Toronto Wolfpack will head to Canada for their first home game after eleven rounds of Championship rugby with a ten win record, and a four-point lead at the top of the table, after their 23-14 win over Featherstone Rovers.,
But the game was a lot tighter than the scoreline suggest, and for a period, Rovers looked in spitting distance of a famous win.
The Dragons went into this match knowing that they hadn’t lost an Easter Monday fixture for five years, and welcoming back players from suspension and returning from their long injury list.
Castleford, on the other hand, haven’t won an Easter Monday tie in a number of years, and lost Nathan Massey just before kick-off, handing 18-year-old Lewis Peachey his Super League debut.
Unsurprisingly, it was the home side who showed the early pressure, with two sets pressing the visitors’ try-line in the first five minutes, though with no points to show.
Round Eleven of the Betfred Championship saw wins for the top five sides as they continued their excellent Easters and pushed on relentlessly in their quest for play off places.
The game of the round saw Toronto Wolfpack travel to a Featherstone Rovers side who are just starting to fall off the pace, while Toulouse hosted Halifax in another important fixture. Leigh were at home to Dewsbury as they looked to move higher up the table and the Bradford Bulls were at home to Barrow.
Elsewhere York City Knights took on Widnes in another mouthwatering tie, while Batley entertained Swinton, and the Sheffield Eagles travelled to bottom spot club Rochdale.
A plethora of different kick off times meant a staggered Good Friday of fixtures in the Betfred Championship, as the fourteen sides played out their round ten fixtures in the increasingly competitive jostle for the play-off places, and to avoid the ignimony of relegation.
League leaders Toronto were in Cumbria to face Barrow, while second placed Toulouse travelled to third placed Sheffield for the most appetising game of the round. There were local(ish) derbies between Swinton and Rochdale, Widnes and Leigh, Featherstone and York, Halifax and Bradford, and the traditional heavy woollen derby between Dewsbury and Batley.
Rarely in the history of Super League has there been a Wigan Warriors v. St Helens derby match where the odds were so heavily stacked against the home side.
St Helens, with just one loss so far this season, travelled to the DW Stadium to take on a Wigan Warriors side who have had a terrible start to the 2019 season by their own very high standards. Wigan have only three wins to their name and are occupying a botton three spot but this was the oldest derby, and for most Warriors supporters, the must win game of the season.
A loss would make Wigan's top five hopes very difficult, a win for Saints would keep them in top spot, regardless of other results.
Local pride was at stake as the second Hull derby of the season kicked off at the KCOM Stadium, home of the Black & Whites. KR picked up the two points, with a try in the last few of seconds, when the two sides met in the opening round fixture back in early February. But FC have had the better opening to the season and are currently four points ahead of their opponents in the league table.
Lee Radford has three of his stars back in the squad as Scott Taylor and Masi Matongo returned from injury and Mickey Paea from suspension. Hull KR also have reason to celebrate as they also welcome back three stars from injury with Sean Lunt, Mitch Garbutt and Lee Jewitt all back in the seventeen.
Form was out of the window, this was all about much more than recent results.
After the first ten games in Super League 2019 there was very little to choose between the top two sides in Yorkshire. Both the Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity have six wins under their belts, and are only separated in third and fourth position in the league table by two points difference. The Tigers have conceeded eleven points less, but also scored nine points less than Trinity.
Both sides came into the game with a number of injuries to first choice players which forced changes on the coaches, and both knew that going into the busy Easter period that the two points would be crucial to keep the pressure on the two sides above them, St Helens and Warrington Wolves.
The draw for the sixth round of the Coral Challenge Cup was held live on the BBC News Channelas the remaining eight Super League sides joined the competition for the first time, including the holders the Catalans Dragons.
The eight remaining sides from last weekend’s fifth round fixtures included the Leeds Rhinos and Hull KR who both registered big wins over lower league opposition. It included Halifax RLFC, who giant killed Super League London Broncos. Bradford Bulls also made the draw after a stunning golden point victory over Featherstone after launching a big comeback in the dying minutes.
After a sensational two point victory over the North Wales Crusaders in the fourth round of the Coral Challenge Cup, Thatto Heath Crusaders were rewarded with a fifth round home tie against the semi-professional side from Dewsbury, as the Rams and their supporters travelled to Crusader Park in St Helens.
Thatto Heath named the same staring thirteen who were victorious last time out in the Cup as the National Conference Premier League side hoped to repeat their heroics against the ninth placed Championship side who were beaten last weekend by the Bradford Bulls in the league.
It was a good crowd and a terrific atmosphere, the magic of the cup was in evidence as the last community club left in the competition had another roll of the dice.
Fresh on the back of their shock win over St Helens last weekend, the Catalans Dragons welcomed an injury hit Hull FC to the Stade Gilbert Brutus. Both sides came into the game with five wins, and on ten points, with the Black & Whites holding a fifty-seven point, points difference advantage. Fifth place was up for grabs, and although todays winner would be level on points with both Castleford and Wakefield, the points difference was too much to overhaul to go above them.
Steve McNamara made a number of forced changes with Sam Tomkins moving to stand off and Tony Gigot to full back. An under strength FC welcomed back Jake Connor after a long injury lay-off, and had Gareth Ellis dusting off the boots once more, but had been rocked by the mid-week medical retirement of favourite Fetuli Talanoa.
An early summer sunny evening welcomed the players onto the pitch.