Casting an eye over Leeds and Castleford’s potential rivals...

Gareth Ellis
Gareth Ellis
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LEEDS RHINOS and Castleford Tigers are waiting to learn who they will face in the Betfred Super League semi-finals.

Rhinos, who will finish second in the table, have already secured a home play-off against the team finishing third, on Friday, September 29.

James Roby

James Roby

League leaders Castleford will take on the fourth-placed side at the Jungle 24 hours earlier. The two semi-final winners go on to meet in the title decider at Old Trafford on Saturday, October 7.

Four teams are still in the running for the two remaining semi-final places. Here’s how they shape up.

Hull FC – Third in Super-8s

Hull will secure third place and a semi-final at Leeds if they avoid defeat at Castleford tomorrow. If they are beaten at the Jungle, they will need one of St Helens or Wigan to lose their final game.

Chris Chester

Chris Chester

Strengths: Hull know how to win big games, having beaten Castleford, Leeds and Wigan en-route to retaining the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup. They have a big pack, two hugely influential halves and pace and finishing power in the backs.

Weaknesses: Hull have conceded more points than anyone else in the top five. They sometimes struggle to hang on to a lead and are heavily reliant on certain individuals, particularly their halves and captain Gareth Ellis.

St Helens – Fourth

Points difference means Saints will almost certainly be in the semi-finals if they win at Salford tonight, though other results would decide whether they finish third or fourth.

Strengths: Saints have turned their season around since Justin Holbrook took over as coach in May. Recent recruit Ben Barba is beginning to show his quality, hooker James Roby is in good form and they have the ability to win tight games at the death. Only Castleford – whom they have beaten twice this year – have a better defensive record.

Weaknesses: Saints are the lowest scorers in the top-six and have lost twice at both Headingley and the Jungle this year.

Wigan Warriors – Fifth

If both Hull and Saints win, Wigan are out of contention. If one or both of them slip-up, the defending champions will visit Wakefield on Saturday knowing victory would see them into the top four.

Strengths: Wigan have the experience of winning the title last season, they are still in contention despite a tough year and some young players have impressed.

Weaknesses: They have won fewer than half their league games and inevitably lose without captain Sean O’Loughlin, who was on the casualty list last weekend.

Wakefield Trinity – sixth.

Chris Chester’s Trinity will be out of it if Saints win tonight, but a Saints defeat would leave the door to fourth place wide open.

Strengths: Trinity boast the joint second-best attack in the top-flight. They have few stars, but an outstanding team spirit and are very well-coached.

Weaknesses: The poorest defence in the the top-six and lack of experience in big games at the right end of the table.

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