapped up the win. McGillvary crossed for his second try with Cudjoe then selling the Quins defence a dummy on 53 minutes and bursting clear before passing inside for Brough to score.
Tony Clubb pulled one back for the Londoners but in the last five minutes of the game they caved in as the Giants ran in three unanswered tries. Wardle and Cudjoe completed their braces with Scott Grix scoring Huddersfield ninth try of the game on the full time hooter.
Huddersfield Giants 50 (Cudjoe 2, Wardle 2, McGillvary 2, Horne, Brough and Grix tries. Brough 7 goals.) defeated Harlequins RL 12 (Melling and Clubb tries. Gale 2 goals.) Att: 5,220
Warrington Wolves moved within one game of the League Leaders Shield as they smashed Wigan Warriors, who suffered a Wembley hangover, at HJ Stadium.
This was the game which would decide who would go into the play-offs from pole position. Challenge Cup winners Wigan only needed a win to retain the League Leaders Shield and Warrington knew anything other than a win would leave them in second place ahead of the race to Old Trafford.
Having won on their last three visits to the Halliwell Jones Stadium, the Warriors were off the pace and conceded four tries in a fifteen minute spell of the first half to end any chance of winning the game.
Matt King got on the end of a Lee Briers bomb to get things underway for the Wolves. Then, just three minutes later, Briers got lucky with a kick that rebounded of Thomas Leuluai into his path, for him to go over underneath the posts.
Michael Monaghan then strolled in for a quickfire brace as Warrington moved into a 24-0 lead. 12 minutes from the interval Paul Deacon gave the visitors a lifeline only for Michael Monaghan to add a one pointer as the hosts went into half time with a commanding 25-6 lead.
Wigan continued with their errors in the second half and substitute Jon Clarke sneaked over close to the posts on the hour mark. Joel Monaghan's stunning 90-metre interception try put the icing on the cake.
Sean O'Loughlin scored a consolation for Wigan, but Chris Bridge had the last say by kicking his seventh goal of the game as the Wolves romped home for their biggest win over their great local rivals for 50 years.
So it's simple for Warrington a win at Hull next Friday Night will see them finish as League leaders for the first time since 1973.
Warrington Wolves 39 (M Monaghan 2, King, Briers, Clarke and J Monaghan tries. Bridge 7 goals. M Monaghan Field Goal.) defeated Wigan Warriors 12 Deacon and O'Loughlin tries. Richards 2 goals.) Att: 13,024