Monday, 9 October 2017

Super League Play Offs/Million Pound Game/Grand Final Reviews

The 2017 season came to and end with the final three sets of games, the Play off semis, Million Pound Game and Super League Grand Final.

The Play Offs began with an epic Thursday night game as Castleford Tigers claimed a 23-22 win over St Helens.

Cas made the perfect start as Zak Hardaker crossed inside the first minute with Luke Gale converting for a 6-0 lead that he extended to 8-0 with a penalty goal. Regan Grace cut the gap on 16 minutes for 8-4 with Saints leading into half-time after a Morgan Knowles try and Mark Percival conversion for 8-10.

The Tigers regained the lead with quick efforts from Gale and Adam Milner with the former converting both for 20-10. Saints staged a late fightback with Tommy Makinson, Percival and Luke Morgan crossing for 20-22. 

However, Saints were to be denied a clear win as Gale kicked a penalty in the final seconds for 22-22 and forcing 'Golden Point'. The hosts were to be the victors as Gale swept over a drop goal six minutes into the extra period to send the Tigers to Old Trafford for the first time. 

Leeds Rhinos ended hopes of a new winner of the SL title being guaranteed as they edged past Hull FC with an 18-16 win.

The Rhinos struck first as Stevie Ward crossed inside five minutes with Kallum Watkins converting before improving an effort from Anthony Mullally for 12-0.  Hull cut the gap to 12-6 with a try from the retiring Gareth Ellis which Marc Sneyd converted. 

Five minutes after the interval, FC cut the gap further with an effort from Mahe Fonua before going ahead nine minutes later with Sika Manu's try which Sneyd converted for 12-18. Leeds secured the win and a place at Old Trafford with a try from Liam Sutcliffe with Watkins converting for 18-16.

The battle to secure Super League survival saw Catalans Dragons retain their Super League spot with a 26-10 win over Leigh Centurions in the Million Pound Game.

Leigh struck first with Matty Dawson crossing inside eight minutes with Ben Renyolds converting for 6-0. The Dragons got off the mark five minutes before half-time with an Iain Thornley try for 6-4.The Centurions moved into a 10-4 advantage as James Clare went over but the Dragons soon came back with a nine minute brace from Lewis Tierney, Walsh converting twice for 10-18.

Walsh added two penalty goals before Fouad Yaha rounded off the win four minutes from the end to secure survival for the Dragons and relegate the Centurions to the Championship.

The season final from Old Trafford saw Leeds Rhinos claim an eighth title with a convincing 24-6 win over League Leaders Shield winner Castleford Tigers.  

A great start for the Rhinos saw Tom Briscoe open the scoring on 11 minutes with Kallum Watkins converting for 0-6. A closely fought first half saw just one further score as Danny McGuire kicked a last-gasp drop goal for 0-7 lead.

Two scores in eight minutes saw McGuire cross ahead of a second score from Briscoe with Watkins adding a conversion for 0-17. The win was safe for the Rhinos as McGuire crossed for his second try with Watkins converting for 0-23.

McGuire kicking a second drop goal with just three minutes to go for 0-24 left Castleford with little time to avoid becoming the first side nilled in the showpiece final. The unwanted record was avoided in the final seconds as Alex Foster crossed and Luke Gale converted for 6-24.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The Qualifiers Round Seven Review

The Qualifiers came to an end in round seven with the final place in Super League still undecided as was the team who would face Leigh Centurions in the Million Pound Game.

Leigh Centurions prepared for the Million Pound Game with a comfortable 41-4 win at London Broncos. The Centurions struck first through Matty Fleming inside 13 minutes with Ben Renyolds converting for 0-6 before improving a Harrison Hansen effort for 0-12 in a close first half.

Sam Hopkins extended the lead two minutes after the restart with Renyolds kicking for 0-18 and the visitors were in control at the hour after James Clare's try made it 0-22. London got on the board with a Matty Gee try for 4-22. 

Leigh wrapped up the win with a flurry of late scores as Renyolds scored a self-converted try before improving efforts from Antoni Maria and Josh Drinkwater for 4-40. Drinkwater rounded off the rout with a drop goal in the final minute. 

Warrington Wolves completed a perfect Qualifiers campaign with seven wins after a 46-24 victory over Hull Kingston Rovers. 

The Robins struck first with Will Oakes crossing inside five minutes with Jamie Ellis kicking them into a 0-6 lead. Ben Pomeroy cut the gap to 4-6 with a try on 19 minutes but a three minute brace from Ryan Shaw saw Ellis convert both for a 4-18 advantage. Stefan Ratchford cut the gap with Harvey Livett converting for 10-18 before he improved a late effort from Brad Dwyer for 16-18 into the interval.

