The opening game of round twenty-three of Super League, the last before the split into the Super Eights, saw a dead rubber game between two sides who were simply looking for form going into the middle eights competition.
Warrington Wolves were guaranteed ninth spot and four home games, while Widnes were likely to finish eleventh and couldn't manage any better.
The Wolves won the game in Widnes back in April by 19-10, and their home game in the cup by 34-20, but both sides wanted the confidence boost that a win would bring.
First versus third for the Sky Friday night fixture, that would either extend Castleford’s lead at the top of the table or guarantee a top four slot for the Devils moving into the Super 8’s. The pressure was certainly on Salford having lost four from their last five, could they bounce back from a heavy defeat at Headingley the week before? A dry start promised a fast game perfect for the Greg Eden to add to his try scoring tally for the season.
With the end of the first phase of the league only one week away it promised to be a competitive game. It was an opportunity for Salford to steady the nerves going in to the Super 8’s
Anything other than a victory for the Warrington Wolves would condemn them to the middle eight’s and seven games of anguish to fight for their Super League lives. While tonight’s opponents Wigan Warriors are already safely in the Super Eights a win would get them within just two points of fourth placed Hull FC.
This is the fourth meeting of the season between these two great sides with the Warriors having won comfortably in the league but by just a single point in the Challenge Cup. The sides also fought out a dramatic draw at the Magic Weekend in Newcastle.
It was all on the line at the Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, in State of Origin 3 with the sides tied at one win each. New South Wales comfortably won the opening game by 28-4 while a sensational second half fightback from Queensland saw them emerge as 18-16 victors.
New South Wales named an unchanged side coming into today's game but Queensland rang the changes forced by the well publicised shoulder injury to Johnathan Thurston. Cameron Munster was given a debut in Thurston's shirt while Michael Morgan came off the bench to take over in the centres from Darius Boyd, who has a broken thumb.
The Blues and Maroons were hopefully about to serve up a State of Origin feast.
England coach Wayne Bennett has signed Andre Savelio next season on a two-year contract with Brisbane Broncos.
Savelio will see out the rest of his contract with Warrington as they battle for their survival in Betfred Super League before linking up with Bennett's men and joining the likes of Sam Burgess and James Graham in the NRL.
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With just three games left until the split into the Middle and Lower eights round twenty-one of the Kingstone Press Championship could prove to be the crucial weekend in deciding who will play where, as we enter August.
The biggest game of the round was undoubtedly in Toulouse where the fourth placed home side welcomed fifth placed Halifax in what many saw as a Middle Eights decider.
Elsewhere, Hull KR were at Bradford, there was a heavy woollen derby at Batley, the Eagles were in London, Featherstone were looking to cement their play-off place at Oldham and Rochdale entertained Swinton.
The game of the twenty-first round saw second placed Salford Red Devils take on a Leeds Rhinos side sitting in third spot. A win for either side would lift them two points clear of the other, and to within eight of the league leading Castleford Tigers.
The Rhinos welcomed back Danny McGuire and Jamie Jones-Buchanan after they served suspensions last week, but coach McDermott knew that his side would have their work cut out against a Red Devil's side who have impressed at every stage in the 2017 season.
The Rhinos won the early season meeting at Headingley by 20-14, mainly thanks to the boot of Rob Burrow who kicked four times. The Devils who were the bookies favourites, but only slightly.
The defending champions took a major step towards securing their place in this year's Super 8s when Wigan notched up a 32-10 victory in Perpignan – and at the same time all but guaranteeing that the Dragons will be playing for their 2018 Super League place in the qualifying comp.
The win will have cheered up hospitalised coach Shaun Wane – recovering from a hip operation – neither side convinced for much of the game as the heat in the south of France seemed to take its toll.