Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Catalan Win Shatters Tigers Dream Finish

After 26 exciting and some very unpredictable regular season rounds, the final and 27th round saw the League Leaders Shield winners and the top four positions finally decided going into the last play-off system of the current era before the re-structure in 2015.

Wing Duo Star As Warriors Double Wolves

After a superb win over Leeds in the penultimate round of the regular season, Wigan played host to Warrington with the winners guaranteed a top three finish and with the Warriors looking to complete a first league double over the Wolves since 2003.

A clever kick from Blake Green rebounded off a Warrington defender resulting in a wiping down of the tackle count and after a powerful run from Dan Sarginson, the ball was passed out to the wing for the Joe Burgess to collect and touch down for the opening try of the evening but Matty Smith was unable to convert at 4-0.

After having been denied twice already, it was third time lucky for Joel Monaghan as collected the ball unmarked on the wing after a quick passing play from Warrington carved Wigan open and allowed Monaghan to cross for an easy try which Stefan Ratchford converted successfully for a 6-4 lead for the Wolves.

Warrington extended their lead just after the half-hour as a well-worked move saw Richie Myler break through the Wigan defence and cross for a try but the replay showed a knock-on had been missed by the officials in the build-up but with Stefan Ratchford converting for 12-4, Warrington were beginning to build momentum.

The momentum saw them score a third try in the space of nine minutes as a superb kick from Richie Myler saw Joel Monaghan collect and look to have touched down before crossing the dead ball line but a video review was called for by Phil Bentham and in the replays, the Wolves winger had been successful by the slimmest of margins and the try was awarded with Stefan Ratchford converted for 18-4 at the interval.

Alike last season's Grand Final, Wigan would have to overturn a 14 point deficit to secure the victory and just five minutes into the second half, the foundations were laid for a comeback as a clever pass from Dan Sarginson saw Joe Burgess collect out wide before crossing for a try which was unconverted as Matty Smith missed from a tough angle at 18-8.

Wigan looked to have reduced the deficit further in the 52nd minute as a stylish grubber kick from Anthony Gelling saw Josh Charnley collect before chipping a kick forward which he successfully re-gathered before touching down for a superb try which went to a video review before being awarded but another miss from Matty Smith left Wigan still behind at 18-12.

Tensions rose between the sides just three minutes later as Paul Wood took exception to Eddy Pettybourne's reaction to the Warrington man's tackle and the two exchanged punches which resulted in both being shown yellow cards and sent for a 10 minute trip to the sin bin.

Warrington reached the 20 point mark after Wigan gave a way a penalty just metres from their own line and Warrington elected to go for goal and with Stefan Ratchford converting the penalty goal successfully the Wolves now led 20-12 but were soon the architects of their own downfall.

A rapid passing move saw Warrington close in on the Wigan line only for a pass from Micheal Monaghan to glide into the arms of Josh Charnley who raced 80 metres down the field unchallenged to cross for a stunning try under the posts which Matty Smith converted successfully for 20-18.

Wigan completed their stunning second half fight back in the 66th minute as superb move from Blake Green saw him power over the Warrington line and look to have touched down despite pressure from a number of Wolves defenders which resulted in a video review but the try was eventually awarded and Matty Smith converted for a 24-20 which saw Wigan hold on for the win. A correct result and achingly close prediction of 24-22.

Giants Dent Saints Hopes  

Friday night saw St Helens make the trip to Huddersfield knowing that they would claim a first League Leaders Shield in six years if they avoided defeat and they looked to have got off to a good start as Willie Manu crossed for the first try of the game and after a video review the try was chalked off due a losse carry. 

However, St Helens did open the scoring with two tries in the space of three minutes as Tom Makinson as James Roby crossed with Mark Percival converting once from two attempts for a 10-0 lead but the Saints suffered a blow just three minutes later as Alex Walmsley was sent off after a bad tackle on Luke Robinson who went of injured as a result.

The advantage of an extra man saw Huddersfield build momentum but an effort i the 29th minute from Ukuma Ta'ai was denied before Jake Connor reduced the deficit with two minutes left of the half with a try which he converted for 10-6 at the interval.

