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The Weekend Off
Posted by Number 2 on September 19 2007 - 14:57:57

Weekend Off

Time to put the feet up and see what is going on in the rest of the Rugby League world as we take another week off and the playoffs begin, or in the case of the National Leagues continue into a second week.

We take a look at what's ahead in the coming weekend and to give you an insight of whats ahead if you want to get to a game.

Read more here....

Thursday

co-operative National League One Qualifying Semi-Final
Castleford Tigers v Widnes Vikings
The Jungle, 7.35pm. Live on Sky Sports

First meets second at the Jungle as a Grand Final place at Headingley Carnegie is up for grabs. The Tigers are favourites to progress tonight after finishing top of the ladder with only one league defeat all season, a 44-20 defeat by Widnes at the Jungle in May. Meanwhile Widnes lost the return to Castleford 24-18 at the Halton Stadium in August but the Vikings lead 2-1 this season after an 18-12 victory in the Northern Rail Cup Semi Final at the Halton Stadium in June. It really is too close to call this game, it all depends on which team turns up the better prepared on the night. Both are littered with quality players and I think home advantage will see Castleford home.

Prediction: Castleford 22 Widnes 18

Senior Academy Elimination Semi-Final
Leeds Rhinos v Bradford Bulls
Headingley Carnegie Stadium, 7.30pm

Last chance saloon for both side as they play off for the right to meet the losers of the Wigan v Hull qualifier. Bradford won both leage encouters, the second 34-28 at the Grattan Stadium, Odsal at the end of August. Previously the Bulls clawed back a 22-4 half time defecit to win 28-22 at Headingley at the end of June. The Rhinos has a weakened side at Odsal and have been bolstered by the returns of Luke Gale, Simon Worrall and Luke Burgess from a loan spell at Donaster. Entry to this game is free and via the South Stand, if this is the only game you get to this weekend it is sure to be a cracker.

Prediction: Leeds Rhinos 30 Bradford Bulls 26

Friday

engage Super League Play Off Semi-Final
Bradford Bulls v Wigan Warriors
Grattan Stadium, Odsal, 8.00pm. Live on SKY Sports

The road to Old Trafford begins as the Bulls and Warriors lock horns. Despite both teams being deducted competition points for breaching the salary cap both are still in the mixer for a Grand Final spot. Bradford come into the play-offs in faltering form, their results since the Carnegie Challenge Cup Final has seen them draw with Leeds, defeated Wakefield and lose to Hull FC last weekend. Paul Deacon is also a major doubt for the Bulls as well. Wigan are like an express train at the moment, they have won every game since Wembley against Salford City Reds, Hull KR and a first win since 2005 against St Helens last Friday night. They have no significant injury worries going into this game. Its going to be close, Bradford should start as favourites but the possible absence of Deacon is a huge blow for them. Wigan seem to be everybodys dark horses in the race for Old Trafford but Trent Barrett will need to bring his A-game is the Warriors are to progress any further in the competition.

Prediction: Bradford Bulls 18 Wigan Warriors 10

Saturday

Junior Academy Qualifying Semi-Final
St Helens v Leeds Rhinos
Knowsley Road, 2.30pm

St Helens are undefeated so far this season and welcome Leeds to Knowsley Road with a Grand Final place and home advantage up for grabs. Its a tough ask for Leeds to come away with the victory, but should be heartened by the fact the Widnes Vikings went through the league season undefeated last season only to lose both play off games and not even got to the Grand Final. Entry is £4 adults and £2 concessions.

Prediction: St Helens 36 Leeds Rhinos 12

co-operative Conference National Elimination Semi-Final
Warrington Wizards v Huddersfield Underbank
Wilderspool, 2.30pm

Huddersfield Underbank had a fine victory over Dewsbury Celtic last week while the Wizards defeated last seasons Grand Finalists Hemel Stags. Expect home advantage to count in this one.

