RARELY has a business end to a season thrown up as many fascinating positional possibilities as those that will be unveiled over the next few weeks in rugby league’s Betfred League 1.
Take Oldham as an example. They’ve five games left and three of them are against opponents who, like Roughyeds, are still hopeful of a top-two finish.
The winners get promoted, the runners-up have massive advantages in a five-club play-off that will provide a second side to go up to the Championship.
Oldham’s home games against Newcastle and Doncaster, inspired by Rangi Chase, will be crucial on August 11 and 18 respectively and if games like that can’t pack numbers into the Vestacare Stadium then none will.
There are many others of equal significance around the league.
Leaders Whitehaven have still to go to Hunslet and have still to play deadly rivals Workington at home in 80 minutes of derby-day rugby that has the potential to produce anything.
The Hunslet-Oldham game on the last day of the regular season could have heaps riding on it.
The Oldham game apart, Newcastle look to have the easiest run-in under the directorship of Denis Betts and the coaching of Simon Finnigan, but nothing can be taken for granted.
The one sure thing is this; it’s going to be one heck of a battle over the next few weeks so sit back, fasten your safety belts, and enjoy the Big Dipper of Betfred League 1 between now and play-off promotion final day on October 6.
Clubs with a realistic chance of aiming high and going up have these to play:
- WHITEHAVEN (23 points): Hunslet (a), Workington (h), Keighley (a), West Wales Raiders (h), Coventry (a).
- NEWCASTLE (21 points): West Wales (a), OLDHAM (a), Coventry (h), North Wales Crusaders (h), Keighley (a).
- OLDHAM (20 points): London Skolars (a), Newcastle (h), Doncaster (h), Coventry (a), Hunslet (a).
- DONCASTER (18 points): — only four, London Skolars (h), OLDHAM (a), Keighley (h), Workington (a).
- HUNSLET (18 points): six here — Whitehaven (h), North Wales Crusaders (h), Keighley (a), London Skolars (a), Workington (h), OLDHAM (h).
- WORKINGTON TOWN (16 points), only four — Whitehaven (a), West Wales Raiders (h), Hunslet (a), Doncaster (h).
- LONDON SKOLARS (15 points), only four — OLDHAM (h), Doncaster (a), Hunslet (h), North Wales Crusaders (a).