The Wolves completed the comeback nine minutes after the interval through Andre Savelio with a second score from Pomeroy four minutes later, Livett converting once for 26-18. KR cut the gap to 26-24 as Ellis converted a second score from Oakes. Warrington secured the victory with a second Savelio try ahead of effort from Peta Hiku, Ben Currie and Livett with Livett and Gidley adding conversions.  

The battle to avoid the Million Pound Game saw Widnes Vikings secure a 12-10 win over Catalans Dragons to retain their Super League status and leave the Dragons to battle with Leigh for the final Super League spot. 

Catalans opened the scoring inside seven minutes as Luke Walsh kicked a penalty goal for 2-0 before Tom Gilmore drew the Vikings level with a 23rd minute penalty goal. Gilmore gave the Vikings a 2-4 lead five minutes later with another penalty but Walsh replied for a 4-4 score into half-time.

The first try of the game came on 54 minutes as Corey Thompson crossed for 4-8 ahead of a Stefan Marsh try for 4-12. Catalans set up a frantic finish with a Julian Bousquet try which Walsh converted for 10-12. Catalans had the chance to level late on with a penalty which would have secured home advantage in the MPG but chose to run the play and in failing to score fell to a defeat that left them needing to win the MPG to retain Super League status.  

The final game of the round saw a first ever Qualifiers win for Featherstone Rovers as they claimed a 26-20 win over Halifax.

Fev struck first with a John Davies try which Ian Hardman converted for 0-6 before he kicked a 23rd minute penalty for a 0-8 advantage. Fax got off the mark three minutes before the interval as Ben Kaye crossed and Steve Tyrer converted for 6-8. 

Fev reached double figures with Luke Briscoe crossing three minutes after the restart, Hardman converting for 6-14. Mitch Calahane replied within two minutes with a try which Tyrer converted for 12-14. Two scores in eight minutes from Frankie Mariano and Misi Taulapapa saw Hardman convert for a 12-26 advantage. Halifax came close to a superb comeback with Rob Worrincy and Ben Heaton going over but missed conversions left the gap at six points as the game came to an end.

Super 8s Round Seven Review

The final round of the Super League Super 8s saw the top four completed ahead of the semi finals.

The round opened with St Helens all but securing a top four spot with a 30-4 win at Salford Red Devils. 

Salford struck first with a Niall Evalds try inside four minutes before Mark Percival crossed to level at 4-4. Alex Walmsley put Saints ahead with Percival converting ahead of kicking a penalty after the hosts had Ryan Lannon dismissed, 4-12 at the interval.

Saints were in control just after the hour with Zeb Taia's which Percival converted for 4-18 ahead of a second score from Walmsley and late try from Ben Barba with Percival converting both.


Hull FC wrapped up a top four finish with a 48-16 win over a much changed Castleford Tigers.

FC went ahead inside nine minutes with an Albert Kelly try which Marc Sneyd converted for 0-6 before Jake Connor crossed for 0-10. Danny Houghton (Sneyd conv) extended the lead to 0-16 before the Tigers got off the mark with a debut try from Tuoyo Egodo with Paul McShane converting for 6-16. FC went into the interval in control after a Jamie Shaul try and second score from Connor with Sneyd converting both for 6-28.

Two tries in four minutes from Egodo saw him complete his hat-trick with a single conversion from McShane closing the gap to 16-28. FC resumed control though with Connor completing his hat-trick ahead of a Carlos Tuimavave score with Sneyd converting both and kicking a penalty in-between for 16-42. Shaul rounded off the scoring with his second try on 70 minutes with Sneyd kicking his eighth success of the game. 

Leeds Rhinos prepared for the semi-finals with a 36-12 derby win at Huddersfield Giants. 

A rapid start from the Rhinos saw a self-converted try from Kallum Watkins inside three minutes before Danny McGuire crossed for 0-10. Jimmy Keinhorst extended the lead with Watkins converting for a 0-16 lead that as quickly cut by a Michael Lawrence try which Danny Brough converted for 6-16. 

Leeds took full control with two tries in four minutes ahead of the hour mark, McGuire's second and an Anthony Mullally try with Watkins converting both ahead of adding a penalty for 6-30. Hudds reached double figures as Ryan Hinchciffe crossed with Brough kicking for 2-30. The Rhinos had the last say as Rob Burrow crossed ten minutes from the end with Watkins converting. 

