Monday, 21 July 2014

Saints Stay Top As Bulls Suffer Drop

Round 21 has seen both highs and lows for the 14 Super League clubs with three sides scoring 50+ points and all but one team reaching double figures but sadly the biggest low is the relegation of former Super League champions Bradford Bulls.

Sinfield Dismissal Costs Rhinos
Thursday night saw a fierce Yorkshire derby between Leeds and Castleford with the top of the table awaiting the winners.

Castleford made the perfect start with Michael Shenton scoring inside two minutes with a try that was awarded after a video review followed by a Marc Sneyd conversion for 0-6 but Leeds responded well and were level with a try from Tom Briscoe followed by a conversion from Kevin Sinfield for 6-6.

Leeds went ahead in the 16th minute when Ryan Bailey crossed for a try and Kevin Sinfield added a conversion for a 12-6 lead but Castleford hit back quickly with Weller Hauraki crossing for a 19th minute try and Marc Sneyd converting to bring the sides level at 12-12.

Marc Sneyd looked to have crossed for a try of his own in the 23rd minute but after a video review was deemed to have knocked-on in the process of grounding. The error proved to be costly for the Tigers as just two minutes later, Carl Ablett crossed for the Rhinos and after a video review was awarded the try with Kevin Sinfield converting for a third time for a 18-12 lead but in what was becoming a case of 'I score, you score', Castleford drew level six minutes before the break with a Nathan Massey try and a Marc Sneyd conversion for 18-18 at half-time.

Castleford looked to have taken the lead just seven minutes into the second half when Justin Carney crossed for a try but after a video review the try was denied and the sides remained level until just before the hour mark when Carl Ablett scored his second try of the evening and Kevin Sinfield converted for a 24-18 lead.

However, Kevin Sinfield transformed from hero to villain with seven minutes remaining as after a break from Luke Dorn saw the two players meet in a tackle, they faced off with the Leeds captain looking to have 'headbutted' the Castleford Fullback and as a result was sent off leaving Leeds with 12 men to defend their slim lead.

However, their holding off lasted just two minutes as Grant Millington finished off a fine passing move to cross for a try and Marc Sneyd's superb conversion made the score 24-24 meaning the next score was likely to come from a drop goal.

Leeds bizarrely attempted a 'one-pointer' via Jamie Peacock whose effort caused fury among his team-mates after a shocking miss and when Marc Sneyd had a chance for Castleford his effort was subjected to a charge-down meaning the sides each ended with a point. An incorrect result bus so close with the prediction of 24-22.

Williams Treble Sends Warriors Top
After a superb win against a bad-tempered Catalan in Perpignan, Wigan resumed hosting duties with the visit of Hull FC with the Airlie Birds looking for back-to-back wins at the DW stadium.

Due to an extended injury list, Lewis Tierney deputised at Fullback for Wigan and made a stellar start as after collecting a high kick he raced virtually the length of the field to score a stunning opening try to a raucous cheer from the home fans and despite Matty Smith missing with the boot, Wigan led 4-0.

Hull responded and levelled in the seventh minute with some luck as a Jordan Abdull grubber kick bounced kindly for Fatuli Talanoa to ground for a try and similar to Matty Smith, Jordan Rankin missed with the boot with the score at 4-4.

Both sides continued to threaten the opposing defence but Wigan gave Hull a scare in the 25th minute as a superb kick from Sam Powell came achingly close to finding Josh Charnley for a potential try but instead forced Hull to concede a goal-line dropout. The resulting set saw Wigan regain their lead as Anthony Gelling offloaded out wide to wing partner Josh Charnley who evaded two tackles to dive for a try in the corner with Matty Smith converting successfully for 10-4.

Wigan increased their lead on the half-hour mark as a quick play the ball allowed George Williams to cross for a try and Matty Smith improved the effort with a conversion for 16-4.

Hull looked to respond but it was Wigan who crossed for the next score as a stunning run from Sean O'Loughlin saw him offload to Matty Smith who crossed for a rare try under the posts followed by a textbook conversion to make it 22-4 just before the break.

However, Wigan could have gone further ahead just before the hooter as Jordan James found Scott Taylor who went over the try line but knocked on in the process meaning the Warriors held an 18 point lead into the half-time interval.

Hull breathed a sigh of relief just three minutes into the second half as a fine passing set between Jack Hughes and Lewis Tierney saw Josh Charnley knock-on just before the halfway line with a potential dash for a try on the cards. However, the Hull defence were powerless to stop Wigan's next try as a zig-zag run from George Williams saw him cross for a superb try and an equally good conversion from Matty Smith improved the score to 28-4.

The deficit should have been reduced in the 55th minute when a mazy run from Jordan Abdull saw him race towards the Wigan line only to be denied by a try-saving tackle by Josh Charnley right on the try line, which proved costly for Hull as Wigan

George Williams crossed for his hat-trick try in the 61st minute after collecting a kick from Matty Smith who duly added the conversion for a 40-4 lead which meant the Warriors had scored 40 points in both meeting with the Airlie Birds this season.

