This Saturday will see the Super League once again welcome the Magic Weekend to its schedule, with seven top-flight encounters set to dazzle the Etihad Stadium.
Every team in the division will feature as part of a two-day extravaganza in Manchester, where Leeds Rhinos will hope to maintain their momentum as league leaders, while the rest of Super League's bastions play catch-up.
To ensure not a moment is missed in one of rugby league's finest annual traditions, read on for all the essential viewing details for this weekend's schedule, along with some analysis of the most promising matchups.
|Team||VS.||Team||Date||Match Information||Live Stream||TV Info|
|London Broncos||vs.||Catalans Dragons||May 17||12.30 p.m. BST/7.30 a.m. ET||Sky Go app (subscription required)||Sky Sports 3|
|Widnes Vikings||vs.||Salford Red Devils||May 17||2.45 p.m. BST/9.45 a.m. ET||Sky Go app (subscription required)||Sky Sports 3|
|Hull KR||vs.||Hull FC||May 17||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Sky Go app (subscription required)||Sky Sports 3|
|Wigan Warriors||vs.||Leeds Rhinos||May 17||7.15 p.m. BST/2.15 p.m. ET||Sky Go app (subscription required)||Sky Sports 3|
|Wakefield Trinity Wildcats||vs.||Castleford Tigers||May 18||12.30 p.m. BST/7.30 a.m. ET||Sky Go app (subscription required)||Sky Sports 1|
|Huddersfield Giants||vs.||Bradford Bulls||May 18||2.45 p.m. BST/9.45 a.m. ET||Sky Go app (subscription required)||Sky Sports 1|
|Warrington Wolves||vs.||St. Helens||May 18||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Sky Go app (subscription required)||Sky Sports 1|
Wigan Warriors vs. Leeds Rhinos
Coming to the Etihad Stadium, Shaun Wane's defending champion Wigan Warriors have no chance of surmounting the outfit currently in prime position to strip them of their title, Leeds Rhinos.
However, reducing the five-point gap that the league-leading Rhinos currently boast over the Warriors is of vital significance if the Cherry and Whites are to have their best chances of claiming the most advantageous play-off place possible.
Those hopes have been significantly reduced by a number of injuries in Wane's squad, though, with Total Rugby League's Joe Whitley quoting the Wigan coach as he considers giving youngster Sam Powell a start at nine, with hooker Michael McIlorum potentially switching to loose forward:
Sam’s a body and a tough player, I may put him in and shift Micky Mac to loose forward, that’s one option. We’re absolutely down to the bare bones. But I’m not stressed – I want us to win and genuinely think we’ll be competitive.
Leeds will not be sympathetic in their approach, and a Kevin Sinfield-led outfit of terrific quality should be able to keep their current trajectory afloat on Saturday.
Hull Kingston Rovers vs. Hull FC
It's a big weekend in sport for Hull, who see both of their rugby league namesakes clash in Magic Weekend's derby showdown, while Wembley plays host to the Premier League's City, who face Arsenal in the FA Cup final.
It was Hull KR who triumphed in the tense meeting between these two sides last month, where Craig Hall took on the guise of hero, striking a last-minute drop goal to end the scoring at 21-20 in his team's favour.
Sat level on 10 points apiece in eighth and ninth, respectively, Hull FC and Hull KR are separated by the finest of margins, and after suffering two losses in a row, the Black and Whites' Gareth Ellis is quoted, by Rugby League World, admitting morale is low for the former right now:
Gareth Ellis admits heads have started to drop at Hull FC, but Magic Weekend could change all that: http://t.co/M6aVBvKmAy— Rugby League World (@rlworld) May 15, 2014
It's nigh impossible to pick these two sides apart right now, but whoever can take their opportunities more efficiently on Saturday takes a massive step in distancing themselves from their inner-city rivals.
Warrington Wolves vs. St Helens
The seventh and final fixture of Magic Weekend gives St Helens their chance to claw back Leeds Rhinos' existing lead—or even leapfrog them, depending on how the Warriors fare this Saturday.
Standing in the way of that hope are last year's grand finalists, the Warrington Wolves, who, despite failing to recapture the same majestic form of last season, can still be a threat to second-place St Helens.
Wolves are currently seventh, eight points behind their derby opponents, but what better time to reignite the flame than with a derby meeting against one's closest elite enemies?