Road to the Championship: Round 4

BY EVIN PRIEST
In the final away game of the season last Sunday, withstanding Keighley’s fierce second-half comeback may prove to be a watershed moment in the Toronto Wolfpack’s march to the Championship.

Yet again, the resolve of the Wolfpack was tested.

Leading by 10 points at half time over Keighley at Cougar park, Toronto fought off a fast-finishing Cougar outfit for a gutsy 26-26 draw.

That one point (awarded for a draw) has allowed Toronto to maintain a two-point lead over Barrow Raiders at the top of Super 8s playoffs competition, with four home games remaining.

And with the first-placed team at the end of the Super 8s competition winning an instant promotion to English rugby league’s second-tier Championship, every single point is do or die.

Wolfpack fans now welcome back their team to cheer on the boys in a four-game stretch at Lamport Stadium, starting with Saturday’s clash against seventh-placed Newcastle Thunder at 4.30pm.

But if you think the Super 8s competition is a nerve-wracking finish, spare a thought for the teams contesting the National Rugby League (NRL) finals series in Australia next month.

Now that is survival of the fittest.

NRL FINALS SERIES

After the 16 teams of the NRL conclude the regular season, the top eight are split into two groups for week one of the finals series.

The top four are rewarded with an easier path to winning the premiership – they play the two qualifying finals.

The two winning teams of those qualifying finals get a week off and a straight promotion through to week three of the series, where they play preliminary finals at their home ground, while the losers of the qualifying finals play home semi-finals in week two.

Meanwhile, the bottom four teams of the regular season play the two Elimination Finals. The winners of those progress to week two, where they play away games against the two losers of week one’s qualifying finals, while the season is over for the two losers of the elimination finals.

WEEK TWO

In the first semi-final, the loser of first qualifying final hosts winner of the first elimination final, while in the second semi-final the loser of the second qualifying final hosts the winner of the second elimination final.

WEEK THREE

Prelimary finals: the winner of the first qualifying final hosts the winner of the second semi-final, while the winner of the second qualifying final welcomes the winner of the first semi-final.

GRAND FINAL

After three weeks of gruelling finals, two teams book their chance to write NRL history at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on the first Sunday of October.

YOUR GUIDE TO THE SUPER 8s

HOW IT WORKS
Once the Kingstone Press League 1 season concludes, the top-eight teams head straight into the Super 8s competition carrying their points with them. After teams plays each other for a total of seven matches, the leading side secures automatic promotion to England’s second-tier, the Championship. Meanwhile, the teams finishing second, third, fourth and fifth qualify for the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the teams finishing second, third, fourth and fifth qualify for the playoffs.

Second hosts fifth and third hosts fourth, and the victorious teams face each other in the Playoff Final.

The winner bags the second promotion ticket to the Championship.

WHERE THE WOLFPACK SITS
After 16 victories and a draw, Wolfpack are leading the Super 8s on 33 points, with Barrow Raiders second on 31 points and Whitehaven third on 29 points.

WHO THE WOLFPACK PLAYS
Home (Lamport Stadium)

  • Newcastle Thunder August 19
  • Whitehaven RLFC September 2
  • Barrow Raiders September 9
  • Doncaster RLFC September 16
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