An Old Trafford date with the Warrington Wolves awaited the winner of tonight's second semi final between the second placed Wigan Warriors and Challenge Cup winners Hull FC.

The Warriors are in form and on the back of a three game winning run, including an 18-12 victory over tonight's opponents. Hull's form has taken a downward spiral since they picked up silverware, with just one win since Wembley, and a loss last week against the Wolves which saw them finish the Super 8's in third.

FC were without captain and talisman Gareth Ellis but Wigan also had their troubles and were missing Ben Flower through suspension and captain Shaun O'Loughlin and full-back Sam Tomkins both through injury.

Fresh from their win at Hull FC last weekend, securing the Minor Premiership, top of the table were at the Halliwell-Jones to take on their nemesis, St Helens, in the play-off semi-final. The Wolves home form against Saints is dreadful, losing their last seven encounters and with only two home wins against their near neighbours since the start of Super League.

Saints know what it takes to get to a Grand Final, having featured in ten of the eighteen finals, and they welcomed back James Roby into the form side in competition. Warrington also had a returnee in the shape of Kurt Gidley, adding strength and experience in the halves.

It would be the end of the season for one of these sides, the other would be starting preparations for a trip to Old Trafford and the Grand Final.

The final weekend of the Qualifiers would determine the final automatic Super League 2017 position (either Huddersfield Giants or Hull KR), and also determine who would be playing in the million pound game next weekend.

The loser of the game between the Giants and KR would be the home team against either Salford Red Devils or, should Salford slip up against Batley Bulldogs, the London Broncos. If the Broncos could beat Featherstone by sixty points more than Salford beat Batley, then the Broncos would also make the million pound game.

It was a fitting end to the Super 8s as the top two met at the KCOM Stadium in Hull with the winners taking the Minor Premiership and the loser likely to be passed by Wigan and drop to third spot where they would be playing away in the semi-finals next weekend.

Tony Smith made a number of positional and personnel changes after last weekends loss to the Warriors, when they should have been sealing the minor premiership as he hoped his side would stop an unchanged FC completing the second leg of their intended 2016 treble.

A win tonight would make, or a loss could break, respective seasons.

With both the Rhinos and the Centurions already guaranteed Super League places for next season all that was to play for at Headingley was the pride of finishing at the top of the Super 8s Qualifiers table.

As an added incentive, the Bev Risman Trophy would be competed for for the first time in honour of the Leeds and Leigh legend.

Leigh brought a five month long unbeaten record to Headingley and we're taking on a Rhinos side who lost at Huddersfield last weekend and who were without a handful of regular first-teamers including McGuire, Burrow, and Garbutt.

With the Leeds Rhinos and Leigh Centurions already confirmed for Super League in 2017 all attention turned to the third automatic promotion place and the intrigue of which sides would be involved in the Million Pound Game.

The Red Devils trip to London Broncos looked to be crucial, as did the Huddersfield Giants home game with Leeds Rhinos and Hull KR's trip to Featherstone Rovers.

It would be a crucial and surprising week in the Qualifiers.

Fifth space was up for grabs as the Catalans Dragons entertained the Castleford Tigers at the Stade Gilbert Brutus in Perpignan. The Tigers needed a win and hope that they won and that the Dragons would lose in the final round next weekend.

A win for the Dragons would seal fifth spot for the home side, and confirm that the Tigers would end the season in sixth.

The Tigers were without talisman Rangi Chase who was suspended as the Dragons looked to end their home fixtures for the season on a high.

It was simply a 'must win' game for both Salford Red Devils and London Broncos as they met in the Saturday afternoon Super Eights Qualifier at the A.J. Bell Stadium.

A fifty-seven point win would see the Red Devils up into third spot ahead of tomorrow's games. This would see them in the final automatic promotion berth, but a loss would see them odds on for the Million Pound Game.

Anything but a win for the Broncos would signal the end of their promotion hopes and would rule them out of the Million Pound game.

This was the night that Warrington Wolves should have been crowned minor premiers. A win would be enough to seal the deal and see the Wolves at the top of the pile for the first time since 2011. But Wigan had their own agenda, needing a win to maintain their chances of a top two finish and a home tie in the play offs.

The Wolves welcomed back Daryl Clark and Joe Westerman to the side who beat Widnes last round and the Warriors were unchanged from the side who beat Hull FC last weekend.

Hull FC fans were desperate for a Wigan win to give them a shot at the League Leaders Shield, but a packed Halliwell-Jones were there to create an electric atmosphere and cheer their side home.

Hull FC travelled to Wakefield knowing that a loss would signal the end of their treble hopes, and be a third consecutive post-cup final defeat. Any continuation of their shocking downturn in form could see them finish the season in fourth spot.

For Wakefield, the only prize on offer was that of denying their opponents the title as they are already confirmed as finishing eighth, thanks to an awful points difference against the only side that they could catch on league points.

It was a hot and humid night in Wakefield as the sides took to the field.
All views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the RLFANS.COM or its subsites.

Copyright 1999 - 2016 RLFANS.COM