The game ended as a contest in the 64th minute when a fine run by Dom Manfredi saw him cross for a try that put Wigan over the 700 point mark in the Super League as they became the first team to reach the milestone and Matty Smith converted for a seventh time from eight attempts for 46-4.

Wigan powered forward from the restart and on the final tackle, Anthony Gelling swept what can only be described as an unbelievable kick which sailed across the field and a combination of John Bateman and Liam Farrell saw Dom Manfredi collect the ball and cross for his second try in as many minutes. Matty Smith missed with the boot but Wigan now led by 46 points at 50-4.

Hull reduced the deficit when a nice passing play resulted in Fatuli Talanoa picking out Liam Watts in support who crossed for a try and Jordan Rankin converted to bring the score to 50-10.

Wigan had the last say on the result and in a brilliant way as Scott Taylor crossed for a try after a battling towards the line with several Hull defenders clinging to him but to no avail as he scored Wigan's 10th try of the evening with Matty Smith converting to make the final score 56-10. The huge win ensured that Wigan completed a league double over Hull and as a result moved to the Super League summit. A correct result but a bit off with the 32-12 prediction.

Vikings Shock Neighbouring Wolves
Widnes gained sweet revenge for the Good Friday humiliation they suffered to neighbours Warrington with a 28-14 victory on Friday night.

The Vikings opened the scoring after only 10 minutes when Jack Owens crossed for the evening's first try and Danny Tickle converted successfully for a 6-0 lead, the sides seemed to very strong in defence as the gap remained at just six points until three minutes before the interval. 

Two tries in three minutes from Rhys Hanbury and Paddy Flynn coupled with a single conversion by Danny Tickle gave Widnes a strong 16-0 lead at half-time but Warrington fell even further behind in the 47th minute when Cameron Phelps crossed for the Vikings' fourth try of the game with Danny Tickle converting for a 22-0 lead that became 24-0 when he added a penalty goal six minutes later.

Warrington's response began just two minutes after the penalty goal as Ryan Atkins crossed for a try but a failure to convert from Chris Bridge left them with a 20 point deficit to erase in order to maintain their stunning winning streak.

Chris Bridge made up for his conversion miss with a try in the 58th minute and converted his own effort to bring the score to 24-10 as the Wolves' comeback hopes began to grow but when Jack Owens scored his second try of  the game on the hour, Widnes led 28-10 denting Warrington's comeback drive.

Ben Currie crossed for a try in the 70th minute but another failed conversion attempt from Chris Bridge left them still 14 points behind at 28-14 with only ten minutes to go and Widnes held firm to secure the win and keep themselves in eighth place. An incorrect result and off with the prediction of 18-38.
  
Saints Extend Broncos Woe
St Helens regained top spot in the table with a comfortable 58-16 win away to London who are still without a win after 21 games.

London fell behind after only seven minutes as Mark Percival crossed for the opening try of the game and successfully converted his own effort for a 0-6 lead before the lead increased to 0-12 as Kyle Amor scored for the visitors and Mark Percival converted for a second time.

Jordan Turner crossed for the Saints' third try of the afternoon after only 19 minutes and despite a missed conversion attempt, St Helens led 0-16 but the lead was instantly reduced as James Woodburn-Hall crossed for the hosts and Josh Drinkwater added a conversion for 6-16.

Jordan Turner crossed for his second try of the game in the 24th minute and Mark Percival converted for a third time to regain the 16 point lead at 6-22 before a try from Paul Wellens just after the half-hour mark and a Mark Percival conversion made it 6-28, a score that lasted into the half-time interval.

Saints reached the 30 point mark in the 47th minute as Mark Percival scored his second try of the game but failed to convert as the visitors led 6-32 and London responded well with a try from Will Lovell in the 52nd minute but a miss with the boot from Josh Drinkwater meant a deficit of 22 points.

London scored back-to-back tries as just after the hour mark, Denny Solomona crossed for the hosts with Josh Drinkwater converting to bring the score to 16-32. Saints soon regained their 20 point lead as Matty Dawson scored but a failure to convert put the score at 16-36 with 14 minutes left to play.

London had showed a lot of fight but succumbed to a four try spree in the last 10 minutes as Luke Thompson, Sia Soliola, Anthony Laffranchi all crossed ahead of Matty Dawson's second try with Mark Percival converting three out of four to complete a comfortable 16-58 win. A correct result and perfection on London's 16 points but off with predicting 38 for St Helens.

Dragons End Wildcats Streak
Catalan cemented their place in the top eight with a comfortable 40-6 win over Wakefield which ended the Wildcats unbeaten run under James Webster.

The Dragons looked to have opened the scoring after 12 minutes when Elliot Whitehead crossed for a try but after a video review the effort was chalked off. Catalan did score off their next set as Darryl Millard scored a well-worked try with his score improved by a Sam Williams conversion for 6-0.

Morgan Escaré continued his stunning try-scoring form with an effort in the 16th minute which saw him race through the Wildcats defence to score and despite a failure to convert, Catalan led 10-0.

