Written by Callum Walker
The quality has perhaps sometimes been lacking in recent years, but there is no lack of excitement in Super League 2019.
Just eight points separates Catalans Dragons in 4th to London Broncos in 12th with London, Hull KR and Leeds Rhinos all on 12 points.
It seems at present that anyone can beat anyone as evidenced at the weekend with Hull KR beating Warrington, London beating Catalans and the week before, London beating St Helens.
Despite the scrapping of the much-maligned Super 8s competition, the competitiveness has increased regardless of the fact that just one side faces the drop. There are no dead rubber games as critics of the one up, one down believed there would be and more than half of the Super League sides are still in danger of relegation over halfway through the season.
London’s promotion was initially met with cries of confidence from the rest of the top flight. A side that had finished second in the Championship to runaway winners Toronto were surely no match for the cream of the Rugby League crop.
Head coach Danny Ward and his players, however, have had other ideas. St Helens, Wigan, Leeds, Wakefield (twice) and now Catalans have all fallen foul of the Broncos. Perhaps London have been underestimated, but very few expected the capital side to be in with a shout of surviving, let alone competing with the very best.
London’s opening day 42-24 victory over Wakefield was classed as “beginners’ luck”, and, one could have been forgiven to have this opinion as their next three games yielded three losses. Yet, an 18-16 triumph over Wigan led the rest of Super League to sit up and take note before the same margin of victory over fellow strugglers Leeds proved the Broncos were not just there to make up the numbers.
A lot of sides in the top tier are currently underperforming – make no mistake – with the likes of Wakefield – a five game losing run – and Castleford – just two wins in eight – enduring rotten spells of form. Whilst fans of such teams may be getting worried, it has only heightened the excitement for the neutral.
At the top end of the table St Helens are in command, six points in front of second-placed Warrington. But, as Saints know from their experiences in 2018, a first-placed finish does not necessarily mean a Grand Final victory. As the bottom end is still taking shape, so is the top five with only St Helens and Warrington appearing guaranteed of a top five spot. That leaves the rest of Super League to fight for the remaining three places.
People can’t predict the side to be relegated nor the sides to finish in the top five in 2019. With 18 rounds already played and 11 remaining before the business end of the season approaches, What will happen? No one really knows, but it’s going to be one of the most interesting ends to a Super League season for a very long time.