Castleford Tigers kept their Grand Final hopes alive and ended Warrington Wolves' season in the process with a 14-12 triumph at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Thursday.

The opening game of the Super League play-offs did not lack for drama, with the Wolves' hopes of success in the elimination final hampered by a first-half injury to Blake Austin.

Austin – one of five players on the shortlist for the 2019 Steve Prescott Man of Steel award – did not feature after the break due to a right knee problem, the half-back forced to watch on as this year's Challenge Cup winners came up short.

Castleford never trailed in a contest high on effort but lacking in quality, Adam Milner getting on the end of a grubber kick to score a try that Peter Mata'utia converted.

Warrington drew level quickly after the break when Jake Mamo – on as Austin's replacement – forced his way over out wide, Stefan Ratchford adding the extras having failed to land a first-half penalty.

However, the Tigers roared back with a try at the other end, Jordan Rankin the man to score it on his team's right flank. Mata'utia was on target with the kick and also slotted over a penalty, giving his team an eight-point advantage.

They needed the cushion, though, as Rankin missed Daryl Clark's kick to let in Chris Hill for a converted try that cut the gap to two.

But, like the Wolves' last-gasp bid to remain in contention for a trip to Old Trafford, Ratchford's ambitious long-range penalty attempt in the closing minutes came up short.

Wakefield Wildcats secured their Super League status for 2020 with a 19-10 win over London Broncos on Friday – a result that means the capital club are relegated to the second tier.

The final round of the regular season saw four teams in danger of the drop, with the Broncos knowing their inferior points difference meant only a win would do at fellow strugglers Wakefield.

However, the Wildcats maintained their top-flight status and sent London, who were promoted last year after winning the Million Pound Game against Toronto Wolfpack, back down to the Championship.

Ryan Hampshire crossed in either half while Reece Lyne also scored a try for Wakefield, who led 19-0 at one stage before holding off a late fightback from the Broncos. Alex Walker and Brock Lamb both went over in the closing minutes, but it was too little, too late for the visitors.

Hull Kingston Rovers – who finish the campaign on 20 points, the same as London - were indebted to Wakefield after they were beaten 17-16 away at Salford Red Devils.

Rovers were unable to give the retiring Danny McGuire a winning farewell, letting slip a 14-10 second-half advantage as they were downed in golden point extra time by a successful one-pointer from Krisnan Inu.

The dramatic victory for Salford means they finish in third place ahead of Warrington Wolves, 26-4 losers at a Leeds Rhinos side captained by Jamie Jones-Buchanan in his 421st - and final - appearance.

Huddersfield Giants were the other team in trouble but they took matters into their own hands at home to Catalans Dragons, Louis Senior scoring four tries in a 24-22 triumph.

As for the final play-off place, Hull FC knew they needed a win over minor premiers St Helens but were beaten 22-6 at home, a result that means Castleford Tigers – who faced a nervous wait following their defeat to Wigan Warriors 24 hours earlier – remain fifth in the table.

London Broncos are still in with a chance of survival in Super League after a late Jay Pitts try secured a thrilling victory over relegation rivals Hull KR on Friday.

The Broncos had led 12-0 at Craven Park but tries from William Dagger, Chris Atkin and Danny McGuire gave Rovers a 16-14 advantage heading into the closing minutes.

Yet Danny Ward's side conjured up a dramatic score to keep their hopes of avoiding the drop alive, captain Pitts forcing his way over.

Kieran Dixon landed the conversion to make it 20-16 and the Broncos held on in the closing minutes, meaning they join their opponents, Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Trinity on 20 points heading into the final round of fixtures in the regular season.

The Giants are in action first next Friday, hosting Catalans Dragons, while Hull KR travel to Salford Red Devils and London – who remain bottom due to a vastly inferior points difference – visit fellow strugglers Trinity on Sunday.

Wakefield missed the chance to secure their top-flight status for 2020 as they slipped to a 23-16 defeat at Warrington Wolves, while the Giants were thrashed 48-6 by minor premiers St Helens.

At the top of the table, Wigan Warriors remain in second after a Bevan French hat-trick inspired them to a 46-12 thrashing of Catalans Dragons.

Salford cemented their place in the top five ahead of the play-offs courtesy of a 20-12 win – their seventh in a row - at lowly Leeds Rhinos.

Warrington Wolves were unable to use their Challenge Cup success as a springboard to end a dismal Super League run, with Salford Red Devils handing them a 22-6 loss at the AJ Bell Stadium.