Huddersfield made a superb start to the second half as Shaun Lunt levelled the score with a try in the 42nd minute before Jake Connor added the conversion for a 12-10 lead which was extended in the 57th minute when Leroy Cudjoe crossed for a try and despite Jake Connor failing to convert, the Giants held a six point lead.

However, St Helens drew level as Lance Hohaia raced over for a try and with Mark Percival converting the score moved to 16-16. As Huddersfield were missing likely drop goal candidates Luke Robinson and Danny Brough, thoughts turned to the Challenge Cup meeting earlier in the season which saw a controversial 17-16 win for St Helens but with nine minutes to go Leroy Cudjoe swept over a drop goal to put Huddersfield in front at 17-16.

A fortnight ago, St Helens needed just one point from four to claim top spot but with five minutes to go the dream looked to be over as Jermaine McGillvary looked to have confirmed the win for Huddersfield only to see his effort chalked off via a video review. However, it mattered not as Huddersfield held on and secured a top four finish while St Helens' fate rested on Castleford losing to Catalan. An incorrect result and slightly off with the predicting 26-18 to St Helens.

Red Devils Succeed Against Vikings

Salford hosted Widnes in a game where the Red Devils looked to end the season a high while Widnes looked to go into their first play-off campaign on the back of a win but two early tries for Salford dented the Viking's hopes.

Captain elect Harrison Hansen posted the first try inside three minute with Josh Griffin converting successfully before Junior Sa'u crossed in the 10th minute with Josh Griffin converting for a second time for 12-0.

The hosts extended their lead with two efforts in as many minutes just before the interval as Tony Puletua and Rangi Chase both registered efforts which Josh Griffin successfully converted for a 24-0 lead at half-time.

The Red Devils looked to have wrapped up the win just before the hour mark as Josh Griffin crossed for a try in the 51st minute before converting his own score and continued his perfect kicking percentage in converting Junior Sa'u's second try in the 57th minute for a 36-0 lead.

Widnes avoided a humiliating end to the regular season as Patrick Ah Van prevented a nilling with a try in the 72nd minute with Jack Owens converting successfully for a final score of 36-6. An incorrect result and prediction of 23-22 to Widnes.

Hull Extend Rhinos Losing Streak

Despite claiming the Challenge Cup last month, Leeds will go into the play-offs into a negative vain as they fell foul of a superb comeback from the resilient Airlie Birds who actually opened the scoring in the 15th minute after a try from Tom Lineham but a tough angle saw Jordan Rankin unable to convert at 4-0.

Leeds drew level before going into the interval in the lead as Carl Ablett scored a try in the 37th minute which Kevin Sinfield converted before the Leeds captain successfully kicked a drop goal for a 7-4 lead at the break.

Danny McGuire crossed for a try just five minutes into the second half and with Kevin Sinfield converting for 13-4, the Rhinos edged in front and extended their lead in the 57th minute when Ryan Hall crossed and Kevin Sinfield converted for 19-4.

Hull bounced back with two quick tries in the space of four minutes as Gareth Ellis and Fetuli Talanoa both registered efforts but with Jordan Rankin unable to convert either the Black and Whites were still seven points adrift at 19-12.

However a brace of tries in the final nine minute turned the game around as Jack Logan crossed in the 71st and 77th minutes to bring Hull level before putting them ahead with both tries successfully converted by Jordan Rankin to secure a famous 24-19 win for the Black and Whites meaning Leeds go into the play-offs in sixth and on a run of five consecutive defeats.  An incorrect result and off with the prediction of 22-12 to Leeds.

Catalan Win Shatters Tigers Dream Finish 

After St Helens failed to secure the League Leaders Shield on Friday night, Castleford knew a win against Catalan in Perpignan would see them claim the shield for the first time in their history and in a tight first 20 minutes both sides were strong in attack and defence.

