Monday, 26 May 2014

Top Eight Battle Narrows

A four-day weekend for round 14 saw the home sides dominate with only two away sides securing victories in a programme that saw three teams score 40+ points.

Young Warriors School Red Devils

Thursday night saw a young Wigan side travel to a strong Salford with the Warriors aiming to go second while their opponents looked to move closer to the top eight. 

Both sides had early chances chalked off with Salford crossing first through Meli and Wigan minutes later through Hampshire, Wigan came close to breaking the deadlock when a kick from Powell rand dead just inches from Burgess' grasp.

Salford crossed through Hock before his effort was reviewed and denied for a double movement with a fourth review of the half coming when Sarginson crossed for Wigan only to be denied due to an obstruction. The first awarded try came in the final seconds of the half when superb dribbling kicks from Smith bounced well for Bateman who scored superbly but had to wait for confirmation via a review with Smith converting for a 0-6 lead at the interval.

Wigan started the first half perfectly with Powell crossing for a try but the trend of reviewing continued as the try was awarded with Smith converting for 0-12 which was soon followed by a superb run by Hampshire who found Burgess out wide with the Winger racing over the line and another Smith conversion put Wigan clear at 0-18.

Salford's bad luck continued as they were denied a first try via yet another review with Wigan quelling any worries with a drop goal from Smith for 0-19 which was later followed by a superb combination between Manfredi and Burgess with the latter claiming his second try with Smith converting for 0-25.

Salford had the last say with Meli crossing in the final seconds but Smith's missed conversion meant a 4-25 loss. A correct result and a close prediction of 12-30 to start off the week. 


Rhinos Overcome Airlie Birds

After both suffering defeats in the previous round, Leeds and Hull faced off both looking to get back to winning ways on Friday night.

After a run of stunning home wins in 2014, it was a surprise to see Leeds held to a single score in the first half as Moon scored the opening try in the 24th minute with Sinfield converting for 6-0, a lead that lasted into the interval.

The lead increased in the 55th minute when Singleton scored the Rhinos' second try with Sinfield converting successfully for 12-0 before adding a penalty in the 68th minute for a 14-0 lead that with 12 minutes remaining was not an impossibility for Hull to overturn. However, the chances of a comeback were all but ended as Ward crossed for Leeds and Sinfield maintained his 100% record from the boot for 20-0. Hull avoided being nilled in the final minute as Shaul scored their sole try with Westerman converting for a final score of 20-6. A correct result and a close prediction of 30-12. 

Saints End Giants Charge

After a controversial Cup exit to St Helens earlier in the season, Huddersfield travelled to Langtree Park looking for revenge and to build their superb winning run.

The hosts got off to a brilliant start with two tries in the opening ten minutes from Wheeler and Hohaia with both successfully converted by Walsh for a 12-0 lead that soon became 18-0 when Wellens made it three tries in 14 minutes and Walsh converted for a third time.

Huddersfield responded with a try from Patrick which Brough converted for 18-6 but it did little to stem Saints' scoring spree as Dawson crossed six minutes later and despite Walsh failing to convert, the lead increased to 22-6 and lasted into the interval.

Wilkin extended the lead three minutes into the second half with Walsh converting for a 28-6 lead that was reduced two minutes later when Giants debutant Blackmore made his mark with a try but Brough's missed conversion attempt meant an 18 point gap at 28-10.

Masoe crossed for St Helens in the 53rd minute with Walsh converting for 34-10 with Huddersfield responding instantly through Ferres with Brough's conversion putting the score at 34-16 with more than enough time remaining to stage a comeback.

However in the 67th minute, Wheeler struck for a second time for St Helens with Walsh converting for a 40-16 lead and in doing so surely confirming the win but Huddersfield had their say as Blackmore scored his second try of the evening just four minutes later with Brough's conversion reducing the gap to 18 at 40-22.

The last say went to Walsh who rubbed salt into the wound with a 79th minute drop goal to seal a 41-22 win and ruin my chances of a perfect week of prediction with an incorrect result and wide prediction of 20-28.

Dragons Delight Over Bulls

After Magic performances that were poles apart, Catalan hosted Bradford on a hot Saturday afternoon in Perpignan.

