As the end of the season draws ever near, the Super 8s stage crossed the halfway point with round four which featured an historic first as Wigan took their home game on the road to London.
The round opened on Thursday night at the John Smith's Stadium as Huddersfield Giants hosted fellow top four hopefuls Castleford Tigers with both keen to put pressure on St Helens in the race for the play-offs.
A great start for the Tigers saw them open up a 10-0 lead inside 15 minutes with a self-converted effort from Luke Gale on 11 minutes followed by a try from Ash Gibson. Huddersfield responded superbly with four tries in the space of eight minutes as Ukuma Ta'ai and Jake Connor crossed either side of a brace from Jermaine McGillvary.
However, just the first and last efforts were converted by Danny Brough for a 20-10 lead.Aaron Murphy extended the Giants' lead further just before the interval for a 24-10 half-time advantage but the Tigers were quick to cut the gap as Luke Dorn crossed just three minutes after the restart with Gale converting for 24-16.
Ben Roberts narrowed the score further just after the hour mark as he crossed for 24-20 but three tries in ten minutes from Joe Wardle, Jamie Ellis (Ellis conv) and Eorl Crabtree pushed the Giants lead to 20 at 40-20. Despite the result being settled, Denny Solomona gave the Tigers some joy in the final seconds with a stunning full length effort which Gale converted for a 40-26 final score.
After a stroll to Challenge Cup success, Leeds Rhinos returned to league duties on Friday night with a hosting of St Helens at Headingley with the Saints looking to avoid a fourth defeat against their rivals this season while boosting their play-off hopes.
A superb start for the visitors saw Tommy Makinson score a third minute opener which Luke Walsh converted for 6-0. Leeds drew level on 18 minutes as Jimmy Keinhorst crossed and Kevin Sinfield converted for 6-6. St Helens regained the lead within three minute through Josh Jones with Walsh converting before adding a penalty on 31 minutes for 14-6. Mitch Achurch ensured a close score into the interval with a last-gasp try which Sinfield improved for 14-12 into the break.
However, Walsh crossed for a self-converted try just six minutes after the restart to push the lead to 20-12 before a try just before the hour mark from Adam Quinlan which Walsh converted saw the Saints lead by 14 at 26-12. Leeds remained in the hunt with a try from Ryan Hall (Sinfield conv) with ten minutes remaining but the win, the Saints first of the 8s was sealed on 78 minutes as Jon Wilkin crossed with Walsh kicking for a 32-16 final score.
Saturday afternoon saw Catalans Dragons make a shorter away trip than usual as they visited London, Wigan Warriors played hosted at Milwall's The Den in a unique 'On the Road' experiment with a focus on boosting support and business in the capital.
A mixed start for both sides in new settings saw Ben Flower open the scoring for the Warriors with Matt Bowen converting for 6-0 on 15 minutes. Krisnan Inu replied for the Dragons within four minutes with Scott Dureau levelling with the boot for 6-6. A superb effort from Bowen which he then converted saw Wigan lead 12-6 on 24 minutes, a lead which remained into the half-time interval.
However, Catalans took just two minutes to draw level again as a clever move from Dureau saw him cross the try line before converting with ease for 12-12. Wigan opened up a two score lead before the hour as Bowen claimed his second try before a second try in as many games from Oliver Gildart saw Bowen convert both for 24-12.
Jordan Sigismeau cut the gap to 24-16 before two tries in four minutes from Josh Charnley and Larne Patrick (Bowen convs) saw Wigan in control at 30-16 and their joy was extended as Dom Manfredi confirmed sweet revenge for the humiliating reverse meeting in May with a try which brought up 40 points. Bowen completed a man of the match performance with a seventh successful conversion for a 22 point haul in a comfortable 42-16 triumph.
Sunday's action came from the Halliwell Jones Stadium as Warrington Wolves hosted Hull FC with the Wolves looking for their first win of the 8s in a clash between two sides now unable to reach the play-offs.
A quick start from the Wolves saw Kevin Penny strike inside six minutes with his effort converted by Chris Sandow for 6-0 before a try from Dean Hadley was converted by Marc Sneyd to level at 6-6 on 13 minutes. However, Warrington raced clear at 22-6 after three scores in four minutes as Gary Wheeler and Ben Currie scored ahead of a second for Penny with Sandow converting just the first two efforts.
The hosts maintained their advantage into the interval and extended it further with a hat-trick try for Penny on 49 minutes ahead of an effort from Ryan Atkins and a second from Wheeler before the hour with two Sandow conversions pushing the score to 38-6. Joel Monaghan crossed to bring up 40 points at 42-6 before a two minute brace from Mark Minichello (Sneyd conv) gave FC some joy at 42-16 but they were to slip to a 40 point deficit as Monaghan claimed his second try for a 46-16 final score.