Reigning Super League champions St Helens will find themselves in unfamiliar territory when they host Warrington Wolves in the Eliminator round of the playoffs on Saturday.
Paul Wellens' side have been used to topping the standings in recent years, but rather than enjoy a week of rest, they will welcome Warrington to the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Saints finished third in the table, but they were unlucky not to win the League Leaders' Shield, having finished level on points with first-placed Wigan and second-placed Catalans - who St Helens will face should they progress.
Opponents Warrington managed to hold on to their spot in the top six after a shaky summer, and they should be up against it on their travels.
|What||St Helens v Warrington Wolves|
|Where||Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens|
|When||12:45, Saturday 30th September 2023|
|How to watch||Channel 4 & Sky Sports Arena|
|Odds||St Helens 2/9, Tie 25/1, Warrington 10/3|
Even though St Helens will have to play in every round of the playoffs, they will still class this season as a success.
Wellens' side went Down Under at the start of the campaign and beat the Penrith Panthers to win the World Club Challenge. That had a knock-on effect on their league form, though, but they ended the regular season with a spring in their step to climb the Super League table.
St Helens had a blip during the summer, losing 34-6 to Hull FC and 14-12 to Catalans, before then falling short in the Challenge Cup semi-final against Leigh Leopards.
Thankfully for Wellens, his team learned their lessons and won their final nine matches of the regular campaign.
Saints were desperately unlucky not to get their hands on the League Leaders' Trophy, so they will be highly confident of securing a convincing win.
Wellens' group have won six games in a row against Warrington, including an 18-6 victory earlier this month and Saturday's clash will also be an emotional affair.
Hooker James Roby will play his final home game before he retires and Saints will be desperate to give him a triumphant send-off.
George Delaney will play no part in Saturday's battle, though, after picking up a one-match ban, he is replaced in the squad by Dan Norman.
Saints are available on the -11.5 handicap at 4/5, and they have covered that line in two of their last three wins over Warrington.
Warrington's fans have been put through it this season, but it all started so well for the Wolves fanbase.
Under Daryl Powell, the Wire won their first eight matches to move into a convincing lead at the top of the Super League, but they soon fell away after a disastrous summer.
A run of eight straight defeats cost Powell his job and it is now interim coach Gary Chambers who is trying to mastermind their success.
Warrington won three of their final five matches to secure a play-off spot, but all the signs suggest they will struggle.
Being in form has often worked in teams' favour in the Super League play-offs, with Leeds Rhinos famously winning the Grand Final from fifth.
Chambers has had to make a change to his squad, with the game coming too soon for Josh Thewlis. He has failed to recover from a dead leg in time and he will be a big miss after being named on the shortlist for the Super League Young Player of the Year award.
Thewlis drops out alongside Adam Holroyd, with Chambers recalling Peter Mata’utia and Greg Minikin.
St Helens have been so dominant in recent weeks that they look like they could put on a big performance in their first play-off match.
If Warrington are to make a game of it, then the over 36.5 points in the match should come in at 1/1, but it would come as a huge shock to see them get close to this rampant Saints side.
This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.