Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Top Eight Hunt Hots Up

Super League XIX has been one of the most unpredictable seasons in the game's history and that tradition continued in round 22 with three of the bottom six stunning their trio of opponents who sit in the top five.

Clare Double Saves Tigers
After staging a late comeback at Leeds in the previous round, Castleford repeated their battling spirit  with a late double from Clare earning them a vital point at Hull.

 Hull went into the game with hopes of boosting their play-off chances and made a good start as Fetuli Talanoa crossed for the opening try in the 16th minute and with Jordan Rankin converting the hosts led 6-0 but Castleford responded well with Michael Shenton crossing in the 24th minute to reduce the deficit to 6-4 which remained after Marc Sneyd failed to convert.

Hull regained their six point lead when Jordan Abdull crossed for a try on the half-hour mark and with Jordan Rankin successful for a second time, Hull led 12-4 and held the strong lead into the interval. However, Castleford fell further behind just three minutes into the second half as Kirk Yeaman crossed for the hosts and with Jordan Rankin maintaining his 100% success with the boot, Hull were in control at 18-4.

Castleford gave themselves hopes of a second successive comeback as Marc Sneyd scored a try in the 68th minute and converted his own effort for an 18-10 score but Hull were soon stunned by two tries in three minutes from James Clare who crossed in the 74th and 77th minutes but Sneyd's failure to convert either left the score at 18-18 as both sides claimed a point. An incorrect result and failed prediction of 20-38.

Rhinos Edge Out Red Devils
Salford's play-off hopes suffered a dent as Leeds improved their chances of claiming the League Leaders Shield in a narrow on Friday night.

The Red Devils started the better of the two sides as Junior Sa'u crossed for the opening try in the 13th minute which despite a video referral was awarded and with Josh Griffin converting successfully, Salford led 6-0.

Leeds responded well and soon drew level as Zak Hardaker crossed for the Rhinos in the 21st minute and after a video referal, the try was awarded and Hardaker was able to convert his own effort for 6-6. Leeds went ahead just two minutes later as a nice move ended with Kallum Watkins scoring a try and Zak Hardaker converting for a 6-12 lead.

However, the two sides went into the half-time interval level after Theo Fages scored for the hosts just a minute before the hooter and with Josh Griffin converting the score became 12-12. Two tries in seven minutes from Leeds put them in control as Carl Ablett and Stevie Ward both crossed and with Zak Hardaker converting once from two attempts for a 12-22 lead.

Jordan Walne reduced the deficit for Salford just before the hour mark with a try that Josh Griffin successfully converted to bring the score to 18-22 and it seemed to unnerve Leeds as when they were awarded a penalty in the 67th minute, Zak Hardaker elected to kick for goal missed ensuring a tense last 13 minutes.

Leeds were able to hold on and claim the win but Salford came so close to recording a third successive win and surely must be a contender for the final top eight spot. A correct result and came close with the 18-36 prediction.

Saints Charge Dents Widnes Hopes
St Helens maintained their hopes of claiming the League Leaders Shield with a comfortable win over neighbours Widnes.

Saints made a superb start with Mark Flanagan opening the scoring after only six minutes and Mark Percival converted for a 6-0 lead which became 10-0 when Tommy Makinson added a second try in the 18th minute.

Two tries in ten minutes from Mose Masoe put the Saints in firm control with Mark Percival converting once from two attempts for a 22-0 lead which had the potential to increase just before the break when Magraff Leuluai was sin binned after a team warning but Widnes held Saints out until the interval.

However, Widnes' 12 men conceded two tries in the first four minutes of the second half as Tommy Makinson crossed for his second try ahead of a score for Jordan Turner with a single conversion from Mark Percival creating a 32-0 lead.

Widnes hit back in style with three scores in four minutes as Cameron Phelps crossed twice before Stefan Marsh scored Widnes' third try of the game and two conversions from Danny Tickle reduced St Helens lead to 16 points at 32-16.

The fight back from Widnes seemed to hit Saints hard as they thundered back with two scores in four minutes with Tommy Makinson claiming his hat-trick ahead of a try from Willie Manu and with Mark Percival converting both, the lead increased to 44-16.

