Super League: Wakefield, Huddersfield, London & Hull KR battle against relegation
|Betfred Super League final round|
|Date: Friday, 13 September Kick-off: 19:45 BST Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC local radio and live text on the BBC Sport website|
After a full regular season of dramatic highs and gut-wrenching lows, only one round of Super League games remains and there is little to separate the bottom four clubs.
For one of Huddersfield, Hull KR, Wakefield and London Broncos, the outcome of that one remaining round will be the difference between survival or relegation.
All four clubs will kick off their final matches at 19:45 BST on Friday, with all four starting on 20 points each in the league ladder. Only points difference separates them, and points difference could be crucial in the final reckoning.
These are the three games which matter for the four teams in danger of the drop:
- Wakefield v London
- Huddersfield v Catalans
- Salford v Hull KR
|Hull Kingston Rovers||-219|
Focus on Belle Vue - the big shoot-out
The main focus will be on the shoot-out between two of those bottom four - Wakefield Trinity v London Broncos.
One part of the equation is simple. If London lose, they are relegated and everyone else can breathe easily.
But who would bet against London pulling off the great escape, given the astonishing season they have had?
This time last year, nobody would have given them much of a chance of even being in Super League in the first place.
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They earned an unexpected promotion by beating Toronto, in Canada, in the Million Pound Game.
But they looked like an average Championship side who had managed to pull off one big victory. Many suggested they might not even win a game this season and were certain for the drop.
The first hint that they could be competitive came in the very first game of the campaign, when they beat Friday's opponents Wakefield.
Other notable scalps include league leaders St Helens (twice), Wigan, Leeds (away) and Catalans (away), and every time they have been written off as finally looking like a busted flush, they bounce back with another against-the-odds victory.
Who else should be afraid?
So if London can pull off the unexpected again on Friday, who should be most afraid of being dumped out of Super League?
Wakefield would clearly be in peril, but their points difference could come to their rescue, because if either Huddersfield or Hull KR failed to win, Trinity would survive.
Huddersfield would seem to have the easier task on paper. They play at home to Catalans and the French side look to have fizzled out in the past few weeks.
Catalans have gone from genuine top-five contenders to also-rans in the matter of a few matches. They have nothing left to play for and the spirit seems to have left them.
But the Dragons' ears will also be ringing after a furious tirade from their owner Bernard Guasch because of lacklustre performances. Maybe, with nothing left to play for, they can put up one last big performance that would stymie the Giants.
Huddersfield are hardly bouncing with confidence either. A win at Hull FC a couple of weeks ago seemed to put them safe, but a drubbing by St Helens last week and the fact that they have been sucked back into a scrap for survival might leave the nerves a little raw ahead of this final game.
Hull KR have had a couple of chances in recent weeks to rise above the frenzy. However, an abject home performance against Wakefield and last week's crushing defeat by London has left them still teetering on the precipice.
And theirs would seem to be the toughest task - away to a Salford side who have been in eye-catching form for many weeks.
Salford also have plenty to play for. They might go into the game with a chance of finishing second, and they will certainly have a crack at finishing third. Either way, they will be at full throttle in their attempt to get the best place possible before the play-offs.
But even if London win and Hull KR lose, there is still a chance for Rovers to survive.
If Huddersfield get beaten by Catalans by 13 points more than Hull KR get beaten by Salford, it would be Huddersfield who go down.
No draws? Not so...
In theory there are no draws in Super League anymore, thanks to golden-point extra-time. But picking up a single point is not entirely out of the equation.
In the event of a tie after 80 minutes, that extra period only lasts for 10 minutes and if there is no breakthrough in that time, then the draw stands.
Imagine if Wakefield and London are level after 80 minutes, but know that results elsewhere mean that if they draw the game, they will both survive.
Could there be an informal truce that sees neither of them seeking an extra-time win? That is too much to compute at the moment.
Whatever happens, it is bound to be a dramatic night of twists and turns, with someone's fate sealed. In a season in which weekly predictions have been regularly confounded, nobody can say with any confidence at this stage as to who is going down.
It is a 'Friday 13th' that means terror and tension for four sets of rugby league fans.