However in the 23rd minute, Catalan looked to have opened the scoring as Ian Henderson breached the Castleford line but after a video review the effort was chalked off but it served as a warning as the hosts did go ahead on the half-hour as Morgan Escaré boosted his hopes of becoming the league's top try scorer with an effort which Thomas Bosc converted for 6-0.

The pacy Escaré crossed for a second try just before half-time which was given via a video review but Thomas Bosc's conversion attempt bounced back off the post meaning the Dragons took a 10-0 lead into the interval.

A rapid start to the second half saw Zeb Taia cross for the Dragons and with Thomas Bosc converting for 16-0, Castleford's table topping dreams were beginning to slip away but the Tigers responded with a try from Kirk Dixon in the 45th minute with Marc Sneyd converting for 16-6.

Two tries in three minutes were referred to the video review with Ben Pomeroy's effort chalked off in the 53rd minute before Ian Henderson's score was awarded in the 56th minute and with Thomas Bosc converting for 22-6, the Dragons were in control.

The win seemed to have been wrapped up in the 64th minute when Elliot Whitehead crossed for a try which Thomas Bosc converted successfully for 28-6, a lead that lasted until the end of the game and meant that with Castleford failing to win, St Helens has claimed the League Leaders Shield.  An incorrect result and wrong prediction of 30-24 to Castleford.

Broncos Suffer Late Bulls Fightback

Bradford travelled to London for a game that would be the last for both sides in Super League until at least 2016 should either be promoted at the first attempt and they really put on a farewell show in sharing 82 points.

Bradford made a rapid start as they posted three tries in the first 12 minutes as Luke Gale crossed twice ahead of an effort for Joe Arundel with Jamie Foster converting twice from the three attempts for 16-0.

London responded well with three tries of their own in a 15 minute period as Matt Cook, Joe Keyes and Josh Drinkwater all registered efforts with Drinkwater himself converting all three for a 18-16 lead and the Broncos extended their lead three minutes before half-time as Erjon Dollapi crossed for a try which Josh Drinkwater converted for a 24-16 lead at the interval.

Bradford fell further behind to a Nick Slyney try in the 57th minute with Josh Drinkwater's conversion increasing the lead to 30-16 before three tries in the space of 11 minutes with Brett Kearney, Jay Pitts crossing ahead of Luke Gale completing his hat-trick with Jamie Foster converting all three for a 34-30 lead.

London regained the lead with nine minutes to go as Josh Drinkwater claimed his second try of the game and successfully added a conversion for 36-34 but their hopes of ending the season on a high were dashed by two late tries from Bradford.

Luke Gale crossed for his fourth score of the afternoon before Manase Manukafoa scored in the final minute with Jamie Foster converting both to secure a 46-36 victory. An incorrect result and wrong prediction of 24-20 to London.

Robins Duo Bid Farewell In Style

The final match of the regular season saw Wakefield host Hull KR with the sides both eager to secure a ninth placed finish with the Robins also hopeful over leap-frogging their city rivals in the table.

A perfect start for the Robins saw Omari Caro score the opening try inside three minutes but a missed conversion attempt from Travis Burns meant a slim 4-0 lead which increased to 22-0 as the Robins ran in three tries in the space of 11 minutes as Macauley Hallett and Greg Eden crossed ahead of Omari Caro's second effort of the game with Craig Hall converting all three.

Macauley Hallett claimed his second try of the game with three minutes left of the first half with Omari Caro completing his hat-trick just before the half-time hooter for a 30-0 lead at the interval but Hull KR continued their scoring spree with just five minutes on the clock in the second half as Keal Carlile crossed for a try which Craig Hall converted for 36-0.

Wakefield finally got themselves on the score-sheet with a try from Dean Collis in the 56th minute which was converted by Paul Sykes for 36-6 but the Wildcats joy lasted just three minutes as Greg Eden sealed his second try of the game and with Craig Hall converted successfully, the Robins led 42-6.

Wakefield reduced the arrears with two tries in as many minutes with Chris Riley and Andy Raleigh both crossing for efforts with Paul Sykes converting both for a final score of 42-18. A correct result but wrong prediction of 30-20 to Hull KR.