So, six teams have been eliminated from the proceedings in Super League. It’s surprising for some of the teams to not be contesting in the playoffs, but in all the cases the key trend was a lack of consistency. None of these sides performed well enough for long enough, and that’s why they won’t be joining in the festivities in September and October.
It’s probably no surprise that Salford and Celtic Crusaders failed to make it to the playoffs. Celtic in particular didn’t start off as badly as many people thought, but their season basically stumbled beyond mediocrity into farce with various off-field problems barely distracting from some poor showings on it. Salford will be frustrated, because an awful start which made them seem truly out of their depth eventually turned into a series of competitive games and wins over each of the top three sides. They could be a side to surprise a few people next year, but it’ll depend on good recruiting.
Hull FC and Bradford will be very disappointed to not make the top 8 as they would feel that they are big clubs, but quite frankly both sides let themselves down big time. Hull started like a rocket, only to run out of fuel really early on and have stuttered ever since. Bradford had the opposite problem, starting terribly before almost performing a miracle. Had Les Catalans not found a way to win at St Helens, they would be contemplating a game next weekend. Both sides will definitely be aiming for the playoffs next year, and they probably both need to if they want to continue calling themselves big clubs. Hull’s recruitment in particular seems risky, with definite quality players coming in, but Sean Long and Craig Fitzgibbon aren’t exactly spring chickens.
Harlequins will probably be the most disappointed side not in the playoffs, because a few months ago they were locks to have a home playoff game at some stage. Their collapse since their win at Hull KR has been startling and alarming, particularly after such a successful start. There are clear issues that need to be addressed in the offseason and you have to wonder what their chances of climbing up the table next year are, which seems odd considering they seemed like a decent outside bet to win the thing a few months ago.
That leaves Warrington, who might just be the most content with their finish. I don’t mean that Wire will be happy with finishing outside the playoffs, especially as they seemed like they were going to make it a few months ago until their season started to falter at the end. However, they did win the Challenge Cup and you got the feeling that their priorities lay at Wembley, which might explain their poor run-in. Tony Smith has clearly made strides there, and with a full preseason and some already ambitious recruiting, Warrington seem the most likely side right now to make a major leap next year
Anyway, I’ll be looking at each side more closely and introducing my latest innovation: the Seasonogram, a graph detailing the form of each side during the year (translation: I was ill last week and needed something to occupy my mind). As each team finishes the season, we’ll have a piece for them. Will six teams already down, they should have pieces up in the next few days.