A short turnaround forced Steve Price to ring the changes from the team he selected for the 18-4 triumph over St Helens at Wembley on Saturday and they saw their winless league run extended to six games by the in-form Red Devils, who have now been victorious in their last six in a row.

A Krisnan Inu penalty provided the only points of a tense first half, but Salford ran riot after the restart.

Ken Sio touched down twice in quick succession as the Red Devils pulled away, and Jake Bibby capped a fine move down the left before the hour mark.

Sio intercepted a kick from Tom Lineham and outpaced Harvey Livett as he raced home from 80 metres, putting the result well beyond doubt.

Danny Walker pounced on a grubber kick to ensure the Wolves were not held to nil, with the two teams now level on 30 points with Wigan Warriors and Hull FC in the standings.

Warrington Wolves upset St Helens to win the Challenge Cup with an emotional 18-4 triumph at Wembley.

St Helens came into Saturday's showpiece as favourites given they are 16 points clear of any other team in Super League, but their wait for a first cup victory since 2008 goes on.

Warrington had lost their last five matches, including one to Saints, and were playing without star man Blake Austin, but ended their recent misery in the competition to claim the trophy for a ninth time.

Wolves, who last won in 2012, had lost in the final for two of the last three years, but building a 12-point first-half lead allowed them to end that run with a surprisingly convincing victory.

Joe Philbin powered through a gap in the St Helens defence to open the scoring and, after a Lachlan Coote mistake allowed Ben Murdoch-Masila to dot down, a second Stefan Ratchford conversion had Warrington in control after 33 minutes.

Saints - who had two first-half tries ruled out - broke through for the first time midway through the second half when Theo Fages sold the dummy and touched down, but Coote missed the kick to keep his side two scores behind.

Both teams were finding the hot conditions difficult and there was no further scoring until man-of-the-match Daryl Clark broke from dummy-half to clinch the win for Warrington with eight minutes left, with Declan Patton nailing the conversion.

Wigan Warriors moved level on points with Warrington Wolves thanks to a clinical 20-6 win over the second-placed Super League side on Friday.

The Warriors boosted their hopes of reaching the qualifying final, where they could face Warrington again, after scoring three tries in the space of 11 ruthless first-half minutes.

Wire were playing their final fixture before the Challenge Cup final against runaway Super League leaders St Helens but struggled to break Wigan down even in the spell after Oliver Gildart was sent to the sin bin.

Victory means rampant Wigan have now won nine of their 10 matches since the sides' previous meeting in late May.

Bevan French, making his home debut for the Warriors, got the first points of the game after 15 minutes, taking a pass from Zak Hardaker to score down the flank.

Hardaker kicked the extras and he soon had two more tries to convert, too.

Three minutes after French's score George Williams darted through a gap in the Wire defence to extend the hosts' lead and Hardaker himself got the third after pouncing on a bouncing ball and getting the benefit of a review.

The match was then scoreless until Hardaker increased his points total to 12 with a 40-metre penalty.

A first period of sustained Wolves pressure followed when Gildart went in high on Jake Mamo, but Wigan defended bravely.

There was a belated response after Gildart returned to the field, with Tom Lineham scoring and Declan Patton dispatching the kick, yet the home side were comfortable victors.

St Helens marked their Super League Leaders' Shield triumph with a convincing 30-12 victory at second-placed Warrington Wolves in a dress rehearsal for the Challenge Cup final.

The Saints' victory over Wakefield Trinity last time out meant the Wolves' defeat to Catalans Dragons – which was marred by controversy – ensured Justin Holbrook's side's place at the top heading into the play-offs.

The league leaders celebrated in style on Thursday, with a dominant second-half display taking the game away from the Wolves, who took an early lead when Jake Mamo bundled over.

Their lead was short-lived, impressive youngster Jack Welsby teeing up Kevin Naiqama, and though Josh Thewlis restored Warrington's advantage, Jonny Lomax's try ensured the Saints were in front heading into the break.

Stefan Ratchford's penalty had brought Wolves within touching distance, but the Saints clicked through the gears after the restart, with Joseph Paulo opening his account for the club following a superb run from Kyle Amor.

Victory was all but assured when Matty Costello touched down with 18 minutes remaining, though the try of the night came soon after, as Tommy Makinson dived over acrobatically in the corner, with the Saints now 14 points clear at the top.

Sam Tomkins and Michael McIlorum have been hit with suspensions following a brawl which marred Catalans Dragons' Super League win over Warrington Wolves last Saturday.