Widnes had the last say on the game despite the inevitable defeat as Rhys Hanbury scored a try nine minutes from the end and with Danny Tickle converting, the score became 44-22 which lasted until the hooter and ensured St Helens maintained their place at the top while defeat for Widnes meant their rivals for eighth place could capitalise later in the round. A correct result and close prediction of 36-18.

Rampant Robins Rout Broncos
London's search for a win in 2014 was extended to 22 games without a victory as Hull KR's 11 try haul boosted the Robins play-off hopes.

Josh Hodgson crossed after nine minutes to open the Robins account and with Travis Burns converting for 0-6, London had to comeback from behind once again but Greg Eden handed them a tougher task with two tries either side of a Kevin Larroyer score and with Travis Burns converting all three, Hull KR raced into a 0-24 lead which became 0-26 just before the break after a Travis Burns penalty.

London failed to hold out for more than four minutes of the second half as Liam Salter crossed for a try and despite no conversion from Travis Burns, the Robins reached 30 points but London did respond with a try from Jordan Atkins for 4-30.

However, Hull KR resumed their scoring charge as Michael Weyman and Ade Gardner crossed for tries just before the hour mark with the Travis Burns converting once from the two attempts for a 36 point lead at 4-40.

Adam Walker continued the Robins scoring spree in the 63rd minute and with Travis Burns adding the conversion for 4-46, London's hopes of a win seemed to be at an end but they did give themselves hope as Jordan Atkins scored his second try of the afternoon three minutes later and Oscar Thomas converted for 10-46.

However, Hull KR stormed over 60 points with a late trio of tries with Michael Weyman and Liam Salter crossing for their second scores of the game before Greg Eden sealed his hat-trick in the 80th minute with the first two converted by Travis Burns. Despite missing the third effort, Burns finished with a personal tally of 18 points as the Robins won 10-62. A correct result but wide with the 18-26 prediction.

Bradford Treble Stuns Wigan 
Against a backdrop of glorious sunshine, Bradford and Wigan faced off in a stunning and memorable 80 minutes that sadly for the travelling Warriors had more negatives that positives.

Both sides had mixed starts but Bradford came closest to opening the scoring when Luke Gale's grubber kick out to the wing looked to worry the Wigan defence but they held firm and even responded well enough to take the lead themselves.

A fine pass from Matt Bowen saw him pick out Dom Manfredi out wide who raced down the wing to cross for the first try of the afternoon but a tough touchline kick from Matty Smith missed and meant Wigan led 0-4.

Wigan continued to pressurise the Bradford defence and did well enough to force the Bulls into a succession of goal-line dropouts but were unable to convert the opportunities into an end product but nearly paid for the lack of end product.

A superb set down the middle for Bradford resulted in Elliot Kear looking to have touched down in the corner but after a discussion between the officials, the try was denied but the set seemed to unnerve Wigan as a couple of mistakes on the Bradford 10 metre line and their own 10 metre line could have cost them dearly.

However, Bradford were soon level as they utilised the advantage of a penalty to sent a run of passes out wide to allow Danny Williams to cross for a try in the corner and with Luke Gale converting from long range, Bradford led 6-4.

Bradford increased their lead with five minutes left of the half as an horrendous error from Matt Bowen just in front of the Wigan line handed Bradford possession which resulted in a run and try from Joe Arundel with Luke Gale converting for a 12-4 lead.

Wigan came close to a perfect start to the second half when Matty Smith came achingly close to scoring a try but was denied by a strong effort from the Bradford defence and another Wigan chance went awry when Josh Charnley dropped the ball on the Bradford line with the chance to touchdown firmly in his sights.

Wigan's failure to reduce the deficit saw them fall further behind just after the hour mark as a clever pass from Joe Arundel reached Matty Blythe who touched down in the corner and a tough kick from the touchline from Luke Gale missed the target as Bradford led 16-4.

The visitors soon reduced the deficit when Dan Sarginson picked out Dom Manfredi out wide with the Winger racing over for his second try of the afternoon but a truly bizarre conversion attempt from Matty Smith left Wigan with work to do at they trailed 16-8.