The round ended with Wigan Warriors needing a huge win at Wakefield Trinity to reach the top four, Trinity eased to a 32-0 win to claim fifth spot.

Ben Jones-Bishop got Trinity going with a 16th minute try which Liam Finn converted for a 6-0 lead that became 12-0 when Jacob Miller went over with Finn converting. 

Wigan fell further behind to a Finn penalty before he improved Sam Williams' 60th minute try for 20-0. A miserable afternoon for the Warriors was completed by scores from Scott Grix and Keegan Hirst with Finn kicking both conversions to hand Wigan a first nilling in 2017.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Super 8s- The Qualifiers Round Six Review

The penultimate round of The Qualifiers took place last weekend as the push to retain Super League status and avoid the Million Pound Game continued.

Leigh Centurions ensured they would play in the Million Pound Game with a comfortable 40-6 win over Halifax. Leigh struck first inside four minutes as James Clare crossed for 4-0 ahead of a self-converted effort from Ben Renyolds for 10-0. 

Mitch Brown crossed twice in seven minutes before the interval with Renyolds converting the latter, this after Halifax cut the gap a minute earlier with a Mitch Calahane try which Steve Tyrer converted.

A second try for Clare within four minutes of the restart was followed by Harrison Hansen extending the lead to 30-6. Leigh wrapped up the win with a hat-trick try for Brown on the hour and score from Gregg McNally with Josh Drinkwater converting both. 

Catalans Dragons continued their battle to avoid the Million Pound Game with a narrow 20-19 win over Hull Kingston Rovers.

The Dragons struck first with a 10th minute try from Richie Myler with Luke Walsh converting for 0-6. Walsh converted a penalty on 32 minutes for a 0-8 lead into half time. Hull KR got off the mark nine minutes after the interval as Will Oakes crossed with Zach Dockar-Clay converting for 6-8 before improving Ben Cockayne's score for a 12-8 advantage.

Rovers extended their lead five minutes later with a George Lawler try which Chris Atkin converted before kicking a drop goal on 66 minutes for 19-8. However, Catalans staged a late fightback with Iain Thornley crossing and Walsh converting for 19-14 before three minutes from the end, Brayden Wiliame went over with Walsh converting to seal the win. 

Widnes Vikings furthered their push to secure Super League survival with a 38-16 win over London Broncos. The Broncos opened the scoring with ten minutes gone through Mark Ioane, Jarrod Sammut converting for 0-6. Widnes turned the tide with a score from Matt Whitley and self-converted effort from Lloyd White for 10-6. The Vikings led 22-6 into the interval after White converted tries from Danny Craven and Charly Runciman.

Craven crossed for a second try within two minutes of the restart for a 26-6 lead which was cut by a self-converted try from Sammut for 26-12. Joe Mellor crossed on the hour mark for the Vikings with Tom Gilmore kicking for 32-12. London cut the gap again just six minutes later with a Kieron Dixon try but the Vikings would have the last say on the scoreline with Mellor scoring a second late on and Gilmore converting.

Warrington Wolves maintained their 100% record with a 68-0 humbling of Featherstone Rovers. A rapid start from the Wolves saw Peta Hiku, Stefan Ratchford and Harvey Livett cross inside ten minutes with Livett converting twice for 16-0. Warrington were in firm control by half time as Jack Hughes crossed either side of Ben Pomeroy and Andre Savelio going over the line with Livett converting three times for 38-0.

Hiku and Livett claimed their second tries of the game within 12 minutes of the restart with Livett converting both fora huge 50-0 lead that was further increased by a brace from Jack Johnson either side of a hat-trick try for Hiku with Livett converting the lot to end with a 28 point personal haul.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Super 8s Round Six Review

The Road to Old Trafford continued with the penultimate round of the Super 8 with round six last weekend.

The round opened on Thursday night as Hull FC edged a 19-18 win over Wakefield Trinity. Trinity started the better of the two sides with an 11th minute try from Joe Arundel for 0-4. Jacob Miller extended the lead with Liam Finn converting for 0-10.  Hull fought back with Mahe Fonua crossing with Marc Sneyd converting for 6-10, the score was 6-12 at the interval as Finn kicked a late penalty.

A self-converted try from Sneyd levelled at 12-12 before a Gareth Ellis try with five minutes left saw Sneyd convert before kicking a drop goal for 19-12. Trinity set up a frantic finish with a Mason Caton-Brown try which Finn converted for 18-18 with two minutes left, Finn attempted a last-gasp drop goal which narrowly missed to ensure FC claimed the win.

