Carl Ablett: Castleford Tigers deserve to be top after a regular season to savour

Luke Gale celebrates his team-mates after the victory over Salford. Picture: Matthew Merrick.
Luke Gale celebrates his team-mates after the victory over Salford. Picture: Matthew Merrick.
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THE REGULAR season is done and dusted so this week I thought I would give my assessment of how the 12 Super League teams fared.

1: Castleford Tigers

Leeds Rhinos' players celebrate their victory over Hull FC.

Leeds Rhinos' players celebrate their victory over Hull FC.

They have obviously been the stand-out team this year. They play a great brand rugby league and score plenty of tries, but their defence has gone under the radar.

The defend really well and deserve to be where they are at this stage.

2: Leeds Rhinos

We are pretty happy. We would like to be closer to Cas and there’s been a few games we’ve been disappointed with, but defensively we’ve been strong.

There is definitely more to come from us with the ball and hopefully over the next two or three months you’ll start to see the best of us.

3: Hull FC

They have been a bit up and down, but they are in a Challenge Cup semi-final and third in the league so I think they’ll be reasonably happy.

They have had a couple of blow-out scores, but a lot of their games have been quite tight.

The experience they gained last year will do them a world of good when it comes to the big matches.

4: Salford Red Devils

They have been the surprise package up to now. At the start of the season I don’t think anyone expected them to be in the top-four.

They play with the ball and they are a decent team to watch. They have some standout players, particularly Ben Murdoch-Masila and some real work horses.

5: Wakefield Trinity

If anyone had offered them fifth place after 23 rounds I think most of their fans would have taken that.

They will be disappointed to have missed out on the top-four right at the end, but they are another decent team to watch who play the right way and have some exciting players.

Chris Chester and John Kear have done a great job and they’ll definitely be a threat in the Super-8s.

6: St Helens

They have had a difficult year, but you can never write them off. They’ve had a change of coach and been very up and down, but there’s been some gradual improvement since the new coach took over and they are finding some form at the right time.

Saints know how to play in big games and if they get into the top-four they will be dangerous.

7: Wigan Warriors

They’ve probably suffered more than anyone else with injuries and I think they are still trying to find their identity and the way they play with Sam Tomkins and Thomas Leuluai back in the side.

They haven’t clicked on attack, but are strong defensively and are capable of putting a run together which could get them into the top-four.

8: Huddersfield Giants

They endured a tough start and the pressure was on their coach Rick Stone, but they have had some good results over the last couple of months and I imagine they’ll be delighted to be in the top-eight.

They probably won’t make it into the top-four, but can be a threat to some teams who do fancy their chances.

9: Warrington Wolves

With Kevin Brown coming in and after the way they played in the World Club Series everyone expected them to be up there challenging again, but their season shows what a few early losses can do to you. You lose a bit of confidence and it’s hard to get back on track. Warrington will want to attack the middle-eights and build some momentum to take into next year.

10: Catalans Dragons

They are another team that has under-performed, costing their coach his job.

Steve McNamara is a good appointment and I think he will turn things around. They won’t find it easy in the middle-eights, but I expect them to be too strong for most sides in that league.

11: Leigh Centurions

When we went there early on the place was bouncing and they we expecting big things, but they’ve found it tough in Super League and they are still adjusting.

They know all about the middle-eights and what it takes to get the job done in that competition, but they won’t find it easy.

12: Widnes Vikings

Injuries have had a big bearing on their season and they don’t have the biggest of squads.

They do have some exciting youngsters and if they can keep hold of them for the next three or four years there’s some real potential there.

But for them it’s about the here and now in the middle-eights and I think that’s going to be a tough competition.