Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Battling Broncos Stun Rhinos

The excitement and unpredictability of Super League XIX continued this weekend as the season rolled through round 24.

Late Warriors Charge Denies Robins

After a fortnight without a game, Wigan made the long trip across the Pennines to face a Hull KR side still with hopes of a top- eight finish. The Warriors traditionally start games on the front foot and despite the slippery surface, they continued that trend as Matt Bowen picked out Dan Sarginson who crossed for a try inside two minutes.

However, Richard Silverwood elected for a video review and after a number of replays, the try was successfully awarded but a tough angle meant Matty Smith was unable to convert as Wigan led 4-0 but Hull KR should have drawn level five minutes later when a nice passing set found Ade Gardner but the winger was unable to collect the ball cleanly and knocked-on just metres from the Wigan try line.

The Robins did draw level after a dangerous grubber kick from Kris Keating bounced in the in-goal area and was touched down by Craig Hall and despite Richard Silverwood electing for a video review, the try was awarded after a few replays but Travis Burns was unable to convert meaning the sides remained level at 4-4.

Wigan looked to regain the lead and a fine run from Liam Farrell through the Robins defence put Wigan in good field position and the next play saw Matty Smith sent a dangerous kick forward which after after a pass from Anthony Gelling saw Josh Charnley cross for a try but Richard Silverwood elected for a video review and the try was denied as Josh Charnley appeared to have been offside in the build-up to the try.

Hull KR capitalised on the 'No Try' for the Warriors by racing down the field and taking the lead after a nice passing play found Jason Chan who crossed for a try and a good angle allowed Travis Burns to convert to open up a 10-4 lead for the Robins into half-time.

Both sides came close in their next few sets with testing grubbers failing to cause trouble but a costly drop from Matt Bowen close to the Robins line saw Jason Chan break clear and looking on for a certain try until a superb chase back from George Williams denied the try.

However, Chan's pacy run had put KR in a great field position and a pass out wide in the next play saw Ben Cockayne cross for an easy try which saw Travis Burns unable to convert leaving the score at 14-4. Wigan looked to be in with a great chance of reducing the deficit when Anthony Gelling found Josh Charnley but unfortunately it was via a forward pass.

Wigan did close the gap with eight minutes to go as Blake Green side-stepped through the Robins defence before spraying a superb offload to Warriors captain Sean O'Loughlin who went over near the uprights for a fine try and created an easy conversion for Matty Smith who setup a tense finish at 14-10.

Tension was high between both sets of fans going into the final minutes but with just seconds left of the 80 minutes, Wigan drew level in amazing circumstances as a dash forward from Anthony Gelling saw him offload out wide to wing partner Josh Charnley who dived over for a try that caused a raucous celebration from the travelling fans in the Colin Hutton stand which put the score at 14-14.

All eyes focused on Matty Smith who had the chance to complete a superb comeback with a touchline conversion and hearts were in the mouths of both sets of fans as he swept the ball forward but the curl saw the ball miss the uprights by just inches and the mood was a strange one as the game came to an end with the sides both claiming a point at 14-14. An incorrect result and wide prediction of 16-28.

Wolves Pounce On Tigers Gamble

Ahead of their first Challenge Cup final appearance in 22 years, Castleford sent a mixed side to take on top four rivals Warrington.

Castleford looked to have made a perfect start when Scott Wheeldon crossed for a try inside four minutes but after a video review, the try was chalked off and it proved to be a costly decision as the resulting set saw Ryan Atkins cross for the Wolves and with Chris Bridge converting , Warrington led 6-0.

Warrington improved their lead with two tries in six minutes with the first a superb move as Michael Monaghan's dash and offload found Gareth O'Brien who crossed for a try with Chris Bridge converting before following up with a converted try of his own for a 18-0 lead. Castleford responded with a try of their own four minutes later as a stunning effort from James Clare in the corner reduced the deficit but the acute angle saw Liam Finn fail to convert at 18-4.

The Tigers started the second half better than the first as they reached double figures with a try from Oliver Holmes with a Liam Finn conversion taking them to 18-10 but Warrington ruined the Tigers fightback in devastating fashion with three efforts in 12 minutes with Rhys Evans, Anthony England and Stefan Ratchford all crossing with the latter converting all three for 36-10 after Chris Bridge had gone off injured.

Castleford attempted to get back in the game but their all out attack proved costly as Warrington confirmed the win with two tries in the final 10 minutes with Joel Monaghan crossing before Rhys Evans crossed for his second of the evening with the gloss on the win sealed after Stefan Ratchford converted both for a final score of 48-10. A correct result and not to far off with the prediction of 32-20.

