Super League top eight finalised
A review of the weekend's action in Super League XVIII, as the top eight for the play-offs were decided.
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A Rangi Chase masterclass ended Bradford's top-eight hopes and finalised the make-up of the Super League play-off series.
Castleford withstood a late onslaught by the visitors to secure a nailbiting 46-34 victory which means both Hull and Hull KR will participate in the end-of-season play-offs, which the Bulls will miss out on for the fifth successive year.
Trailing 40-24, Bradford struck back with late tries from Elliot Kear and Danny Addy to cut the gap to just six points before Jamie Ellis' try in the last move of the game finally settled the 14-try bonanza.
St Helens continued their excellent recent run of results by seeing off Wakefield for their fifth win in a row.
Nathan Brown's men are running into form at the right time of the season and they moved back into fifth in the Super League after tries from Anthony Laffranchi, Adam Swift, the returning Sia Soliola, Jonny Lomax and Lance Hohaia helped them to a 26-12 victory at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.
They were far from convincing, however, and Reece Lyne and Kyle Amor's tries - along with Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook being sent to the sin bin in the closing stages - gave Wakefield a sniff of victory.
Huddersfield edged closer to securing their first ever Super League Leaders' Shield with a 26-12 victory over London Broncos on Saturday.
Having seen rivals Warrington lose 16-6 at home to Widnes on Thursday, the Giants knew victory at bottom side Broncos would open up a three-point lead at the top of the table.
Scores from Aaron Murphy, Ukuma Ta'ai and Eorl Crabtree racked up an 18-0 lead midway through the second half, with scrum-half Danny Brough adding six points with the boot.
But the hosts battled back in their final home game of the season with efforts from James Woodburn-Hall and Alex Hurst making it a nervy finish for Huddersfield.
Brough was subsequently helped from the field clutching his shoulder, an ominous sign with the play-offs looming, before a late penalty from Scott Grix and a fourth try from Dale Ferguson eased the jitters for the Giants.
Catalan Dragons are safe in the play-offs for this season after they ensured Wigan will head to Wembley smarting after a 22-8 defeat.
The Perpignan side knew a win would put them eight points clear of Bradford with the Bulls having just three games to play and, with their mission complete, it is now a three-way fight for the last play-off spot between the West Yorkshire club and the two Hull clubs.
None of that will be of concern to either of these sides, though, with Wigan heading to the capital to meet Hull in a week in the Challenge Cup Final, knowing their chances of finishing top of the table are now over.
Freddie Vaccari crashed over for an opening score which was approved by the video referee, but Scott Taylor bulldozed through for Wigan's leveller.
Veteran Steve Menzies pushed his way over in his farewell season to restore the French side's lead and Eloi Pelissier put them further out of sight with a third try.
Hull KR boosted their play-off hopes with a stunning 16-12 win over champions Leeds Rhinos at Headingley on Friday night.
Rovers bounced back from their Hull derby home defeat in spectacular style, producing a tremendous defensive stint to keep the Rhinos at bay in a tense and thrilling finish.
Craig Sandercock's men remain eighth but need just one more win from their last two matches to guarantee their play-off spot, while Leeds missed the chance to consolidate a top-four finish after losing for the first time in five matches.
Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield went through the 3,000 Super League points barrier and there was little hint of what was to come when Leeds' promising loose forward Liam Sutcliffe burst through the attempted tackle of Rhys Lovegrove and Michael Dobson to get centre Kallum Watkins over for the game's first try on 19 minutes.
The visitors levelled when second rower Jordan Cox regained possession from Dobson's high kick to touch down and then Lovegrove proved unstoppable from 15 metres out and Dobson's second conversion put his side into a 12-6 interval lead.
Dobson increased his side's advantage with a penalty three minutes into the second half and kicked a second penalty after 58 minutes to make it 16-6.
James Duckworth, on his home debut, calmly gathered to get Watkins over for his second try to give Leeds hope but Rovers held on.
Hull FC warmed up for their Challenge Cup final date with Wigan next weekend with a tense 18-13 victory over Salford at the KC Stadium.
Ryan McGoldrick's early try gave Salford the lead before Joe Arundel levelled when he crossed.
The Reds led at half-time though after a Danny Williams score before Aaron Heremaia tied the scores with a second-half effort, and a late flurry of action finished with Joe Westerman's late winning try.
On Thursday, 12-man Widnes produced the biggest shock of the Super League season to deny Warrington the chance to go top of the table.
The Wolves were on a roll after nine straight wins but they paid the price for a slipshod display in wet conditions at the Halliwell Jones Stadium as Widnes overcame the dismissal of forward Hep Cahill to complete a derby double.
The Vikings were forced to play for more than half the game a man short after Cahill was shown a red card by referee Phil Bentham for a high and late tackle that left Warrington full-back Brett Hodgson bleeding and badly concussed.
Widnes had earlier also lost hooker Grant Gore with a broken kneecap but they stunned their title-chasing hosts with a superb second-half display, with 19-year-old winger Jack Owens scoring 12 of their 16 points.