WHAT'S the betting the final places in Kingstone Press League One come down to points-difference.

That's how tight is has been this season between the top eight in the race for the top-five play-offs and, looking at the fixtures they all have left, that's how tight it could well remain.

Leaders Oldham have opened up a gap between themselves and the rest, while Newcastle, in eighth, have some ground to make up if they are to justify their recruitment outlay.

But only two points separate the other six clubs, and it means York City Knights' free-scoring form - they are the division's top scorers - could well prove decisive in the final shake-up given they are currently well ahead on points-difference. James Ford's men also have the second-best defensive record, just two points shy of North Wales Crusaders.

Trying to predict how it will all finish is far from easy, though, and, while you can bet each of the head coaches involved will have studied the fixtures and form and tried to figure out where points will be picked up and lost, Knights boss Ford insists he is focusing only on his own team and their next match.

"I will be as interested as everyone else on who ends where," he said. "I wouldn't want to predict results. I'm sure there will be one or two surprises.

"What we need to do is focus on our next game, knocking teams off and picking up points and see where we are at the end of the regular season."

That last sentence - specifically the words "regular season" not "season" - hinted at the fact Ford feels his side's campaign will indeed go into overtime.

He also hinted at having looked at the fixtures more than he's letting on when he added: "The top eight are very equal. Newcastle, for example, are capable of knocking off Oldham, and Barrow are capable of knocking off Keighley. There's a lot of rugby to be played."

Asked specifically if he had looked at his rivals' respective run-ins and where all the teams, including his own, could win or drop points, he said: "We need to focus on this weekend's game against Oxford.

"There's no point looking any further down the track as you could end up taking your eye off the ball and that's how teams can knock you over.

"We have to be fully focused on Oxford and in making sure our performance hits our standards.

"I've not looked too far ahead. I've looked at this weekend. We've got Oxford and we will be making sure we're prepared for it, and after this game we can look at the next one."

On paper, it would seem that, of the top eight, Keighley, Swinton and Newcastle have the easiest run-ins, with only two games left against play-off rivals.

Their other matches are against development clubs in the bottom half of the table, where maximum points can be very much expected given it is now some 57 weeks since a Southern team (generally a team in one of rugby league's expansion areas) beat a Northern team.

Newcastle, though, will probably need to win at least one if not both of their harder encounters, too, to have a good chance of catching up with the top five.

North Wales, in fourth, would seem to have the toughest run-in with five games left against play-off rivals, including two against York, and only one banker. The Knights will also be hoping the Welshmen are battered and bruised from games against Rochdale and Swinton before the two meet in York for their rearranged fixture on Thursday, August 20.

Barrow, in seventh, will need an ever better run-in to break into the top five as, after today's game against Coventry, their remaining four matches are against teams above them.

They could potentially be out of the running by the time they come to York on the last day of the regular season.

Does that all mean York, currently second above Keighley on points-difference, are set fair for a top-five finish?

Probably, but who knows? Without working out all the connotations, they will probably have to win their three "easier" games and at least one of their three against North Wales (twice) and Barrow.

To finish in the top two, they will need to match the points returns by North Wales, Swinton and, most pressingly, Keighley, so there's a good chance they will have to win at least five if not all six of their remaining fixtures.

Asked for his opinion, Ford simply said: "We're focusing on Oxford."

Here, have a look at the remaining fixtures and have a go yourself at working out who will end where.

The "likely points total" assumes the teams in the play-off reckoning will win all their games against the also-rans in the bottom half.

1 Oldham (played 17, points 28, points-difference 310)

August 9: Hemel Stags (A)

August 16: Newcastle Thunder (A)

August 23: Barrow Raiders (H)

September 6: Swinton Lions (H)

September 13: Oxford (A)

Likely final points total: 32-38

2= Knights (played 16, points 24, points-difference 378)

August 9: Oxford (H)

August 16: London Skolars (A)

August 20: North Wales Crusaders (H)

August 23: Hemel Stags (H)

September 6: North Wales Crusaders (A)

September 13: Barrow Raiders (A)

Likely final points total: 30-36

2= Keighley Cougars (played 16, points 24, points-difference 222)

August 9: South Wales Scorpions (A)

August 16: Barrow (H)

August 23: Rochdale (A)

September 6: Univ of Gloucestershire (A)

September 13: Hemel Stags (H)

TBC: London Skolars (A)

Likely final points total: 32-36

4= North Wales Crusaders (played 16, points 23, points-difference 267)

August 9: Rochdale Hornets (A)

August 16: Swinton Lions (H)

August 20: York City Knights (A)

August 28: London Skolars (A)

September 6: York City Knights (H)

September 13 Newcastle Thunder (A)

Likely final points total: 25-35

4= Swinton Lions (played 16, points 23, points-difference 231)

August 9: London Skolars (H)

August 16: North Wales Crusaders (A)

August 23: Univ of Gloucestershire (H)

August 31: Oxford (H)

September 6: Oldham (A)

September 13: South Wales Scorpions (H)

Likely final points total: 31-35

6= Rochdale (played 17, points 22, points-difference 249)

August 9: North Wales Crusaders (H)

August 15: Oxford (A)

August 23: Keighley Cougars (H)

September 5: Barrow Raiders (A)

September 13: London Skolars (H)

Likely final points total: 26-32

6= Barrow (played 17, points 22, points-difference 213)

August 8: Coventry Bears (H)

August 16: Keighley Cougars (A)

August 23: Oldham (A)

September 5: Rochdale Hornets (H)

September 13: York City Knights (A)

Likely final points total: 24-32

8 Newcastle Thunder (played 17, points 18, points-difference 17)

August 8: Univ of Gloucestershire (A)

August 16: Oldham (H)

August 23: Coventry Bears (H)

September 5: South Wales Scorpions (A)

September 13: North Wales Crusaders (H)

Likely final points total: 24-28