1st August 2018, 09:19 | ncl
Alastair Hancock looks ahead to Saturday's round of fixtures, picking out the biggest ties as the race for the top six and automatic promotion heats up across the four divisions in the National Conference League.
With Hunslet Club Parkside being crowned League winners last weekend, the attention now turns to the race for the top six and relegation in the Premier Division.
Siddal host Kells and both teams have different aims with just five games remaining of the season.
The home side sit in sixth spot on 18 points - the same tally as fifth place Wath Brow Hornets. Two points for Siddal will see them tighten their place in the top six, as Underbank Rangers are chasing them down with one point separating them.
In comparison, Kells have the task of surviving the drop but a win on Saturday would give them great confidence of achieving that. Kells are 10th and six points ahead of Wigan St Pats who are 11th, however, maximum points against Siddal would see them climb the table – depending on other results around them.
In the previous meeting between the sides, Kells came out on top with a 26-18 triumph. Can they complete the double win or will Siddal stamp their authority in the top six?
There’s a heavyweight clash in Division One this weekend as second place Leigh take on Lock Lane who are third.
Five points separate these two teams with the Miners just two off leaders Thornhill Trojans who have 28 from 16 games. Two points for Leigh would see them move level on points at the top with Thornhill but that will only happen if the Trojans’ lose to Featherstone Lions.
A win for Lock Lane would be vital in their quest to finish the season in the top six as they still have to face Thornhill, fifth place Milford Marlins and seventh place York Acorn.
More importantly though, it would close the gap to Leigh to just three points with four games to go and Lock Lane edged a tight affair in the last game between the sides as they won 30-22.
Will the race for automatic promotion to the Premier Division heat up or can Leigh extend the gap and move closer to a League winners finish?
The race for promotion and the top six in Division Two is intriguing as 10 points separate Dewsbury and Saddleworth but just three teams come between them.
The Maroons are third on 24 points – level with second place Crosfields and four points behind the leaders Stanningley.
Rangers are sit seventh and are just two points behind Askam who currently occupy sixth place.
A win for either side would boost their hopes of promotion with Dewsbury aiming for automatic. Two points for Saddleworth would see them move into the top six, depending on Askam’s result against Hull Dockers.
Saddleworth took a 29-16 victory when the sides last met in May and similar on Saturday could be crucial in their pursuit of possible promotion, as they still have to play teams that are currently in the top six - Stanningley, Askam and Crosfields.
Can Dewsbury close the gap on top spot and make a statement of automatic promotion contenders or will Saddleworth climb into the all-important top six?
Millom host Waterhead Warriors on Saturday knowing a win would cement their place in the top six and would close the gap on second place Barrow Island.
The home side are fourth on 20 points – two behind third place Clock Face Miners and four behind Barrow but a victory against Waterhead would increase their hopes of automatic promotion to Division Two.
The Warriors are 10th and six points behind Eastmoor Dragons who currently hold sixth spot. With a game in hand on the Dragons and six still to play including Saturday’s clash with Millom, it is still mathematically possible for Waterhead to reach the top six but it would take an almighty task, as other results would have to swing their way massively.
However, four of the six teams left to play are positioned around the Warriors so a win on Saturday could be pivotal in how their campaign ends.
The side’s last met in May and it was Millom who took the points with an 18-30 win.
Millom’s Ethan Kelly could be the one to watch after scoring 13 tries in 15 appearances and taking six MOM accolades so far this year.