Monday, 19 May 2014

A Magical Weekend In Manchester

Against a backdrop of glorious sunshine awash with colour, Super League graced the Etihad Stadium for a weekend to remember as the Magic Weekend took place in round 13.
Day one of the event featured four games beginning with the early kick-off between London and Catalan with the Broncos looking to end a 12 game losing streak with a first win of the season.

Dragons Survive Broncos Comeback

A tense start by both sides saw Catalan look to have scored the opening try when Pomeroy crossed in the seventh minute but to the despair of the Dragons fans, the try was denied after a review and the sides remained level.

London brushed of the early worries to open the scoring in the 23rd minute when the in-form Caton-Brown crossed for a superb try, Drinkwater added the conversion for a 6-0 lead as the Broncos confidence began the grow. However, Catalan were level within nine minutes as Duport raced through the London defence to score with Bosc converting for 6 all.

Catalan went in front six minutes later when Whitehead crossed to the line to the joy of the fans from Perpignan with a second conversion from Bosc giving them the momentum into half time with a 6-12 lead.

Lima crossed for the Dragons just before the hour with the try awarded after a short review from the video referee with Bosc successfully converting for a third time for a lead of 6-18 leaving London with work to do to prevent a 13th straight loss.

London did battle back with two tries in the space of three minutes, the first coming from Caton-Brown who crossed for his second try of the afternoon in the 64th minute with Drinkwater converting to bring the gap to a converted score at 12-18. Greenwood powered over the line in the 67th minute with a third conversion from Drinkwater levelling the match at 18 all.

The last meeting between the sides saw London stage a late comeback before losing by a single score so when Whitehead scored his second of the game with nine minutes remaining and Bosc converted for 18-24, London had the chance to avenge the aforementioned defeat  and began the comeback  when Drinkwater crossed for a try in the 75th minute but sadly he missed the vital conversion and London were still behind at 22-24.

However, there was one last chance for London when they were awarded a penalty in the final minute just metres from the Catalan line and chose to go for broke with a tap rather than the safety of a draw that would have come from a goal kick, but sadly there was no end product which meant Catalan secured the narrow win while London's poor run continues. A correct result and a close prediction of 18-22.

Vikings Edge Out Red Devils

The second game of the afternoon saw local rivals Widnes and Salford face off with the Vikings suffering an early blow with Craven knocking himself out while attempting to tackle Hock after only 38 seconds. 

Widnes battled on and went in front in the sixth minute when Flynn crossed for a try in the corner but a tight angled conversion attempt was missed by Tickle as Widnes led 4-0 but Salford hit back with Sa'u scoring in the eighth minute and Mullaney converting to give the Red Devils a 4-6 lead.

Widnes looked to have regained the lead in the 15th minute only to be denied by the video referee who decided it was a goal-line dropout rather than a grounded try while Salford were able to extend their lead in the 21st minute with a fine effort from Chase with Mullaney's conversion putting them clear at 4-12.

Two tries in five minutes saw Widnes draw level at 12 all, the first scored by Owens saw a missed conversion attempt from Tickle with Dean crossing for the second try which was awarded after a review with Tickle again missing with the boot meaning Widnes really should have been ahead 18-12 going into the interval.

Just two minutes into the second half and Salford were back in front as nice play from Hansen saw him pick out Ashurst for a try with Mullaney missing the conversion but Salford now led 12-16. Widnes came back yet again as White scored and an ironic cheer greeted Tickle's first successful conversion that gave Widnes the lead at 18-16.

In what was becoming a trend of the afternoon, Salford hit back two minutes later with a fine solo run by Williams culminating in a try for the Red Devils Winger but Mullaney's missed conversion attempt left a narrow lead of 18-20. The trend continued as Widnes went ahead in the 58th minute after a stunning run and grounding by Hanbury was sent for a review with the replays showing no problems and the try awarded with Tickle kicking the conversion for 24-20.

Tickle extended the gap to six points with a penalty in the 69th minute with Salford looking to have reduced the deficit three minutes later only to have the effort denied due to a layer being offside in the build-up. They did score successfully in the 74th minute when a fine run from Meli ended with him crossing for a try but a failed conversion attempt from Mullaney meant Salford were still behind at 26-24.