Prediction: Warrington Wizards 28 Huddersfield Underbank 10

There is a full league program in the National Conference, all games kick off at 2.30pm

Premier Division

Hull Dockers v Eastmoor Dragons
Leigh East v Wigan St Patrick’s
Rochdale Mayfield v Leigh Miners Rangers
Siddal v Castleford Panthers
Thornhill Trojans v West Bowling
West Hull v East Hull

Division One

East Leeds v Eccles & Salford Juniors
Shaw Cross Sharks v Oldham St Anne’s
Thatto Heath Crusaders v Ince Rose Bridge
Wath Brow Hornets v Widnes St Marie’s
Wigan St Jude’s v Saddleworth Rangers
York Acorn v Bradford Dudley Hill

Division Two

Brighouse Rangers v Heworth
Crosfields v Stanley Rangers
Hull Isberg v Ovenden
Milford Marlins v Egremont Rangers
Millom v Stanningley
Normanton Knights v Askam

engage Super League Play Off Semi-Final
Hull FC v Huddersfield Giants
KC Stadium, 7.00pm. Live on SKY Sports

Huddersfield make their first every appearance in the end of the season play-offs as they travel to take on last season's beaten Grand Finalists Hull FC. Huddersfield go into the game on the back of a 1 points loss at Hull KR last Saturday night and a possible season ending injury to captain and full back Chris Thorman, who must still be rated as doubtful for the game. Hull meanwhile come into the game on good form after their crushing derby defeat at the start of the month. Victories over Leeds and Bradford will send Peter Sharp's men into battle in good heart as they look for back to back Old Trafford appearances

Prediction: Hull FC 26 Huddersfield 12

Sunday

co-operative Conference National Qualifying Semi Final
Bramley Buffaloes v Featherstone Lions
Arthur Miller Stadium, 2.30pm

The top two clash at the Arthur Miller Stadium as one team looks to book their place in the Grand Final. Bramley hold the upper hand this season after a 34-12 victory at home in April was followed by at 22-12 success in the return in July. Bramley are looking to make it three straight Grand Final appearances and home advanatage will sway things in favour of the Buffaloes.

Prediction: Bramley Buffaloes 24 Featherstone Lions 8

Senior Academy Qualifying Semi-Final
Wigan Warriors v Hull FC
Edge Hall Road, 2.30pm

First v Second, a place in the Grand Final and home advantage available here for the winners. Wigan have only lost once all season, an opening round defeat to Bradford Bulls and had a narrow 28-26 victory over Hull at Brantingham Park in March before winning the return 36-28 at the end of May. Hull were Grand Final runners-up last season and will be looking to go one better this year.

Prediction: Wigan Warriors 32 Hull FC 20

co-operative National League One Elimination Semi-Final
Halifax v Whitehaven
The Shay, 3.00pm

This will be the team fifth meeting so far this season. 'Haven knocked 'Fax out of both the Carnegie Challenge Cup (36-8) and at the semi-final stage of the Northern Rail Cup (34-19) as well as winning both league encounters (40-24 at The Rec and 26-20 at The Shay). The last time the teams met was in July and that narrow 6 point defeat for Halifax at the Shay but they are one of the form teams coming into the play offs, that game was last time Halifax lost. Whitehaven meanwhile stumbled into the playoffs and a final week defeat at Sheffield ultimately costing them third place in the league. Again its going to be a close encounter as Whitehaven look for a third Grand Final in four years. The winners face a trip to Widnes or Castleford next weekend.

Prediction: Halifax 22 Whitehaven 24

co-operative National League Two Qualifying Semi-Final
Featherstone Rovers v Barrow Raiders
Chris Moyles Stadium, 3,00pm

2nd v 3rd at Post Office Road and first chance to be there on the big day at Headingley Carnegie on the 7th October. The teams split the honours in the league meetings, Featherstone coming out on top at home 37-28 before sending a weakened team to Craven Park on the last day of the season and suffering a 30-4 defeat. Its going to be a lot different when the teams square up to each other on Sunday as Rovers will be going into the game with all their big guns available. Barrow have experice in their pack in the shape of Kiwi Michael Smith (Ex-Hull FC, Hull KR, Castleford and St Helens) and surely must be confident of getting their Grand Final place after their superb performance a fortnight ago.

Prediction: Featherstone Rovers 20 Barrow Raiders 18

co-operative National League Two Elimination Semi-Final
Oldham v Workington Town
Boundary Park, 3.00pm

Oldham and Workington meet after both had emphatic wins in their first round ties last week. Oldham beating Swinton 26-6 and Town accounting for York City Knights 42-2. Oldham will be without Gareth Morton who has left to take a contract up in Rugby Union in Italy and Workington will be without Shaun Lunt who was banned for 4 games by the judiciary after being sent off last weekend. Oldham won both league meetings between the sides, a 27-18 success at Derwent Park in July before a comfortable 44-18 win at Boundary Park in August.

Prediction: Oldham 30 Workington 16

There, you have no excuse not to catch some live Rugby League this weekend. Enjoy any game you may get to.

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