Super League Champions Wigan Warriors and 2019's surprise package Salford Red Devils are in the last chance saloon as the Grand Final looms on the horizon. Phil Spink takes a look at Friday's eliminator...
"The Warriors have won all four of their matches against Salford this year"
Wigan should get the job done
Wigan Warriors v Salford Red Devils
Friday October 4, 19:45 BST
Live on Sky Sports Arena
It's do-or-die for the last two remaining clubs in the hunt for a place in next Saturday's Super League Grand Final and reigning Champions Wigan Warriors can book a return to Old Trafford.
Adrian Lam's men have featured in five of the last six finals and get a second bite of the cherry in Friday's eliminator having been blown away 40-10 last week by a fresh and fantastic St Helens who are now 100/30-on with the Sportsbook to lift the trophy in Manchester.
The mighty Saints are the only team to have beaten Wigan since the start of June, having also seen them off 32-10 in Round 22, and were also the last side to win at the DW Stadium way back on Good Friday, with Wigan now seeking an eleventh straight victory at home. The Warriors have won all four of their matches against Salford this year, including a hard-fought 18-12 success in the first play-off a fortnight ago.
The rise of the Salford Red Devils has been the story of the Super League season and they are eighty minutes away from a first Grand Final appearance having been 100/1 for top honours at the start of the year. They bounced back from that defeat, their first in nine games, at the DW with a stunning 22-0 win over Castleford last week and must now defy the odds one more time if they to make the short trip to the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday-week. Prop Josh Johnson returns for Ian Watson's side, who are going for just their second win on Wigan soil since 1997.
Centre Dan Sarginson, who will be playing for Salford in 2020, returns for the hosts in what has been described as "their strongest team of the year" by Adrian Lam. Wigan's big-game experience will be vital in this shoot-out and they can be expected to brush themselves off from last week's flop and end Salford's fantastic season. Back them to cover the handicap of six.
We'll also throw a dart at Warriors number 7 Thomas Leuluai to help his side on the way with a try at 11/4. The veteran halfback will be playing in his 450th game and has scored twice against Salford this season, while he was also on the mark in Wigan's play-off semi-final win over Castleford this time last year.