Bradford's task was a hard one in the scorching heat and made worse right from the start as Escare opened the scoring in the first minute for Catalan with Bosc converting for a 6-0 lead before a mistake in the 11th minute allowed Whitehead to extend the lead with a try that Bosc converted well for 12-0 to give Bradford a mountain to climb.

A mountain that became instantly steeper when Oldfield raced clear of the Bradford defence to cross for an easy try with Bosc on fiery form with the boot for a 18-0 lead inside 15 minutes with Bulls fans dreading another hammering.

However, Bradford improved and managed to hold off any further Catalan charges before the interval even going close with a few of their own but at 18-0 down at the break needed to converted attack into tries.

Bradford's improved defence didn't continue into the second half thanks to Escare's second try of the afternoon in the 42nd minute which Bosc converted followed by a Simon try in the 49th minute with Bosc converting for a 30-0 lead.

The response came from Bradford with Foster crossing for the Bulls first try of the afternoon but a failure to convert left them 24 points behind at 30-6, a gap that increased three minutes later when Millard struck for the Dragons and despite Bosc not converting the lead was 34-4.

Pryce scored just after the hour to surely end any hopes for his former club as Bosc's conversion ensured the Dragons had a 36 point lead at 40-4 with the afternoon ending with yet another Dragons score as Taia crossed in the 77th minute and Bosc made it 14 points from the boot with a seventh conversion for a final score of 46-4. A correct result and but wide on the prediction of 36-20.

Nine Try Robins Thrash Broncos

After coming so close to a first win of the season at Magic, London made the long trip to face a Hull KR side buoyant from cruising in the Hull derby.

Hodgson opened the scoring in the 17th minute with Burns converting but an instant second came from Costigan with Burns converting again for a 12-0 lead. London responded through Solomona five minutes later to reduce the lead to 12-4 but two tries in three minutes from Walker and Gardner with the former converted by Burns making for a 22-4 lead at the interval.

A double from Foster in the 48th and 56th minutes both converted by Drinkwater gave London hope with the deficit now reduced to 22-16 but the charge from London seemed to inspire Hull KR who responded in style.

Three tries in the space of nine minutes began with Larroyer crossing ahead of Gardner's second try which Burns converted with the spree ending with a try from Hall with Burns again converting for a 38-16 lead that would need a huge response from London to earn their first win of the season.

However, London failed to respond which proved costly for the Broncos as the Robins confirmed the win with two late tries with Hodgson and Hall claiming their second tries of the afternoon with Burns converting the latter for a 48-16 win. A correct result and not too far off with a 38-18 prediction.

Wolves Overpower Wildcats

Two sides that had very different results in the previous round were Wakefield and Warrington who faced off on Sunday afternoon.

Warrington took the lead in the 12th minute when Ratchford crossed for the opening try with Bridge converting for 0-6 with both sides defending well to keep the score at a single try until just before the interval when Warrington ran riot with three tries with a double from Currie and a try from Ormsby but no conversions meant a lead of 0-18.

Bridge crossed for a try of his own before converting for a 0-24 lead seven minutes into the second half with Walshaw responding for the hosts in the 54th minute to make it 4-24 but Warrington confirmed the in late on with tries from Atkins (75) and Myler (80) both successfully converted by Bridge for a 4-36 win. A correct result but wide with the 18-38 prediction.

Tigers Overcome Battling Vikings

Castleford and Widnes met after both securing wins at Magic and as a result looked to make it two wins in a row.

The hosts took the lead after eight minutes with Shenton crossing for the opening try but Widnes hit back with a try from Brown which Tickle converted for a 4-12 lead. Webster struck for Castleford in the 21st minute with Sneyd's conversion closing the gap at 10-12 before Marsh regained the eight point lead at 10-18 with a try that Tickle converted successfully.

Castleford pulled Widnes back in style with three tries in four minutes from Wheeldon and after Flynn's sin-binning, and a double from Dorn with all three superbly converted by Sneyd for a 28-12 lead which increased to 34-12 in the 65th minute when Clark struck with Sneyd's fifth conversion of the afternoon following to give Widnes a 22 point deficit to overcome. 

Two tries in as many minutes from Phelps and Gilmore alongside a Tickle conversion gave the Vikings hope at 34-22 but the Tigers held on for the win. A correct result and perfect prediction of 22 for Widnes but the hopes of 25 for Castleford were a bit off.