Super League: Magic Weekend returns with end-of-season run-in hotting up

After Liverpool's Anfield hosted the event in 2018, the Magic Weekend is back at Newcastle's St. James' Park. 2020's event was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Betfred Super League Magic Weekend Location: St. James' Park in Newcastle Date: Saturday 4, & Sunday 5, September Coverage: Live scores and reports on BBC Sport website.

As the 2021 season draws to a close, Super League's Magic Weekend will return from Saturday.

It also returns to Newcastle's Saint James' Park one year after it was originally scheduled, but was delayed due to the coronavirus epidemic.

As the relentless season comes to an end, there is still plenty of time for everyone.

BBC Sport examines what you can expect for a magical return of the north east, the first since 2018.

Head to head: Top two teams go head-to-head

The Super League table is led by Catalans Dragons heading into the 2021 Magic Weekend. Can they beat St Helens to move on towards their first ever League Leaders Shield?

The second fixture of this weekend sees league leaders Catalans Dragons taking on St Helens, which is second in the standings. This game could have major implications for the end-of season make-up.

Perpignan leads the table in win percentage. They have played two more games then Saints. However, victory on Saturday could make a difference in who wins the 2021 League Leaders Shield.

Kristian Woolf, Saints boss, said that they are looking forward to the event and that Catalans will also be excited.

"I thought that the semi-final against Warrington was an excellent game, and I expect the same this weekend.

"Both teams have a chance to win the League Leaders Shield, which is important. Both teams also know that they will likely come across at some point in the finals. That makes it exciting."

Compete for the play-off spots

Richard Agar, Leeds Rhinos' boss, has managed 11 wins out of 21 Super League games this season. They take on Hull FC on Saturday, with both sides in contention for a late push for a playoff spot.

Super League's top players have more to lose than just the ones at the top. It is also up for grabs to win play-off places.

Castleford and Leeds are currently on the fringe of the top six as they attempt to secure a post-season place. Victories against Salford FC and Hull FC will help them get there.

Salford is under no pressure. They have nothing to lose. "The way they play with the ball, there is a lot movement there," Castleford boss Daryl Powell said to BBC Radio Leeds.

"When it really matters for something, you need to make sure that your head is where it should be." We were disappointed last week with our efforts. This is a series of close, difficult games that takes place in a very short time. We need to take a break.

Richard Agar, Leeds Rhinos' head coach, said: "[Hull FC manager] Brett Hodgson is my friend and I share the same sentiments. Both of us must win.

"It doesn't end if one side loses, but considering our league positions and how close it is the end of this season and the win percentage, it's almost worth more than two points given the context of the entire season."

Last Magic Weekend for Brown & Lam

Kevin Brown didn't make it to 2019's Magic Weekend, Anfield. However, he has been a part of every other event since 2007's debut season.

Kevin Brown, one of the most prominent names in Super League, will be retiring after his final Magic Weekend.

Brown, an ex-england international player, will be retiring at the end the season. This marks the end to a 20 year professional career.

Since 2007, the 36-year old has participated in every Magic Weekend except one.

After announcing his retirement at the end, Adrian Lam will now take charge of Wigan.

Lam spoke out about his decision to BBC Radio Manchester, saying: "I just wanted us to get through that June, July and August period when players are negotiating signings. I wanted to ensure the priority was them getting it sorted, and then concentrate on me.

"I have reached that point and I am very happy with it. I've had wonderful conversations and relationships with [chairman] Ian Lenagan, and Kris Radlinski, [executive director] Kris Radlinski. They've been great supporters of my work and I've loved every second of it."