Fighting broke out on and off the pitch as tempers flared in Perpignan, where Catalans ran out 30-10 winners to ensure St Helens took the League Leaders' Shield.

A high tackle from McIlorum in the 80th minute sparked a series of altercations.

Tomkins and McIlorum and were shown red cards amid ugly scenes at Stade Gilbert Brutus and the Catalans duo have been banned for three and two games respectively.

The Rugby Football League (RFL) on Wednesday revealed Tomkins has been charged and found guilty of punching, landing a £500 fine and a £500 loss of deposit for grading challenge.

McIlorum was charged and found guilty of a reckless tackle and has also been hit in the pocket to the tune of £1,000.

Catalans trio Brayden Williame, Mickael Simon and Kenny Edwards were not suspended by the RFL.

 

Warrington Wolves have signed former Wigan Warriors and St Helens half-back Matty Smith on loan from Catalans Dragons for the remainder of the 2019 Super League season.

The Wolves, who were beaten by the Dragons in an ill-tempered clash on Saturday, have turned to the vastly experienced England international - a two-time Grand Final winner - to provide cover in the halves.

Star man Blake Austin suffered an ankle injury against Catalans, while Declan Patton has also been left out of the squad for Thursday's game with League Leaders' Shield winners St Helens, meaning Smith is set to make his Warrington debut against one of his previous clubs.

The Wolves also face Saints in the Challenge Cup final on August 24.

"Matt is an experienced player. He's a Lance Todd trophy winner so he knows all about big games and how to win Challenge Cups and Grand Finals," said Wire head coach Steve Price. 

"He knows how to steer a team around the park, and he'll add extra competition to our halves going into the business end of the season."

Meanwhile, James Child will referee in the Championship for the upcoming round of fixtures after he came under fire for his handling of Warrington's clash with the Dragons in Perpignan.

Child was criticised by the two coaches following the game, which ended amid ugly scenes - with a fight between the players on the pitch and sections of both clubs' support clashing in the crowd.

The official, who will act as linesman in the Super League clash between Wigan and Hull KR on Friday, will not referee in the top flight over the weekend, and will instead take charge of Widnes Vikings' game against Toulouse in the second tier.

Rugby League's controlling body, the RFL, handed out sanctions to multiple players following the scenes at the Catalans and Warrington game, with England international Sam Tomkins receiving a three-match penalty notice.

James Child will referee in the Championship for the upcoming round of fixtures after he came under fire for his handling of Catalans Dragons' Super League clash with Warrington Wolves on Saturday.

Child was criticised by the two coaches following the game, which ended amid ugly scenes - with a fight between the players on the pitch and sections of both clubs' support clashing in the crowd.

The official, who will act as linesman in the Super League clash between Wigan and Hull KR on Friday, will not referee in the top flight over the weekend, and will instead take charge of Widnes Vikings' game against Toulouse in the second tier.

Rugby League's controlling body, the RFL, handed out sanctions to multiple players following the scenes at the Catalans and Warrington game, with England international Sam Tomkins receiving a three-match penalty notice.

An investigation will be launched after ugly scenes marred the Super League clash between Catalans Dragons and Warrington Wolves on Saturday.

The Super League and Rugby Football League (RFL) announced the probe as they released a joint statement, saying they were "appalled" and planned to take "firm action".

Shocking events on and off the pitch saw fighting break out in the stands following a scuffle involving players that resulted in two red cards as the Dragons won the match 30-10. 

"We were appalled to see the pictures from Perpignan, and an investigation will be launched," read the Super League and RFL's statement on Saturday evening.

"The scenes are alien to Super League and have no place in our game. We will be taking firm action to make it clear this behaviour is totally unacceptable."

A high tackle from Michael McIlorum in the 80th minute sparked a series of altercations between the two teams.

There were then clashes among spectators at Stade Gilbert Brutus as players appealed for the fans to calm down. 

Once order was restored, referee James Child dismissed McIlorum and Sam Tomkins, while Jake Mamo received a yellow card for pushing his head into the latter's face.

In addition to the responses from the Super League and RFL, the Dragons and Warrington also released statements condemning the trouble and saying they would assist authorities.

The defeat for Warrington, who sit second in the table, secured the League Leaders' Shield for St Helens.

Fighting broke out in the stands following an on-pitch brawl that resulted in two red cards as Catalans Dragons won 30-10 against Warrington Wolves, who lost Blake Austin to injury in a defeat that gave St Helens the League Leaders' Shield.

A high tackle from Michael McIlorum in the 80th minute sparked a series of altercations between the two teams, which preceded scuffles among spectators at Stade Gilbert Brutus.

