As Featherstone took a massive step towards a fourth successive Championship League Leaders Shield, the eyes of Super League should have been on them.
Sadly, and for the Championship as a whole, they weren’t. This was a Wednesday night that should have captured the imagination of the whole of rugby league, televised live on Premier Sports.
The team sitting in second place, three points behind, hosted the team in first place in the penultimate game of the season. The presence of the bonus point adding another twist to the tale, even when deep in to the second half Featherstone had the three points in the bag, they still had to work to deny Sheffield a point, which they did with a try in the dying seconds.
The 40-24 win for Featherstone puts them top of the league on a significantly superior points difference, and they now travel to Hunslet needing a win to confirm top spot once again.
That’s not all. York saw their relegation to Championship 1 confirmed by defeat to Doncaster, but it still leaves four teams – Keighley, Swinton, Hunslet and Barrow – in danger of going down in the second relegation spot.
It presents a final day that promises to be full of twists and turns, but sadly will go unnoticed by many.
For all the off-field and commercial turmoil, the reason we love the game, is because of the product on the pitch. While the quality of the rugby on display may be inferior to that in Super League, of course as a result of the difference between full-time and part-time training, there is no questioning the competitiveness of the division.
Relegation battles and title tussles should be what we’re all talking about. The product is the game itself, and if we can’t sell that, we’ve got no chance.
As it goes, Barrow are currently in the trap zone on 30 points, alongside Hunslet, while Swinton have 31 and Keighley have 32. Barrow host Keighley, Swinton travel to Whitehaven, who themselves still have an outside chance of reaching the play-offs should other results go their way, while Hunslet have that tricky home tie against league leaders elect Featherstone.
Last night’s display, in front of a crowd of just under 4000, should have got heads turning in Super League.
After four years at the top of the tree, albeit only going on to be technically crowned champions once in three attempts, it’s hard to argue that Rovers don’t deserve a tilt at the big boys.