Saints Move Clear At The Top

St Helens improved their chances of claiming the League Leaders Shield with a comfortable win over a Wakefield side still with slim hopes of reaching the top eight. The hosts took an early lead after Tommy Makinson continued his superb scoring form in 2014 with a try inside three minutes and with Mark Percival adding the conversion for 6-0.

Wakefield looked to respond but instead fell further behind in the 26th minute when Josh Jones crossed for a try and with Mark Percival converting for a second time, Saints led 12-0 and looked to carry the lead into the half-time interval but saw their lead halved when Danny Washbrook scored for the Wildcats just before the break and with Jarrod Sammut converting, the score moved to 12-6 at the mid-point.

St Helens made a perfect start to the second half as Shannon McDonnell marked his debut with a try just seconds after the interval and with Mark Percival converting for 18-6, the Wildcats needed a good response and delivered in the 51st minute as Richard Owen crossed for their second try of the evening but a failure to convert from Jarrod Sammut left them behind at 18-10.

Wakefield's hopes of staging a comeback suffered a trio of blows as St Helens took control of the game in the space of 12 minutes with Sia Soliola crossing ahead of second efforts of the evening for Shannon McDonnell and Josh Jones with Mark Percival converting all three for 36-10.

St Helens scoring spree ended in the 70th minute when Lee Gilmour crossed for a try against his former side and with Jarrod Sammut converting for 36-16, Wakefield still had a chance of staging a shock but right at the end, Tommy Makinson confirmed the win with his second try of the game with Mark Percival converting for a final score of 40-16. A correct result and reasonably close with the prediction of 32-22.

Locke The Key For Salford

Salford kept up their hopes of sneaking into the top eight with a comfortable win over a Catalan side who are in danger of slipping out of the top eight.

The travelling Dragons made the better start of the two sides with Micheal Oldfield crossing for the opening try inside five minutes but with Thomas Bosc failing to convert, the lead was slim at 4-0 but Salford bounced back with two tries in four minutes with Kevin Locke and Junior Sa'u crossing with the Red Devils fullback converting both for a 12-4 lead.

Locke continued his superb start to the evening with his second try just before the half-hour mark before converting for 18-4, a lead that looked to be lasting into half-time until Niall Evalds struck for the hosts and Kevin Locke converted for a personal tally of 16 points in the first half with the score 22-4 at the break.

Catalan responded well in the second half and reduced the deficit just five minutes into the period with Greg Mounis crossing for a try with Thomas Bosc converting for 22-10 before Theo Fages improved the hosts lead with a try in the 50th minute with Rangi Chase converting for 28-10.

Salford took control of the game on the hour mark as Tony Puletua crossed for a try and with Rangi Chase converting for 34-10, it gave the Dragons a lot of work in order to avoid a defeat and such progress began with eight minutes remaining when Vincent Duport crossed and Thomas Bosc converted for 34-16.

Catalan did have the last say on the game despite Salford sealing the win as Ian Henderson crossed for a try with two minutes left of the 80 and Thomas Bosc converted for a final score of 34-22. An incorrect result and wide prediction of 18-26.

Battling Broncos Stun Rhinos

After seeing fellow Challenge Cup finalists Castleford fail ahead of next week's meeting, Leeds also fell foul of a mixed focus as they blew a comfortable lead away to London which saw a stunning Broncos comeback end their losing run with a first win of 2014. 

Leeds raced into a 14-0 lead inside 13 minutes with tries from Kallum Watkins, Josh Walters and Liam Sutcliffe which when added to by a single conversion from Zak Hardaker began thoughts of a heavy defeat for the hosts.

However, London bounced back superbly with two tries in the space of three minutes with Jordan Atkins and Joe Keyes crossing for the hosts but Josh Drinkwater's failure to convert either effort put the score at 14-8.

Leeds responded with a try from Mitch Achurch just after half hour with Liam Sutcliffe taking over the kicking duties with instant success for 20-8, a lead that increased just before the interval as Zak Hardaker crossed for a try and despite no resulting conversion, Leeds led 24-8 at the halfway point.

London needed a quick response to stay in the game but suffered an early blow in the second half as Liam Sutcliffe crossed for his second try of the afternoon and added a conversion for a 22 point lead at 30-8. However, London responded very well with two tries in four minutes as Kieran Dixon and Mike McMeeken crossed to the joy of the home fans whose delight increased as Josh Drinkwater converted both efforts for 30-20.

