Many commentators and fans would have you believe that today's game in Toronto was simply to determine who would have home advantage in the crucial promotion play-off Grand Final in a fortnights time, although Featherstone Rovers might have something to say about that next weekend.
The two sides which have dominated the 2019 Betfred Championship, Toronto Wolfpack and Toulouse Olympique XIII knew that victory today would both set them up with the home advantage for a fortnights time, and establish some momentum ahead of the Super League promotion game.
Toronto have won on two of the three occasions that the sides have met in 2019, the most recent being a 28-16 win in June. But Toulouse do know how to win against the Canadians, they recorded a 46-16 win back in March, Toronto’s only defeat of the season. The bookies, however, fancied a Toronto win.
Betfred One knockout football was hosted in Newcastle as the Thunder took on Workington Town for a last semi-final place against Doncaster next weekend.
There was a couple of belting matches between these two sides on back to back weekends earlier in the season which saw Workington triumph on both occasions but only by the narrowest of two and one point margins. When the sides last met it was at Kingston Park when it was the home side who scored a 48-10 win on the 30th June.
Newcastle finished the season eight points ahead of todays opponents and were favourites for the win today and the chance to have another shot at Doncaster, especially as Workington only arrived with a squad of fourteen players.
Oldham entertained Doncaster in the first semi-final in the Betfred Championship One play-offs, the winner going forwards into the promotion Grand Final and the loser having a final bite of the cherry next week against the winners of Newcastle and Workington.
Oldham had both home advantage, and that of a week off by virtue of them finishing the regular season in second place, six points ahead of this afternoons opponents. Doncaster came into the game on the back of an excellent performance at Newcastle last week when they overcame the odds to win todays chance.
The sides have met on three occasions in 2019 with Doncaster taking the spoils on the first two occasions, however, the last meeting was dominated by Oldham who recorded a 40-14 win. It really was anyones game.
Two sides with contracting fortunes in the opening week of the play-offs came together for a sudden death eliminator at Bootham Crescent, as the York City Knights took on a Featherstone Rovers side who outplayed Leigh Centurions last weekend.
Featherstone comprehensively won two of the three meetings between the two sides in 2019, although it was the City Knights who won the most recent encounter, by a narrow 22-18 scorline.
One of these sides would be ending the season here and taking a well earned rest after a long season, the other would be going forward for an international trip to either Toulouse or Toronto to play in the second semi-final to keep their hopes alive.
While neither the Wigan Warriors nor the Salford Red Devils would be eliminated from the competition as a result of tonights game, a victory would give a massive confidence boost ahead of next weeks semi-final against St Helens for a place in the final.
Salford have exceeded most expectations in 2019 and thoroughly deserve their third placed finish. After an awful start to the season, Adrian Lam’s Wigan have performed brilliantly to secure second spot.
The Red Devils are unbeaten in their last eight but have only won once in their last twenty-one visits to the DW Stadium. Salford have lost all three meetings against the Warriors in 2019 but the first two by less than ten points. The home side were clear favourites, but the play-offs have warned us to expect the unexpected.
Kings of the knockout in 2019, the Warrington Wolves, came up against the Castleford Tigers in the first Elimination play-off at the Halliwell-Jones. A loss tonight would see an exit from the competition at the first hurdle, the winners could live to dream another week of Old Trafford on the 12th October.
The sides have met three times previously in the current season of Super League with the Wolves winning the first two games, but the Tigers picking up a victory in the most recent meeting at the end of July. Neither side were in great form with the visitors only winning three of their last six games, while Warrington have lost four of their last six.
The home side were odds-on favourites for the win, but the Tigers faithful were in attendance hoping that their side could finally register an away win in the Super League play-offs.
It was knock-out football as the Betfred Championship Play-Offs arrived at Leigh Sports Village, where fifth placed Featherstone Rovers met the Leigh Centurions for the priviledge of a semi-final encounter against the York City Knight next weekend.
Both sides were without some key players as they went into a nerve-wracking sudden death battle. The last time that they met was in West Yorkshire when Rovers secured a 24-20 win but when Rovers visited the LSV in February it was the home side who took the win with a 29-20 victory.
Leigh were big favourites with the bookies but this was knockout football, anything could happen.
With Whitehaven already promoted to the Betfred Championship for 2020 it was time to find out who would be joining them to replace the relegated Rochdale and Barrow.
Fourth placed Doncaster were up against third placed Newcastle for the chance to travel to Oldham next weekend to secure a place in the League One play off final.
Both encounters between these two sides during the regular league season were close affairs with honours shared with one win apiece. The margins were just six points and a single drop goal so there was plenty of promise of a close game.
While the loser of todays Betfred Championship play off match between Toulouse Olympique XIII and the York City Knights would get a second bite of the cherry, the winners would go to Toronto knowing that a victory would see them into the Championship Play Off Final and a 50:50 chance of making Super League.
Just one league point separated these two teams at the end of twenty-seven regular rounds but Toulouse won both encounters in 2019, albeit by close scorelines. Both sides came into the game with just one defeat each in their last nine outings and despite the weather conditions favouring the home side the stage was set for a battle royal between two sides who wanted to earn that trip to Toronto.
The drinks were being poured in the last chance saloon and the fat lady was going through her scales as Wakefield Trinity welcomed the London Broncos for the last game of the regular Super League season. It would be a devastating Friday 13th for one of four sides, and both of tonights opponents were in the mix.
While the maths were far from simple, a win for either side guaranteed them safety and a 2020 season playing the Super League. Wakefield would be safe, even if they sustain a loss, providing one of either Huddersfield (v. The Catalans Dragons) or Hull KR (v. Salford Red Devils) also lost their game tonight.
It was bound to be a nerve tingling night for the supporters of all four clubs in danger of the drop.