The final eight
Stevo looks at the eight clubs still in the running to be crowned Super League champions of 2010.
Last Updated: 10/09/10 1:12pm
So here we are with the final eight, and what a final eight it is. Looking through the games I think we have one of the most competitive first round of the play-off we have seen for a long time and it should be an intriguing weekend of top-notch rugby.
If you are thinking of having a bet may I suggest you take a long hard look at each team's injury list. At this time of the year that list can make or break a team's chances. Some teams will be missing key players while others will be welcoming back some vital players who will boost their chances. Looking at the list I think we have one of the most competitive first round of the play-off we have seen for a long time and it should be an intriguing weekend of top-notch rugby.
St.Helens v Warrington
7.30pm, Fri, Sky Sports 1HD
This should be a belter of a game. St Helens won a home tie thanks to a late converted try by Keiron Cunningham. The celebrated like they had won the Grand Final - which concerns me a little bit. I know it was the last league game at Knowsley Rd and they celebrated that but I am just a little concerned about that. They cannot have any lapses. Against Castleford they race to a thirty point lead, but then Castleford came back and suddenly it was 30 all. Thankfully the experience of Matt Gidley and Cunningham got them out of it but if they play like they played last week, well I am afraid Warrington will destroy them.
Warrington are a fantastic side and their defence is very impressive indeed. Lee Briers and Michael Monaghan are the men to watch and will run the show for Wolves. They will need some support from their forwards though and they will get that from Ben Westwood who is the grafter. Adrian Morley is also in fine form and his clash with James Graham is going to be huge!
Stevo says: I think Warrington's defence will be the key here. Saints cannot lose concentration as the Wolves will make them pay at every opportunity they get.
Huddersfield v Crusaders
3.30pm, Sat, Sky Sports 1HD
I think this is going to be another great game. Huddersfield are hitting some good form and I think they will have a little too much for the Crusaders. I think their emotional win last week against Hull KR will probably be their Grand Final and it was a wonderful effort. But saying that Brian Noble is a cagey coach and if Huddersfield don't turn up, well then they certainly have the strike power to make Huddersfield pay. They have a very solid pack and they work well as a unit. They play some very entertaining rugby too.
Last year Huddersfield were very disappointing - it looked like they had put their cue on the rack early. However this year I think they could be the underdogs for the Grand Final. If they get their mental state of mind sorted then they could really surprise. There is no doubting their physical presence- they are not called the Giants for nothing and the likes of Eorl Crabtree will lead from the front and they have some good steamers out there. Luke Robinson and Kevin Brown are a great half-back operation, so they certainly have the key players to go all the way.
Stevo says:Huddersfield have got to get off to a good start, they cannot let Crusaders get a sniff in. If they do they could find themselves wanting
Hull v Hull KR
5.30pm, Sat, Sky Sports 1HD
Hull will be boosted by the fact that Lee Radford's suspension has been lifted. Hull really need their skipper for this derby! He is not a spectacular player, he never has been but I tell you what when you don't have him you really miss him!
The value he has of just plugging away and always attacking makes him a real thorn in the opposition's side. He just never stops.
I don't think he will be sucked into anything, he was sucked in by Bailey but he won't be doing that again. He will be concentrating all his energy and power into defence and taking the ball over that advantage line. He will not waste his energy and if Hull KR think they can get him to throw a few punches, then they are sorely mistaken.
Against Leeds you could see that Sean Long and Richard Horne were a little rusty and I guess that was to be expected. They did well considering they were down to 12 men. I think they will be lifted by that performance though and Long and Horne would certainly have benefited from that game.
For KR, well Michael Dobson is their key player. He really needs to get his team moving in the right direction. Clint Newton will be their go to man in the forwards and he will be looking to get them on the front foot.
Stevo says: We know that these two sides lift their game when they meet - and that sometimes overflows a bit. Added to the fact that the loser is out of the Grand Final running, well it is going to be cracker.
Wigan v Leeds
6.30pm, Sun, Sky Sports 1HD
Wigan have scored some fantastic tries and deserve topping the table. Pat Richards has been involved in everything that is good about them. He has been voted the journalists player of the year and I won't be surprised if he wins the Man of Steel, he has equalled Andy Farrell's points record in a season and he has just been phenomenal.
I think the key to it all is that their coach Michael Maguire has been able to get them to play the ball quickly outwide. They do a lot of damage early in the tackle count with the forwards down the middle, but they also have a great linking quality. You look through their three-quarters and they are all in the top ten of the leading try scorers.
Thomas Leuluai has become more of team player for Wigan too, I think that has made a big difference in that linking. The two young Tomkins lads epitomise everything good about Wigan though: they have power, pace and Sam is brilliant outwide.
I think Leeds will target him though. They will apply as much pressure as they can and it will be interesting to see how he reacts.
Stevo says: There are some huge match-ups all over the park but I am especially looking forward to seeing Danny McGuire against Sam Tomkins. Whoever wins this battle will have a huge impact on who wins the game.