12 Teams. 6 Matches. 2 days. 1 Iconic Stadium.
There’s less than a week to go until Rugby League’s biggest festival heads to Anfield and the City of Liverpool.
The 2019 Super League Dacia Magic Weekend will see all 12 of Super League’s teams descend on the city for the first ever Magic Weekend to be held in Liverpool.
In the closing encounter of a thrilling Summer Bash, Leigh Centurions were looking for a win to go fourth, or a win by thirty-fiveor more points to go third, in a very congested Betfred Championship table. Their opposition would be no walkover, a Widnes Vikings side with the same number of 2019 wins, but languishing near the bottom of the table as the result of a pre-season points deduction.
When the two sides met a month ago it was the Chemics who took the points with a 30-12 victory, but this was the most anticipated encounter of the weekend with an expection of no quarter being asked or given by either side.
The curtain call had the potential to be a humdinger.
The heavy woollen derby had decamped to Blackpool as the supporters and staff of the Dewsbury Rams and the Batley Bulldogs competed in the penultimate game of the summer bash.
The sides in ninth and tenth positions in the Betfred Championship are already some way adrift of the top eight and even further off a play-off place. Whoever took the two points from this encounter would grabthemselves a lifeline, whoever lost would probably realise that it was the end of their 2019 aspirations.
It was almost guaranteed to be a close, edgy, and full-blooded encounter.
If the Summer Bash weekend had a side who were guaranteed to gather in a crucial two points then most pundits would pick a Sheffield Eagles win in the opening Sunday game when they played Barrow.
Barrow are second bottom in the table after many brave performances and close results which have only yielded three points from their one win and one draw, both in the opening four rounds. Sheffield, on the other hand, are flying high with eight wins from their twelve games and the two points today would llift them into third spot with a game in hand over their rivals.
The only previous 2019 season encounter between these two was a close affair in round two which the Eagles scraped by just two points thanks to a last minute penalty goal.
In a dress rehearsal for the Challenge Cup quarter final, the closing game of the first day of the Summer Bash pitted the Bradford Bulls against Halifax, as seventh took on eighth in the ongoing battle for a play-off place.
A win for the Bulls would lift them into third spot in a very congested and competitive top of the table, but should the two point be picked up by Halifax then they would draw level on points with their opposition today, and three other sides directly above them in the table.
There was little to choose between these two sides on paper for what was a fitting end to the fist day’s competition in Blackpool.
With Toulouse having been defeated by Toronto in an earlier match at the Summer Bash, York knew that a win would lift them level on points with the French outfit as they took on the Featherstone Rovers in the third game of an action packed afternoon in Blackpool.
It was a comprehensive 42-12 win for Rovers the last time that the two sides met and The Colliers knew that a win of any description would lift them into fourth spot and a play-off position ahead of the weekends remaining games.
When the Salford Red Devils hosted St Helens back in round four at the end of February, the Saints travelled back down the East Lancs Road with the two points after a convincing 26-4 win.
Saints are sitting very prettily at the top of the pile, with points in hand over their rivals, but Salford had a massive incentive in knowing that a win could lift them as high as third, thanks to their superior points difference.
Saints were without a number of key players including James Roby and Danny Richardson and despite Salford being underdogs, they must have travelled to the Totally Wicked Stadium with hope that they could upset the odds.
Super League’s biggest star and Liverpool fan, Blake Austin, can’t wait to get onto the field at Anfield, he signed for Warrington Wolves from the NRL in Australia at the start of the season.
All 12 of Super League’s teams descend on the city for the first ever Magic Weekend to be held in Liverpool after previously being held in Newcastle at St James’ Park.
Austin is one of Super League’s biggest summer signing and he’s been a star player and currently leads the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel standings, a player of the year award that is voted on performances every week with the top performer scoring three points.
The last time that these two sides met was back in round seven when the Tigers came back from a sixteen point deficit to level the scores at full time, only to be beaten by the Rhinos in Golden Point thanks to a Brad Dwyer drop goal, the first of his career.
While the Tigers have had their problems since that loss, including last weeks cup exit to Hull FC, they are nothing compared to the Rhinos sacking their coach before they exited the Challenge Cup at the hands of Championship side, the Bradford Bulls.
The Tigers are now seventh in Super League, with the Rhinos languishing in twelfth. A Castleford win could see them up into third spot while a win for the Rhinos, in front of a newly opened North Stand at Headingley, would lift them above the Giants and into ninth.
Bookies, pundits and supporters all thought alike, there was only one possible outcome of the final Challenge Cup sixth round encounter as the Huddersfield Giants played hosts to the league leaders St Helens.
Saints are currently sixteen points, and eight places, ahead of the Giants in the league table and won by a convincing 40-12 margin when the two sides met back in March.
Saints named the same seventeen which beat Hull KR last weekend but the Giants were without McGillvary, Uate, Lawrence, and Russell from the side which lost by a single point to Wakefield Trinity last time out.