For minor premiers St Helens the Friday night round twenty-seven game against the Castleford Tigers was all about getting back on the bike after last weeks massive disappointment at Wembley, where they arrived as favourites and were totally outplayed.

For Castleford Tigers the game was all about a massive two points in their quest to be part of the 2019 play-off series. A win would lift the visitors into fifth place and a win by more than twenty-two points would lift them into third.

Saints were without Lachlan Coote and Dominique Peyroux while Cory Aston and Tuoyo Egodo were omitted from Daryl Powells side.

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After last Saturdays' superb Challenge Cup win over St Helens, the Warrington Wolves could be forgiven for poor preparation ahead of tonights Super League round twenty-seven encounter with the Salford Red Devils. But despite the fastest of turnarounds it was essential that they backed up their cup victory with another win to assist them in their quest for second spot.

The prize for Salford could not have been bigger. A win would lift them into third ahead of the rest of the weekends games, but a win by twenty-four points of more would see the home side go above their opponents tonight and into second spot, poised for an assault on Old Trafford.

It was a game of massive importance to both sides.

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After a stunning Challenge Cup final the attention turned to the final of the inaugural 1895 Cup between the Sheffield Eagles and Widnes Vikings as both sides chased a piece of silverware to cap what will ultimately be a 2019 of league alsorans.

Widnes sprang a surprise and beat the Leigh Centurions in the semi-final to get to the showpiece final, the location where they made four Challenge Cup finals, and win two, in the eighties and nineties. The Eagles triumphed over the Batley Bulldogs to take their place at Wembley, the site of their finest hour when they lifted the Challenge Cup back in 1998.

Widnes were slight favourites for the win but both sides had a win apiece in the two games played in the league in 2019.

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If you listened to the pundits, the bookies and the neutral fans, then there was only one side who would be lifting the Challenge Cup at the end of eighty Wembley minutes, runaway league leaders St Helens. But this is the Cup, and it’s a funny old thing, and anything could happen.

Warrington are the side with the recent Challenge Cup pedigree having figured in five finals, winning three since, since Saints were last represented in this auspicious event. The top two sides in Super League met in the first final of the year, with many believing that they will also meet at Old Trafford in October.

This was the fourth meeting between these two sides in 2019 with Saints having emerged victorious on every occasion, the most recent being a 30-12 win just over a fortnight ago. Both sides ran onto the sun baked field with the neutrals hoping that it would be more competitive than it appeared on paper.

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It wouldn’t be a Challenge Cup final weekend without the now traditional Friday Night Lights encounter at London Skolars, this season the opposition being Betfred League One fourth placed side Hunslet.

The 4G pitch at the New River Stadium in Wood Green, a ten mile drive around the North Circular, always attracts a good following of diehard Rugby League supporters down in the nationals capital to make a weekend of it.

But two important league points were up for grabs as Hunslet looked to cement their play-off spot while a loss would spell the end of the Skolars chase for the play-offs and the second promotion spot for another season.

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This weekend’s Betfred Championship fixtures were overshadowed by the tragic death of Archie Bruce the young Batley Bulldogs player who was found dead in his hotel room in the early hours of Sunday morning, following his debut against Toulouse Olympique XIII in the south of France on Saturday evening. The whole of the rugby league community grieves with Archie’s family and the Bulldogs.

Saturday’s other game saw relegated Rochdale travel to Toronto, while the rest of the games took place on Sunday afternoon.

Leigh and Widnes met at the LSV while, on paper,  the game of the afternoon was  fourth placed York City Knights against the Featherstone Rovers. Sheffield were at home to Barrow, Halifax travelled to Swinton and there was a local derby in Dewsbury where Bradford were the visitors.

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If today’s encounter between relegation prospects Hull KR and Wakefield Trinity wasn’t already important enough, yesterdays shock win for the London Broncos in the south of France made it doubly so.

Just four games remain in the 2019 season and a win for either of these sides, who entered the game level on league ladder points, would be a massive step towards safety for 2020. A loss, on the other hand, would leave them deeply mired in the relegation dogfight.

KR were bolstered by the returns of Mitch Garbutt, Craig Hall, Kane Linnett and importantly Danny McGuire. Trinity gave a debut for loan signing Chris Green from Hull.

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The Super League team currently at the bar and taking a slurp from their glass in the ‘Last Chance Saloon’ are the London Broncos. The have travelled to the heat of the South of France to take on a Catalans Dragons who have an eye on a top five position and a play-off finish.

The Broncos had already beaten the Dragons in Perpignan and the home side took a big beating at London’s fellow strugglers the Leeds Rhinos last weekend. The bookies were favouring a home win but Danny Ward’s side knew that a win would keep them in touch with their fellow fighters to avoid the relegation spot.

The home side made a few changes in the pack after last weeks loss but London named the same starting thirteen who took the points on their last vist to the Stade Gilbert Brutus.

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Warrington Wolves, without a league win in over a month, knew that the ideal preparation for next weekends Challenge Cup Cup Final would be a big win against fourth placed Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium.

The Warriors knew that a win would lift them level on points with their opponents, and into third place with just a handful of games left until the play-offs.

Both coaches made a number of changes with Tom Lineham returning for the Wolves after suspension, with a second game for loan signing Matty Smith against the side for which he made 139 appearances. The Warriors were without Ben Flower and Joe Burgess.

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With St Helens already crowned as minor premiers, and with the Challenge Cup final and Grand Final play-offs just around the corner, they could be forgiven for easing off the gas. The Rhinos hoped that they could continue a two game winning run, which has lifted them out of the immediate danger of relegation.

Another win would see the Rhinos within a couple of points of safety and they also went into the game needing an eighteen points winning margin to get back to a positive points difference, worth an extra point in the bottom of the table shakedown.

The only change for the Rhinos was on the bench with Nathan Peteru brought in to replace the suspended Brad Singleton who was sent off against the Catalans Dragons last weekend and received a two game ban. Saints have Morgan Knowles back but are without Alex Walmsley, Lachlan Coote and James Roby.

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