IN-FORM Castleford Tigers will look to make it 13 straight league victories when they kick-off this season’s Super 8s with a televised home game against St Helens next Thursday.
If Daryl Powell’s side win, depending on other results, they could seal the League Leaders’ Shield as early as the following week when they head to Salford Red Devils on Friday, August 11.
However, three victories would definitely secure the trophy for the first time in their history and, fittingly, their third game on Thursday, August 17 is against derby rivals Wakefield Trinity at Wheldon Road.
Castleford, who are 10 points clear of nearest rivals Leeds Rhinos, would love to claim the Shield in front of their home crowd where they remain unbeaten for more than a year.
All of their opening three Super 8s games are broadcast on Sky Sports, too, as is their home match with Leeds on Friday, September 8.
Tigers’ other fixtures see them head to Huddersfield Giants on Friday, September 1 and round off at Wigan Warriors on Sunday, September 17, strangely, the only Sunday game staged by any club throughout the entire Super 8s series.
Elsewhere, Leeds open their account with a home game against champions Wigan on Friday, August 4 before a West Yorkshire derby at Wakefield Trinity the following Thursday. However, the fixture all Rhinos fans will be keen to attend is on Friday, August 18 when St Helens arrive for what will be the final match at Headingley before its historic South Stand is demolished.
The club has organised a parade of legends players at half-time and, after the final hooter, many will be on the pitch to regale memories of their favourite moments involving the famous South Stand, which is regarded as one of the classic terraces in rugby league history.
Wakefield Trinity, meanwhile, know they have to start well in the Super 8s if they are to maintain their bid for a semi-final shot.
With that in mind, Chris Chester’s side will be targeting their opener at Huddersfield – who finished eighth – on Friday, August 4 as must-win if they are serious about kicking on.
Trinity finished fifth after losing at home to St Helens on Sunday, only missing out on fourth spot due to an inferior points difference to Salford.
That meant they earned only three home games, the others being that derby against Leeds before a Saturday-night game versus St Helens with a 7pm kick-off.
In the Qualifiers, Featherstone Rovers are scheduled to be on Sky Sports at least twice.
The Championship part-timers start their campaign at home to Super League opponents Leigh Centurions on Saturday, August 5 but they are also broadcast live when they take on Catalans Dragons in Perpignan on Saturday, September 9.
New coach John Duffy, though, will perhaps more relish their date with Warrington Wolves, one of his former clubs as a player, when last season’s beaten Grand Finalists arrive at Post Office Road on Sunday, September 17.