Super 8s preview part one - St Helens, Wigan Warriors, Castleford Tigers & Warrington Wolves
By Tom Mordey
Last Updated: 09/08/18 8:25pm
The Super 8s are here! Each team has seven games to book a place in the top four, and from there, a potential trip to Old Trafford.
St Helens are 10 points clear of Wigan and could wrap up the League Leaders' Shield by the second round of games if results go in their favour.
So who's top of the stats going into the Super 8s? Who could be key to their side's chances of success?
We take a look at the sides currently holding the top four spots first...
Tries - Ben Barba 23
What a revelation Barba's been in Super League. He has taken the competition by storm and his total of 23 tries is more than anyone in the whole of Super League.
That's also the most in a Saints season since Tommy Makinson managed 25 in 2014 - and there's plenty of time to beat that. Barba's scored some spectacular long-range efforts and is a threat with the ball-in-hand anywhere on the field.
Assists - Ben Barba 22
For tries, also read assists. Barba's racked up almost as many of those as he has four pointers. He's got nine more than any other St Helens player.
He hits the line to great effect and Barba is only second in terms of Super League's top assister, one behind Leeds Rhinos' Richie Myler.
Metre maker - Luke Thompson 3006m
It's been a big season for Luke Thompson. The front rower is St Helens' top metre maker with 3006m. And he's only the second player to hit the 3000m mark in the whole competition, behind Wakefield's Bill Tupou.
Thompson's average gain is over eight metres a drive from 370 carries. A real asset to St Helens' attack.
Tackles - James Roby 813
No surprise at all to see James Roby on top of the St Helens' tackle count. He's made 813 hits so far. In fact, it's actually a surprise to see him ranked only joint-third in the competition's standings.
Roby's been Saints' top tackler in three of the last four seasons and he's well ahead of the next best - Jon Wilkin - in 2018.
Tries - Liam Marshall 15
Another stellar scoring year for Liam Marshall. He's bagged 15 tries in his 18 Super League appearances in 2018. That includes two hat-tricks, one against Hull KR in April and one against Leeds in June.
Marshall's been rewarded with a new deal for his form and he'll look to break a run of four games without a try going into the Super 8s.
Assists - George Williams 17
Who else? George Williams makes this Wigan side tick, he's the creative force in the middle of the park. Sam Tomkins is running him close - he's only two behind with 15 - but Williams has been missing since Round 18 for the Warriors.
He's finished top of the assists charts in the last three seasons and Shaun Wane will hope to get him back fit and firing for the run-in.
Metre maker - Tom Davies 2913m
Whilst Marshall has shone with his scoring exploits on one flank, Tom Davies has impressed on the other. He's the club's top metre maker, with 2913m from his 334 carries.
Davies has 11 tries from his 19 games, but he's actually scored in 10 different matches, notching just the one double in Round 7 against Huddersfield. Another young talent on the wing to watch.
Tackles - Willie Isa 708
An ever-present in Wigan's side in Super League. Isa is such an important part of the Warriors' pack, bedding down mainly in the second row, though he can cover loose forward and even centre at a push.
He's the club's top tackler, putting in 708 hits so far, with Sam Powell the next best. More of the sise is needed in the Super 8s.
Tries - Jy Hitchcox 10 (Michael Shenton - 9)
Interestingly, Castleford's top scorer this season won't be at the club for the Super 8s. Jy Hitchcox scored 10 tries in eight games earlier in the campaign, but will spend the rest of the season at Bradford.
Michael Shenton is next on the list. He's got nine for the Tigers in 2018. Could the captain lead the Tigers to a return to Old Trafford?
Assists - Jake Trueman/Paul McShane 16
Luke Gale's injury put the cat amongst the Castleford pigeons this season as to the man pulling the strings for the Tigers, but Jake Trueman has impressed in his absence.
After putting Leeds to the sword in Round 15, he's started at half-back ever since, notching up 16 assists. Level with him is hooker Paul McShane - a player who's developed into one of the Tigers' star men and has missed just one Super League game this season.
Metre maker - Grant Millington 1821m
It's Grant Millington leading the way for the Tigers so far in 2018. He'd missed just one Super League game this season, before suffering an injury against Huddersfield in Round 22.
Millington's got 1821 metres from his 282 carries. That's at an average gain of 6.46m a drive. Millington is also a strong offloader, throwing 23 out of the tackle, making him a key member of the pack.
Tackles - Paul McShane 880
Another entry for Paul McShane, this time in the tackling category, and he's head and shoulders above any other player in terms of work in defence - over 250 more than Castleford's next best.
The hooker is only two behind the league's top tackler, Daryl Clark. With seven tries and those 16 assists added to his defensive work rate, you can see why McShane is so critical to Castleford's side.
Tries - Josh Charnley 12
It's testament to Josh Charnley's impact at Warrington that he's the club's top try scorer in Super League this season. He arrived in March, making his league debut in Round 8 against Widnes and scoring twice.
Charnley has missed just one game since, playing 15 times and scoring 12 tries, one more than fellow winger Tom Lineham. Will he keep that form up?
Assists - Stefan Ratchford 16
It's been a fine season for Stefan Ratchford. He secured his spot in the England side after settling into Steve Price's side in the full-back role. Ratchford is a massive threat going forward, he's got 16 try assists, five more than half back Kevin Brown.
Having started 22 of the 23 Super League games, it seems a permanent home has done Ratchford a world of good.
Metre maker - Stefan Ratchford 2690m
Another feather in the cap of the Warrington full-back. He's been racking up the metres on the kick returns with 2690m from his 329 carries. That's at an impressive 8.18m per drive.
A real weapon in attack, Ratchford's been one of the Warrington players of the season. Will he steer them towards Old Trafford?
Tackles - Daryl Clark 882
Daryl Clark's a tackling machine. He's made the most hits in the whole of the competition with 882 and will have his eyes on the end of season award.
Clark was the Wolves' top tackler in the last campaign, but he's already made 240 more tackles than in 2017. Clark isn't just strong in defence, he's a real threat out of the dummy half position and is an important cog in the Warrington machine.