Title: Toronto Wolfpack ready to host Million Pound Game with Super League promotion in the balance
Date: September 30, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Million Pound Game, a one-game playoff with promotion to Super League on the line that the Toronto Wolfpack will be hosting.
It was a weekend of ups and downs for Toronto Wolfpack, one that ended with a sobering yet exciting outcome. The Wolfpack will host Rugby League’s “Million Pound Game” next Sunday at 2 p.m. at Lamport Stadium, a win-and-you’re-in opportunity to earn promotion to Super League. Earlier this year – or even at the outset of this transatlantic Rugby League experiment before the 2017 season – the chance to win a single game at home for promotion to the top division after just two years of existence would have been something close to a best-case scenario. And it’s still a great spot to be in. For a moment, though, it looked like the Wolfpack may have punched their ticket in a more direct way.
Faced with a chance to earn promotion to Super League by finishing third in The Qualifiers, the Wolfpack entered Leeds’ Headingley Stadium feeling like masters of their own destinies. Pull off the upset against one of the world’s most accomplished Rugby League program, and Toronto would finish at 5-2 with a pair of wins against Super League opponents, sitting strong in the table as the rest of the tournament’s games played out.
On Friday, the Wolfpack did exactly that. After 75 minutes of physical, back-and-forth play, Gareth O’Brien broke a 16-16 tie with a drop-goal to take a one-point lead. It was reminiscent of how the Wolfpack had established this foothold on a promotion slot, back when they were 2-2 and O’Brien clinched a tight home victory over Toulouse in the exact same fashion. O’Brien has a history with this kind of moment, having scored a game-winning drop-goal to win the Million Pound Game as a member of Salford two years ago, and all eyes will be on the full-back if Sunday’s single-game playoff is tied late.