THE slogan for Super League and Championship rugby league in 2015, with its bold and adventurous revamp, is Every Minute Matters but the same could almost be said for this weekend’s fare, at least in the second tier.
Tomorrow will see the most fascinating, enthralling culmination to a season’s end possibly in recent memory with, aside from a single game, something hanging on every fixture.
Of course, top spot was established some time ago given the sustained class of Leigh Centurions, who will be overwhelming favourites to go on and win the Championship Grand Final, too.
Their game with already-relegated North Wales Crusaders is that aforementioned contest with little but pride and professionalism attached to it.
But elsewhere the battle and fight for points at both ends of the table is intoxicating. Indeed, it is so vigorous and crucial that Halifax coach Karl Harrison – with his side still mathematically capable of reaching second – lost his job on Thursday.
‘Fax are fourth heading into tomorrow’s visit from bottom-placed Barrow Raiders but successive defeats versus Featherstone and Doncaster has left them three points adrift of runners-up spot.
Securing second spot would have earned the West Yorkshire club £450,000 but it seems that cashpot will now go to either Fev or Donny.
If Andy Hay’s Featherstone win at Keighley that ends any hope of their rivals catching them but, equally, their opponents are desperate for success too.
Keighley sit eighth, just a point and two places above Whitehaven in the crucial last relegation spot.
Barrow, Swinton, Rochdale and North Wales are all already down but one spot remains – and Whitehaven, Batley, Keighley and Workington Town could all still be dragged into it depending on what occurs in this final 80 minutes of the regular campaign.
Batley, strangely, sit ninth which is the only place which isn’t a relegation or play-off spot.
They could still go either way – they only lead Whitehaven by a superior points difference – but face a treacherous visit to Doncaster who have to win in order to keep alive their bid for second.
Seventh-placed Workington host Dewsbury, in sixth, who seek a win themselves to hopefully oust Sheffield Eagles, who visit Rochdale, from fifth.
Back to the top end and, with their points difference advantage, a Featherstone draw at Lawkholme Lane is also almost certainly enough for them to snare second.
However, if they did lose, a win for Paul Cooke’s Doncaster at Batley would see them take that second place.
In Championship One, York City Knights have won the league but the jostling still continues for play-off spots, too.
Meanwhile, in Super League, nervous St Helens’ heavy loss at home to Warrington on Thursday night has truly opened up some promising finishes.
Just four points separated Saints in first and sixth-placed Leeds at the start of this round.
Who knows who will finish where after next weekend’s final instalment? The prospect of Castleford Tigers taking the League Leaders’ Shield, however, is very much still alive, quite fittingly given they have, indeed, played this year like every single minute does matter.