Leeds dented London's comeback charge as Mitch Achurch claimed his second try of the afternoon and with Liam Sutcliffe converting for 36-20, another Leeds score would surely end any hopes of a second Broncos comeback. However, the next score came in favour of the hosts as Scott Moore scored a try on the hour and with Josh Drinkwater converting for 36-26, thoughts of a shock comeback began to creep into the minds of the Broncos faithful.

A huge factor in London's poor form in 2014 has been that when they have laid the foundations of a comeback, they have failed to further the progress into a positive result and with 70 minutes on the clock, the trend seemed to be continuing. Joe Keyes had been a shining light for Broncos across the afternoon but he went even further with two stunning tries in as many minutes as he completed a superb hat-trick in the 73rd minute.

Keyes' double not only reduced the deficit but with Josh Drinkwater successfully converting both, London's comeback was complete as they led 38-36 with just six minutes remaining and thoughts of a first win were at the forefront of the minds of the home fans.

The clock ticked into the final minute and London were awarded a penalty in a good position and elected to kick for goal with thoughts drifting back to their late error at the Magic Weekend against Catalan which cost them a draw as they turned down a kick at goal. This time around, Josh Drinkwater converted the penalty successfully to move the score to 40-36 and surely seal a famous win.

However, Leeds have been famous this season for late charges and when Kallum Watkins raced over for a try, London's joy looked to be dashed but after a discussion between the officials, Watkins second effort was denied as he had been deemed to enter touch in the build-up and as a result, London celebrated their first win of the season, one that will live long in the memories of the Super League. An incorrect result and wide prediction of 18-30.

Giants Dent Vikings Hopes

Huddersfield boosted their hopes of a top four finish with a win over a Widnes side who as a result are still not safe in the top eight. The hosts opened the scoring inside seven minutes when Larne Patrick crossed for the first try of the afternoon with Danny Brough converting for a 6-0 lead.

Widnes responded well and drew level in the 21st minute when Danny Tickle crossed for a try before successfully converting his own effort to level the score at 6-6 but Widnes looked to be going into the break in front as Danny Tickle's penalty in the 37th minute put them in front at 8-6. However the lead fell just before the interval as Joe Wardle crossed for the hosts and with Danny Brough converting they led 12-8.

A cagey second half saw the sides separated by just four points until the 64th minute when Jermaine McGillvary extended Huddersfield's lead with a try and despite Danny Brough failing to convert, the score moved to 16-8 and the Giants looked to be in control when Anthony Kaufusi registered an effort in the 70th minute and with Danny Brough converting for 22-8, the hosts looked to be on for the win.

Widnes had other ideas as Rhys Hanbury crossed for a try just three minutes later and with Danny Tickle converting for 22-14, the Vikings still had hopes of a comeback but such hopes were dashed with a minute to go as Shaun Lunt confirmed the win for the Giants with a try that Danny Brough converted for a final score of 28-14. A correct result and reasonable prediction of 36-20.

Bulls Dent FC's Top Eight Hopes

Bradford's good form since their relegation continued as they secured a narrow win over Hull who now look likely to miss out on the top eight as a result.

The visitors went ahead inside five minutes when Jamie Shaul crossed for the afternoon's opening try and with Joe Westerman converting, Hull led 6-0 but increased their lead 13 minutes later when Gareth Ellis crossed for a try and with Joe Westerman converting the lead became 12-0. Bradford bounced back well with two tries in nine minutes before the interval with Jamie Foster and Joe Arundel crossing with the former converting both for 12-10.

Bradford started the second half just as well as they had ended the first with Adam Sidlow putting them in front with a try in the 44th minute followed by a conversion from Jamie Foster for 16-12 before Joe Arundel claimed his second effort of the afternoon just four minutes later with Jamie Foster's conversion taking them to 22-12. 

The hosts extended their lead to 28-12 as Jay Pitts crossed for a try against his parent club with Jamie Foster converting successfully before Hull hit back with Gareth Ellis crossing for his second effort of the afternoon with Joe Westerman converting for 28-18.

Bradford looked to be in control with 10 minutes to go as Danny Addy crossed for a try and with Jamie Foster converting successfully, the Bulls led 34-18 but they were made to work for the win as Hull posted two late efforts as Setaimata Sa and Tom Lineham both crossed with a single conversion from two attempts from Joe Westerman resulting in a final score of 34-28. An incorrect result and wide prediction of 18-20.