On their quest for a Super League return, Bradford Bulls make the short trip to Batley Bulldogs for the Championship playoff eliminators, with Halifax Panthers going up against Whitehaven to complete a Saturday double-header.
With top-two Toulouse and Featherstone Rovers – who both streaked away from the field at a canter in the regular season – awaiting the victors at the semi-final stage, the fight for the sole ticket to rugby league’s top flight begins in earnest on Saturday at 3:15pm at the Bulldogs’ Fox’s Biscuits Stadium, before action moves to Halifax’s Shay Stadium from 5:30pm.
The Bulls come into Saturday’s clash on the back of a less-than-promising run of form, following successive defeats to Toulouse, Widnes and Whitehaven – with the French side running in 60 points at Odsal.
Having finished fifth in the regular-season standings, the four-time Super League champions and thrice World Club Challenge winners will face the higher-ranked Toulouse in the event of victory, unless Whitehaven, sixth, can overcome third-placed Halifax away from home.
Their West Yorkshire neighbours, however, also faltered towards the latter end of term, winning just one of their last five league fixtures and, crucially, losing 19-6 at Whitehaven on September 12th. Conversely, the Cumbrians reach the event after eight wins from nine.
Each playoff tie takes place over just one leg, with the end-of-season event culminating in the Million Pound Game on Sunday 10th October.
Of the six teams taking part in the playoffs, only two – Bradford and Halifax – have competed at the top level before.