 Friday night saw a comfortable 44-2 win for Leeds Rhinos over Salford Red Devils.

Salford struck first as Gareth O'Brien kicked a penalty two minutes in for 0-2 before Leeds went ahead with a Liam Sutcliffe try with Danny McGuire crossing three minutes later and  Kallum Watkins converting for 12-2. Leeds went into the interval leading 16-2 after a try five minutes before the break from Tom Briscoe. 

A brace from Matt Parcell sandwiched an Adam Cuthbertson effort, Watkins converting twice for 32-2. The rout was completed by two scores in the final ten minutes as Anthony Mullally and Brett Ferres crossed with Watkins converting for 44-2.

St Helens continued their top four push with a comfortable 40-16 victory over Huddersfield Giants. Saints flew out of the blocks with early scores from Jonny Lomax and Regan Grace with Mark Percival converting both for 12-0. Huddersfield cut the deficit with a try from Oliver Roberts with Danny Brough converting for 12-6. Saints went into half-time in control as Lomax crossed for his second try which Percival converted ahead of a self-converted try for 24-6.

Ben Barba extended Saints lead within six minutes of the restart, Percival kicking for 30-6 ahead of an effort from Ryan Morgan for 34-6. Hudds reached double figures as Ryan Hinchcliffe went over and Brough converted for 34-10 before an effort from Jordan Rankin made it 34-16. Saints would have the final say though as Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook crossed three minutes from the end with Percival converting for 40-16.

My attendance for the week came on Sunday as Castleford Tigers dented Wigan Warriors' top four hopes with a 38-20 win.The Tigers opened the scoring inside five minuted with a Greg Eden try for 0-4 before a rapid hat-trick for debutant Jake Trueman in the space of 17 minutes with Paul McShane converting twice for 0-20 into half-time.

Greg Minikin extended the Tigers' lead within six minutes of the restart with McShane kicking for 0-26 before three scores in nine minutes saw Wigan battle back. Tom Davies crossed first with Sam Tomkins and Tommy Leuluai also going over, George Williams converting twice for 16-26. Castleford confirmed the win with Michael Shenton crossing and McShane converting for 16-32. Wigan closed the gap with a Willie Isa try before Minkin scored his second late on which McShane converted.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

The Qualifiers Round Five Review

The Qualifiers reached round five and at this point two sides confirmed Super League spots for 2018, one from each division meaning one side will be relegated from the top flight. 

The round opened with a close battle as Warrington Wolves edged a 32-30 win over Leigh Centurions. Leigh struck first as James Clare crossed inside four minutes with Josh Drinkwater converting for 0-6 before the Wolves turned it around with tries from Matty Russell and Ben Westwood, Declan Patton converting for 10-6. 

A rapid reply from Leigh saw Liam Hood and Antoni Maria cross with Drinkwater converting both efforts for 10-18. Warrington would lead at half-time though as Kurt Gidley (Patton conv) went over ahead of a late try from Kevin Brown for 20-18. Leigh regained the lead within six minutes of the restart as Atelea Vea crossed and Drinkwater converted for 20-24.

Warrington drew level with Peta Hiku's try just before the hour mark for 24-24 but within two minutes, Lachlan Burr crossed and Drinkwater converted for 24-30. Warrington were to comeback again though as Chris Hill crossed and Harvey Livett converted for 30-30 with Livett sealing the win with a penalty on 67 minutes.

Hull Kingston Rovers regained their Super League spot at the first attempt with a 12-6 win over Widnes Vikings.

Rovers were relegated in last season's Million Pound Game but secured automatic promotion with the win that began with an 11th minute penalty from Jamie Ellis which gave KR a 2-0 advantage. Widnes took the lead on 23 minutes as Hep Cahill crossed for a try which Lloyd White converted for 2-6.

Rovers levelled with a Thomas Minns try in the final seconds and Ellis converted for an 8-6 half-time lead. The win and subsequent promotion for Rovers was confirmed ten minutes from the end as Ryan Shaw  went over for 12-6.

Catalans Dragons continued their battle to retain a Super League place with a 26-12 win over Featherstone Rovers. The Dragons struck first with a Krisnan Inu try inside six minute which Luke Walsh converted for 6-0. Fev hit back through Samuel Brooks four minutes later with Kyran Johnson converting for 6-6.

Catalans regained the lead with a Walsh penalty before two rapid scores as Brayden Wiliame and Ben Garcia crossed with Inu converting the latter for a 18-6 lead that was cut five minutes before half-time by a try from Anthony Thackeray with Johnson converting for 18-12.

