Rugby League: Hunslet awarded home advantage for Widnes play-off

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The Independent Online
AFTER EXPLORING most other possibilities, the Rugby League has ruled that the Northern Ford Premiership play-off between Hunslet and Widnes this Sunday will be staged at the South Leeds Stadium.

Confusion over the by-laws saw the game - which leads to a Grand Final against Dewsbury and a possible Super League place - allocated to Widnes' Autoquest Stadium.

Hunslet objected that they, as the higher-placed team in the regular season, should have home advantage, which saw Widnes, in their turn, threaten legal action. Hunslet, meanwhile, rejected a compromise proposal to play on a neutral ground.

That left the Rugby League scouring its files for a definitive ruling, something which it now believes it has found. "Following an extensive examination of the RFL's by-laws, it has been determined that Hunslet will have home advantage," said the League's deputy chief executive, Dave Callaghan. Both clubs had accepted the ruling, he added. "But we very much regret that it has taken so long to confirm the status of the match."

One Premiership team never in the running for the play-offs, Rochdale Hornets, have appointed the Australian, Steve Linnane, as their new coach.

Linnane, who played as a half-back for South Sydney, St George and Newcastle, will arrive as soon as he secures a work permit. Rochdale dismissed Deryck Fox in mid-season, with Bob Eccles taking over as caretaker coach.

Wigan are predicting a sell-out for their Super League play-off against Castleford on Sunday - their first match at the JJB Stadium, which is to be their new home now that the bulldozers have rolled into Central Park.

The capacity of the new ground is limited to 16,000, because only three sides of it are ready for use, and 10,000 tickets have already been sold for the "sudden death" game. Castleford's, Nathan Sykes, who missed their match at Huddersfield, will be fit to face Wigan.

The match will be the last before Andy Goodway, who combines the roles of Wigan and Great Britain coach, names his squad for the Tri-Series against Australia and New Zealand this autumn. Goodway will reduce his list to 28 names, bringing it down to its eventual 24 only after the Grand Final on 9 October.

The Huddersfield prop forward, Jon Neill, will start next season with a one-match suspension after being found guilty of a reckless strike to the head in the defeat by Castleford that doomed his side - subject to any subsequent machinations - to relegation.