Elliot Whitehead crossed for a try six minutes later and this time around there was no need for a review as he scored a nice try with his score added to by Sam Williams' conversion for a 16-0 lead but Wakefield were carved open again as Zeb Taia crossed for the hosts four minutes later with Sam Williams converting for a third time for a 22-0 lead.

The reverse meeting between the sides saw Wakefield humiliated the Dragons and at the half-time interval the Dragons looked to be gaining revenge as a second try for  Elliot Whitehead coupled with a Sam Williams conversion made it 28-0.

Catalan breached the 30 point mark just seven minutes into the second half when a stellar run from Morgan Escaré saw him cross for his second score of the evening and after Sam Williams converted successfully, the Dragons led 34-0.

Elliot Whitehead completed his hat-trick just before the hour mark and with Sam Williams converting to bring up the 40 point mark, Wakefield's superb unbeaten run was surely coming to a halt. Wakefield did avoid suffering a nilling as Reece Lyne crossed for a try in the 74th minute with Paul Sykes converting for a final score of 40-6. An incorrect result and a long way off with the prediction of 24-28.

Giants Confirm Bulls Relegation
Bradford travelled to face Huddersfield knowing that only victory would prevent them from being relegated to next season's Championship.

Bradford started the better of the two sides and took the lead in the seventh minute as Luke George crossed for a try against his former club but Jamie Foster's miss with the boot meant a slim 0-4 lead for the Bulls, a lead that lasted only two minutes as Jake Connor crossed for the Giants to level the score. Leroy Cudjoe looked to put the hosts in front but missed with the conversion attempt.

Adam O'Brien regained the lead for the Bulls with a try in the 18th minute and Jamie Foster converted for a 4-10 lead but Ukuma Ta'ai crossed for hosts just four minutes later with Leroy Cudjoe converting for 10-10.

Luke George scored his second effort of the afternoon in the 26th minute and with Jamie Foster converting, the Bulls now led 10-16 but again Huddersfield responded in kind as Luke Robinson scored a try and Leroy Cudjoe converted to level the score at 16-16.

Huddersfield went in front for the first time with two late tries in the first half as Chris Bailey and Jermaine McGillvary crossed for tries with Leroy Cudjoe converting for a 26-16 lead at the interval. Bradford began the second half perfectly as Brett Kearney crossed for the first try of the half after only two minutes and despite Jamie Foster's conversion attempt hitting the post, the Bulls were just a single score behind.

However, Huddersfield regained their 10 point lead when Brett Ferres scored in the 48th minute and with Leroy Cudjoe converting for a 32-20 score, the Bulls stay as a Super League club was beginning to slip.

Joe Wardle made the Bulls task even harder when he crossed for a try just after the hour mark and with Leroy Cudjoe converting for a 18 point lead at 38-20, Bradford needed a huge comeback to keep the threat of relegation at bay.

Bradford's hopes all but ended when Jermaine McGillvary scored twice in the space of eight minutes and with Leroy Cudjoe converting once from two attempts, Huddersfield led 48-20 with just six minutes remaining. 

The travelling Bulls fans continued to cheer their team on and it paid off when Brett Kearney crossed for his second try of the game with four minutes to go and with Jamie Foster's conversion, Bradford reduced the deficit to 48-26.

However, Ukuma Ta'ai crossed for his second effort of the game in the final minute and despite Leroy Cudjoe's failure to convert, Huddersfield secured a 52-26 win and confirmed Bradford's relegation to the Championship. A correct result but off with the prediction of 32-20.

Red Devils Secure Win Over Robins
Salford travelled to face Hull KR knowing a win would guarantee their Super League status for 2015 and also boost their hopes of securing a play-off place.

The Robins took the lead in the 20th minute as Josh Hodgson crossed for the first try of the afternoon and with Travis Burns converting, they led 6-0 but Salford responded well with a try from Mason Caton-Brown in the 28th minute but a missed conversion attempt from Josh Griffin meant they trailed 6-4.

Hull KR increased their lead to eight points at 12-4 as Craig Hall crossed for a try and Travis Burns converted for a second time with six minutes to go before the interval.

Two tries in the space of four minutes from Niall Evalds and Junior Sa'u both converted by Josh Griffin saw Salford go in front at 12-16 before Josh Griffin claimed a try of his own in the 56th minute before converting his own effort for 12-22.

Hull KR's hopes of a comeback suffered a blow when Travis Burns was sin-binned after a reacting to an apparent shoulder charge from Tommy Lee and Salford took advantage as Theo Fages crossed for a try in the 61st minute with Josh Griffin adding the conversion for 12-28.

Josh Griffin scored his second try of the afternoon just eight minutes later and converted his own effort to bring his personal tally to 18 points at 12-34 but he was unable to reach 20 points as after Greg Johnson had crossed for a try in the 71st minute, the conversion attempt missed with the score at 12-38.

Hull KR had the last say as Michael Weyman crossed for a try with two minutes remaining and having returned from the sin-bin, Travis Burns converted for final score of 18-38. An incorrect result and prediction of 25-22.