The hosts extended their lead to 20-12 on 66 minutes with a penalty from Inu before Sam Moa crossed late on with Inu converting for 26-12.

London Broncos continued their push to reach the Million Pound Game with a 36-14 win over Halifax. Fax started rapidly as Steve Tyrer crossed inside two minutes for 0-4 before London turned the score around with tries from Alex Walker, William Barthau and Andy Acker swith Jarrod Sammut converting the lot for an 18-2 advantage.

Mitch Calahane replied for Fax with Tyrer converting for 18-8 into the half-time interval. Rhys Williams crossed for the Broncos on 53 minutes with Kieron Dixon converting for 24-8.Dixon crossed for a try of his own ten minutes later with Elliot Kear crossing two minutes later, Sammut converted both for 36-8. Halifax had the last say on the scoreline though as Rob Worrincy crossed for 36-14 with five minutes left of the 80.

Super 8s Round Five Review

The Grand Final is under a month away now after round five of the Super 8s took place this weekend.

The round opened on Thursday night as St Helens stunned Wakefield Trinity late on to claim a 18-16 win. Trinity struck first as Bill Tupou crossed on 11 minutes for a 4-0 lead that was increased to 6-0 nine minutes later by Liam Finn's penalty goal. 

Saints levelled with a try from Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Mark Percival conversion four minutes later, 6-6. Wakefield regained the lead at 12-6 with a second try from Tupou with Finn converting. Finn added another penalty ten minutes after half-time for 14-6 with Theo Fages crossing for the visitors on 64 minutes, Percival converting for 14-12. Finn added another penalty goal with 11 minutes to go but Saints fought back right at the end as Jonny Lomax went over with Percival converting to secure the win. 

My attendance this round was a trip up to see Wigan Warriors overcome Hull FC with a 30-20 victory. FC struck first with a fourth minute penalty from Marc Sneyd, 2-0.

Wigan hit back through Oliver Gildart with George Williams converting for 2-6. FC levelled within three minutes with a Mahe Fonua try for 6-6 but a penalty from Williams gave Wigan a 6-8 lead. FC went down to 12 men two minutes later with Liam Watts dismissed after a collision with Michael McIlorum.

An Anthony Gelling try three minutes after the restart saw Williams convert for 6-14 and Wigan went further ahead just six minutes later as Tom Davies crossed, Williams kicking for 6-20. However, FC staged a comeback with a Sika Manu try and a second score from Fonua with Sneyd converting both either side of a penalty goal for a 22-20 lead. Wigan would avoid defeat through thanks to a second score from Gelling and John Bateman try in the final three minutes with Williams converting the latter.

A battle between the top two saw leaders Castleford Tigers claim a 38-24 win over Leeds Rhinos. Leeds opened the scoring inside six minuted as Kallum Watkins crossed and converted for 0-6. Castleford levelled with a Greg Eden try and Luke Gale conversion for 6-6. The Tigers took control with a flurry of scores as Ben Roberts crossed twice either side of tries from Jake Webster and Alex Foster with Gale converting the lot for 30-6 into the interval.

Leeds cut the gap with a Jamie Jones-Buchanan try which Watkins converted for 30-12 before Greg Minikin went over for Cas with Gale kicking for 36-12. Leeds closed to 36-18 after Matt Parcell's try, Watkins converting before Gale swept over a penalty for 38-18. Leeds did have the last say on the scoreline though as Mitch Garbutt crossed late on with Watkins converting for 38-24.

Saturday afternoon saw the round come to an end as Salford Red Devils eased to a 52-14 win over Huddersfield Giants. A rapid start from the hosts saw Gareth O'Brien kick a third minute penalty ahead of efforts from Kris Welham and Tyrone McCarthy, O'Brien converting both for 14-0. 

The advantage increased with tries from Manu Vatuvei and Niall Evalds with a second from Welham in-between, O'Brien converting twice for 30-0. Hudds avoided a first-half blank as Jermaine McGillvary crossed on 38 minutes, 30-4. 

Salford struck within a minute of the restart as Vatuvei claimed his second try with O'Brien converting before Jake Bibby went over four minutes later for 40-4. Oliver Roberts cut the gap for the Giants eight minutes later with Danny Brough kicking for 40-10. The rout was confirmed by a further penalty from O'Brien with him going on to improve tries from Ben Murdoch-Masila and Josh Jones for 52-10. The final say went to Hudds as Ryan Hinchcliffe crossed two minutes from the end.