The first weekend of the Super League play-offs showed us just why the current format won’t be missed when it is scrapped next year.
In the two “loser gets another chance” contests, fans were treated to walkovers, as Wigan thumped hopeless Huddersfield 57-4, while St Helens celebrated the night they were presented with the League Leaders Shield by beating Castleford, the team that could have denied them the trophy just a week earlier, 41-0 at Langtree Park.
Contrast that to two gripping contests on Saturday, which saw eighth-placed Widnes almost end Warrington’s hopes of a third consecutive Grand Final appearance and Leeds crash out at home to Catalan.
The Wolves were forced to come from 19-6 down at half time to eventually defeat the Vikings, making their first ever appearance in the Super League play-offs, 22-19.
For Leeds, the most successful play-off team in Super League history, a blunder by winger Tom Briscoe in the dying seconds enabled Catalan to record their first ever win at Headingley, stealing it 24-20 at the death.
So the two games that had meaning, the two do-or-die games, well and truly delivered for the Sky TV audience - a stark contrast to the two games before.
Next season, following the re-structure, the play-offs will be limited to a straight shoot-out between the top four - two semi-finals and then the Grand Final.
We’re not quite at that stage even yet this season. This weekend, Huddersfield host Catalan while Warrington travel to Castleford. The two winners will then go in to the semi finals to face either Wigan or St Helens, who have first choice over who they want to play at Langtree Park next Thursday night.
The NRL play-offs are a week ahead of Super League, and they saw some unbelievable drama last weekend.
Defending champions Sydney Roosters led 30-0 after 32 minutes, but needed a late drop goal from James Maloney to beat North Queensland 31-30, after the Cowboys had mounted an incredible comeback.
That was followed by a similarly gripping game between Manly and Canterbury. The Bulldogs led 16-6 at half time, but it finished 17-all after Trent Hodkinson and Daly Cherry-Evans traded late drop goals. That took proceedings to extra time, where Hodkinson was successful in a golden point drop goal that meant Canterbury sneaked home 18-17.
The Bulldogs will play Penrith on Saturday, with the Roosters taking on rivals South Sydney Roosters; the winners of those matches will then meet in the Grand Final at Stadium Australia on October 5.