The players appealed for the fans to calm down and when order was restored referee James Child dismissed McIlorum and Sam Tomkins, while Jake Mamo received a yellow card for pushing his head into the latter's face.

Warrington played the entire second half without Man of Steel contender Austin, who had to be helped from the field after appearing to sustain an ankle injury.

After Tomkins slotted through an early penalty the two teams were both reduced to 12 men when Chris Hill's high tackle on Mickael Simon sparked a mass confrontation that ended in yellow cards for the Warrington co-captain and Michael McIlorum.

Jack Hughes joined Simon and Julian Bousquet in requiring treatment as the hard hitting continued after Tomkins split the posts from the tee again, before Austin was forced off after hurting himself in a tackle.

Mamo touched down in the right corner to get the Wolves on the board, but Fouad Yaha ensured Catalans went into half-time with a four-point lead.

Rashford converted a try from Hill to put Warrington in front for the first time, only for David Mead to beat Declan Patton and touch down for the hosts.

Matt Whitley and Tony Gigot crossed after Mamo was sent to the bin for the first time and tempers boiled over amid ugly scenes at the end that will likely lead to sanctions from the Rugby Football League.

Warrington Wolves veteran Ben Westwood has announced his plan to retire at the end of the season.

The 38-year-old, who won 27 England caps and featured in two World Cups, is in his 18th campaign with the Wolves, for whom he has made 441 appearances.

In that time, second-row forward Westwood enjoyed outings in five Challenge Cup finals and three Grand Finals, while also scoring 128 tries and kicking 83 goals.

"It's been a difficult decision but one that had to be made. I think the time is right," Westwood, who joined from Wakefield in 2002, told the club's official website.

"I've achieved what I wanted to in the game and 21 years is a long time to play a contact sport like we do.

"I've loved every single minute of it and have achieved some amazing things with some amazing people."

Super League's top two sides will contest the Challenge Cup final on August 24 after St Helens and Warrington Wolves each claimed last-four victories at the University of Bolton Stadium.

Saints, who have proved dominant in the regular league season for the second year in succession, overcame a superb effort from second-tier part-timers Halifax to win 26-2 on Saturday after the Wolves had edged out Hull FC 22-14.

If Halifax's fairy-tale run to the last four was impressive, their initial efforts against St Helens were even more outstanding as they ended the opening half-hour on level terms at 2-2.

Veteran hooker James Roby dummied over shortly before the interval and Justin Holbrook's men pulled clear in the second period as their opponents predictably tired, Dominique Peyroux, Jonny Lomax and Theo Fages all going over.

Halifax could nevertheless feel immensely proud of their efforts, despite failing in their improbable mission of inflicting a sixth successive semi-final defeat on their illustrious opponents.

Earlier, a Warrington side boosted by the return of fit-again full-back Stefan Ratchford just about held firm in the face of a Hull fightback.

Tries from Bryson Goodwin, Ben Currie and Toby King helped the Wire into a 16-8 lead, but Scott Taylor's converted score set up a nervy finish and Steve Price's side could only celebrate when Joe Philbin dived over in the 79th minute.

Warrington will now make a third final appearance in four years, having been beaten by Hull and Catalans Dragons respectively in the 2016 and 2018 deciders.

London Broncos gave their Super League survival hopes a welcome shot in the arm by inflicting another shock defeat on table-topping St Helens.

Runaway leaders Saints have only lost three of their 23 league games in 2019, but two of those have remarkably come against the rock-bottom Broncos.

On their last visit to Trailfinders Sports Club in June, St Helens lost by a solitary point. This time around, with a host of players rested by head coach Justin Holbrook, they were thumped 32-12 as London claimed a valuable win to move level on points with Hull KR and Leeds Rhinos.

Matthew Fleming scored two of the Broncos' five tries, while Matthew Gee, Alex Walker and Luke Yates also went over for the hosts, offsetting scores from Danny Richardson and Aaron Smith.

Leeds, meanwhile, suffered a major blow as Hull FC triumphed 26-24 to record their first win at Headingley since 2007.

The Rhinos came roaring back from 20-6 down to lead through Tom Briscoe's 66th-minute try, but Ratu Naulago responded swiftly for Hull and Marc Sneyd landed a touchline conversion to seal victory.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Salford Red Devils hammered Catalans Dragons 40-14 while Castleford Tigers climbed above the French side into fifth courtesy of a 27-18 win over second-placed Warrington Wolves.

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