Kiwi Junior Sa’u and Australian Cory Paterson enjoyed try-scoring returns as Salford Red Devils secured their Super League status with a bruising 24-10 win at Widnes Vikings.
The two sides headed into their fourth meeting of the season level on eight points, knowing that victory for either would cement their status for next season.
With the Salford pack on top from the outset, they found themselves 18-4 up at the break thanks to tries from Josh Griffin, Scott Taylor and Paterson.
New Zealander Sa’u added a fourth try shortly after the break while Lloyd White registered Widnes’ second try of the afternoon following former NZ Warriors star Patrick Ah Van’s first-half effort.
But there would be no late fightback from the hosts with Salford’s Josh Griffin and Widnes’ Kevin Brown both red carded for fighting late on.
The result sees Salford leapfrog their opponents into second place in the Qualifiers table while Widnes are two points clear of Wakefield Wildcats and Bradford Bulls with all three still in with a chance of automatically securing their Super League status with one game remaining.
The remaining two teams will instead contest the Million Pound Game, which is a play-off between fourth and fifth for the last top-flight spot for 2016.
Victories for Wakefield and Bradford over the weekend did at least guarantee a play-off chance and in the process condemn Halifax, Leigh and Sheffield to life in the second tier next season.
Michael Sio helped himself to two tries for Wakefield on Saturday to help his side see off Halifax 30-12.
The Samoan international crossed twice in the first half alongside Michael Simon to put the home side 18-6 ahead at the break – Jack Eccleston responding for Halifax.
But while Scott Murrell would also cross for the seventh-placed visitors, Wakefield extended their advantage thanks to further tries from Anthony Mullally and Max Jowitt.
Earlier in the day, Bradford had put the pressure on Halifax to win against Wakefield with a 32-16 win at Leigh.
Danny Williams and Matty Blythe were both in good touch, crossing twice each to ensure the visitors stayed fifth in the Qualifiers.
Jake Mullaney opening the try-scoring first, while Williams extended the lead to ten points with his first try.
Leigh did not go down without a fight though and levelled through Adam Higson and Gregg McNally before Williams and Blyth restored the Bulls’ lead.
And while the home side’s Bob Beswick also touched down, Blythe scored again to seal the two points for Bradford.
Friday also saw bottom side Sheffield Eagles entertain table toppers Hull KR but there would be no upset as the visitors ran out 38-28.
The Eagles went ahead first though when Eddie Battye crossed the whitewash but a Ken Sio brace and Maurice Blair put Rovers, already guaranteed a top-flight spot next year, in the driving seat at the break.
Australian Sio completed his hat-trick in the second half – a scoring feat matched by Eagles’ Ryan Millar – but it was too little too late for the hosts, whose faint hopes of Super League promotion were consequently snuffed out by results elsewhere on Saturday.