After opening the scoring early on, Flynn claimed his second try right at the end to secure the win for Widnes despite Tickle not converting as the Vikings won 30-24. A correct result and a close prediction of 28-20.

Robins Overcome Airlie Birds

The first of the evening games was the Hull derby which certainly lived up the the feisty build up as Hull KR faced city rivals Hull FC with the Robins getting off to the better start.

Salter crossed for the opening try on eleven minutes and Burns converted for a 6-0 lead which soon became 12-0 when Larroyer extended the lead for the Robins with a nice try with Burns on hand to convert for a second time before the KR fans couldn't believe their luck as Salter crossed for his second and the Robins' third inside 24 minutes, Burns maintained his record with the boot for a 18-0 lead.

Hull responded well with a Hadley try which was given after a quick review and Miller converted successfully for 18-6 before FC were denied a second score in the 33rd minute after a video referee review. Their second try did come with two minutes left of the half as a stunning run from Shaul saw him cross for a try and Miller converted for 18-12 at half-time. 

Burns put the Robins 20-12 ahead with a penalty in the 43rd minute before a dangerous tackle from Crookes resulted in him being sent off leaving Hull with 12 men as they chased an eight point gap, a gap than a minute later became 14 points as Gardner crossed for a try and Burns converted for 26-12. 

However, FC didnt let the sending off effect them as they scored twice in the space of four minutes to pull back to 26-24, Houghton scored in the 56th minute with Miller converting for a third time before Paleaasina struck four minutes later and again Miller converted to set up a tense final 20 minutes.

The sides exchanged sets but with no end product until the 72nd minute when Gardner claimed his second try of the game with Burns continuing his perfect record with the boot for 32-24 but with eight minutes to go an eight point gap was not impossible for Hull to cancel out but their hopes were ended with two minutes to go when Hodgson crossed for the Robins and Burns converted for a 38-24 win. A correct result and a perfect guess of Hull's 24 points but wide on KR saying 25.

Young Warriors School Rhinos

The final game of the day saw a young Wigan side take on a strong Leeds side who sat atop the league table.

After surviving heavy pressure from the Leeds attack, Wigan scored the opening try as a high kick was superbly collected by Gelling who crossed for a try which was awarded after a review and Smith converted for 6-0 before converting a penalty for an eight point lead.

A potential game-changing moment came in the 25th minute when a high shot from McIlorum on Peacock led to a brawl between the sides and resulted in three yellow cards being brandished with Wigan duo McIlorum and Bateman and Leeds prop Bailey all sent to the sin bin for ten minutes.

Leeds took advantage of the extra man as they responded with a try from Hall but Sinfield's missed conversion meant a four point deficit at 8-4 but when the sides were back to their full compliment, Wigan extended their lead in style as Green zipped through the Rhinos defence before crossing for a superb try but Smith's conversion found the wrong side of the post as Wigan led 12-4 into the break

Wigan began the first half buoyant by successfully keeping the frustrated Rhinos at bay so much so that they lulled Leeds into a false sense of security with disastrous consequences in the 53rd minute. The Rhinos defence readied for a final tackle kick from Green only for the halfback to attack the line and leave McIlorum in a race against Hardaker with the Loose Forward crossing for a try under the sticks with Smith converting successfully for a 18-4 lead.

 A quick Leeds move allowed Ablett to breach the Wigan defence and cross for a try with Sinfield converting to narrow the deficit to 18-10, Leeds went on to force a dropout before spraying the ball out wide to Hall who crossed for his second try in the corner but Sinfield's miss with the boot left the gap achingly close at 18-14.

Wigan suffered a blow as Green left the field in a bad way and  Leeds had a superb chance to exploit Green's exit when Hall intercepted but a knock on saw Wigan regain possession before the next set saw McGuire race clear before being denied by a superb chase and tackle from Williams with the hooker seemingly kicked in chest in the aftermath.  77 minutes on the clock and the win was in sight for Wigan but akin to last years fierce battle Leeds scored after a high kick found Moon who seemed to ground the ball with Thaler asking for a review.