The gap should have been reduced to four points when Jack Hughes had the chance to offload on the Bradford line but his pass failed to find a teammate and the move broke down but Wigan forced a goal-line dropout and gave themselves a great chance to stage a comeback but a knock-on with the line in sight dented their hopes.

Bradford capitalised on the mistake with Lee Gaskell racing clear towards the Wigan line but a superb chase and tackle from George Williams and Josh Charnley ensured that the Bradford attacker was held up over the line.

A number of chances for Wigan in the final minutes failed to dent the Bradford charge as the Bulls held on for a famous win and one that surely means they will avoid finishing bottom of the table while defeat for Wigan means they have lost all but one visit to Yorkshire this season with the exception being the win at Hull. An incorrect result and a very wrong prediction of 12-50.

Giants Slay Dragons
Huddersfield boosted their chances of a top four finish with a win over a Catalan side failed to cement their place in the top eight.

Three tries in the first 19 minutes put Huddersfield in control as Kyle Wood, Aaron Murphy and Jermaine McGillvary all crossed for the Giants with Danny Brough's return to kicking duties resulting in only one conversion from the three attempts for a 14-0 lead.

Catalan responded with a try from Eloi Pellissier and followed by a conversion from Sam Williams for 14-6 which lasted into the half-time interval but Huddersfield regained their 14 point lead when Joe Wardle crossed for a try just five minutes into the second half with Danny Brough converting for 20-6

Jermaine McGillvary scored his second try of the afternoon in the 51st minute and with Danny Brough's third conversion, Huddersfield led 26-6 leaving Catalan with a huge task in order to stage a comeback. Catalans comeback began just before the hour mark as Michael Oldfield scored a try but a failure to convert from Sam Williams meant a gap of 16 points at 26-10.

Huddersfield looked to have sealed the win when Joe Wardle crossed for his second try of the game ahead of an effort from Brett Ferres with Danny Brough converting both for a 38-10 lead but Catalan had the last say on the result as Morgan EscarĂ© continued his stellar scoring spree in 2014 with a try in the 76th minute which was added to by a Sam Williams conversion for a final score of 38-16.  An incorrect result and wide with the prediction of 22-23.

Riley Treble Stuns Warrington
Wakefield boosted their hopes of a place in the top eight with a stunning win over Warrington who suffered defeat after a stunning treble from Chris Riley who is on loan from the Wolves.

Warrington made the perfect start as Rhys Evans crossed for the opening try after only 30 second but a tight angle meant no conversion and only a slim 4-0 lead for the Wolves. Chris Riley levelled for Wakefield with a try against his parent club in the ninth minute and with the returning Jarrod Sammut converting, Wakefield went 4-6 in front.

Danny Washbrook increased the lead for the travelling Wildcats in the 19th minute and again Jarrod Sammut was successful with the conversion for a 4-12 lead before Chris Riley raced in for his second effort of the afternoon but Jarrod Sammut's failure to convert meant a 4-16 lead.

Joel Monaghan crossed for the hosts just after the half-hour mark with Chris Bridge's conversion reducing the deficit to 10-16 which lasted into the half-time interval but Rhys Evans crossed for his second effort of the game just three minutes into the second half to put the Wolves level at 16-16.

Chris Riley completed his stunning hat-trick in the 49th minute and with Jarrod Sammut converting, Wakefield led 16-22 but Warrington came back inside five minutes with a try from Stefan Ratchford who converted his own effort for 20-22.

Wakefield increased their lead when Jimmy Keinhorst crossed for a try on the hour mark but a failure to convert from Jarrod Sammut meant a 20-26 score before Sammut redeemed himself with a 68th minute penalty for 20-28 but Warrington bounced back again as Ryan Atkins scored in the 70th minute and with Stefan Ratchford converting for 26-28.

Wakefield sealed the win in stellar style with two tries in the final six minutes as Richie Mathers and Nick Scruton crossed for tries that were both successfully converted by Jarrod Sammut for a final score of 26-40 which dents Warrington's hopes of top spot but puts Wakefield firmly in the hunt for eighth place. An incorrect result and wide with the prediction of 28-16.