After numerous replays, the decision was that Moon had knocked on and Wigan held on to claim a famous win with a correct result for me and a close prediction of 24-22.

Tigers Crush Rival Wildcats

The first game of day two saw a Yorkshire derby between Wakefield and Castleford with the Tigers racing into an 0-18 lead inside 22 minutes with Clark opening the scoring in the 13th minute after a review with Sneyd converting well before scores from Carney and Tansey with both converted by Sneyd.

Wakefield had come from behind to win their last two games but this time around they would need a huge turn of events as Castleford went further ahead with a try from Shenton on the half-hour mark with Sneyd missing for the first time as Cas led 0-22 at the interval.

The Castleford number seven was in for a try of his own eight minutes into the second half and converted his own score for 0-28 with Carney scoring his second in the 55th minute and Sneyd converting for a 0-34 lead. Wakefield got themselves on the board two minutes later when Scruton crossed for a try and Sammut converted for 6-34. 

However, any hopes of a third consecutive comeback win ended for Wakefield when Castleford struck twice in five minutes after the hour mark with Sneyd claiming his second try of the afternoon but failed to convert as the Tigers led 6-38 before Mariano crossed for a try and Sneyd redeemed himself with the conversion for 6-44.

Wakefield posted a second try with nine minutes to go when Sykes scored with Sammut converting for 12-44 but the last say went to Castleford as Clark scored his second try in the final minute and Sneyd converted for a seventh time for a crushing 12-50 win over their local rivals.  

Nine Try Giants Crush Bulls

The second game of the afternoon saw featured another Yorkshire derby as Huddersfield took on Bradford with the Bulls opening the scoring after only five minutes with a try from Addy with Foster converting for a 0-6 lead.

Wardle replied with a try for Huddersfield and Brough converted to level the match at 6 all before Bradford regained the lead with a try from Foster but he missed the conversion attempt and the Bulls now led 6-10. Lunt scored a try to bring Huddersfield level before Brough converted for a 12-10 lead which four minutes before the interval became 18-10 with Robinson scoring a try and Brough converting in the 36th minute.

Huddersfield went into the break leading 24-10 as Broughton crossed for a try and Brough converted successfully with the Giants racing into a 34-10 lead just before the hour after tries from Brough and Grix both converted by former.

Bradford's hopes of a comeback were obliterated by three tries in eight minutes from Ta'ai, Mullally and Patrick with Brough on good form to convert all three and claiming a personal tally of 22 points but Bradford had the last say as Foster crossed for his second try in the 77th minute and converted for a final score of 54-16. A correct result but wide with the prediction of 30-18.

 Warrington Overcome St Helens
The final game of weekend saw fierce rivals Warrington and St Helens face off with the Wolves scoring the opening try in the eight minute with Bridge's missed conversion attempt meaning they led 4-0.

The lead increased five minutes later as Evans crossed for a try but again Bridge failed to convert and Warrington led 8-0. The Wolves faithful couldn't believe what they were witnessing as two tries in three minutes from Hill and Evans with the latter converted by Bridge made it 18-0.

Warrington went down to 12 men as Ormsby was sin-binned in the 35th minute and St Helens utilised the extra man advantage to get on the board through Walmsley in the 38th minute with Walsh converting for 18-6 at half-time.

Atkins regained the 18 point lead for the Wolves with a try in the 43rd minute with Bridge converting for 24-6 with Monaghan crossing three minutes later to extend the lead as Bridge converted for a third time for a 30-6 lead that became 36-6 when Russell scored in the 51st minute and Bridge converted.

 St Helens came back in style with three tries in ten minutes from Turner, Hohaia and Dawson with Walsh converting all three for 36-24 and with Warrington wary of a comeback bearing further fruit, Ratchford kicked a drop goal with eleven minutes remaining before the win was confirmed in the 72nd minute with Monaghan's second try of the game and despite Bridge missing the conversion, the Wolves won 41-24. My only failure of the weekend and as a result the 20-32 prediction was wide.