Sunday, 28 September 2014

Giants Lit Up By Fiery Dragons

After the shock exit of Leeds in week one of the play offs, fellow Yorkshire duo Huddersfield and Castleford looked to keep up the hopes of an all-Yorkshire Grand Final as they hosted Catalan and Warrington in week two.

The league standings suggested a final four of first, second, third and fourth was on the cards but continuing the trend of what has been a truly unpredictable season there was a chance for both fifth and seventh to defy the odds and put themselves just one win away from a dream ticket to Old Trafford.

Wolves End Tigers Fairytale

After suffering a 41-0 humiliation to St Helens in week one, Castleford's second chance in the play offs saw them host Warrington who qualified for week two with a 22-19 win over Widnes.

Warrington went into the game with hopes of taking the next step towards a third consecutive Grand Final and began that journey superbly with a fourth minute try from Ryan Atkins which Stefan Ratchford converted for a 6-0 lead.

Castleford bounced back in the 24th minute with a try from Jamie Ellis but surprisingly their efficient goal kicker Marc Sneyd missed the resulting conversion attempt at 6-4 but after missing the chance to level, Castleford fell further behind within three minutes as Joel Monaghan crossed for a try for the Wolves who led 10-4 despite Stefan Ratchford's failure to convert.

Warrington increased their lead to eight points with a Stefan Ratchford penalty goal in the 52nd minute with Castleford responding with a try from Luke Dorn just five minutes later and this time around, Marc Sneyd converted successfully to reduced the deficit to two at 12-10.

However, Warrington regained their eight point lead in a clinical fashion with two tries in the space of four minutes as Gareth O'Brien and Rhys Evans both registered efforts with Stefan Ratchford converting once from two attempts for 22-10.

Stefan Ratchford increased his personal tally to eight with a second penalty goal in the 71st minute for 24-10 and surely secured a place in week three with only nine minutes remaining but Warrington made the victory certain just two minutes later with a second try of the evening for Joel Monaghan and with Stefan Ratchford's conversion, they led 30-10.

The Wolves did have a negative ending to a great win though as Rhys Evans was sent to the sin bin in the 75th minute and Castleford took of having an extra man as Micheal Shenton crossed for a try just a minute later but Marc Sneyd was unable to convert leaving the final score at 30-14. A correct result and not far off with the prediction of 24-20 to Warrington.

Giants Lit Up By Fiery Dragons

After a 57-4 mauling away to Wigan in week one, Huddersfield's second chance saw them host a Catalan side who stunned Leeds 24-20 with a last-gasp win.

The pre-match for the game was far from ideal for both sides as a major power failure at John Smith's Stadium left half of the pitch in darkness but a decision was made to allow the game ahead with hopes the lighting would eventually reach full capacity.

Huddersfield have a poor record in the play offs and their nerves looked to have cost them from the kick off as Michael Oldfield looked to have opened the scoring in the Dragons first set but after a video review it was deemed that Jodie Broughton had prevented the Dragons winger from grounding the ball.

The Giants shook off the early scare and opened the scoring in the fourth minute with Jodie Broughton crossing for a superb try which Danny Brough was unable to convert at 4-0 but Catalan fought back and drew level in the 12th minute with an effort from Darryl Millard with a tough conversion attempt missed by Thomas Bosc at 4-4.

Catalan looked to have gone ahead from the restart as Ben Pomeroy crossed for a try after a stellar back-handed pass from Elliot Whitehead but after a video review the try was chalked off for a knock-on in the build up.

The Dragons did go in front in the 20th minute as Michael Oldfield crossed for a try which was successfully converted by Thomas Bosc for a 10-4 lead but Huddersfield responded well and drew level in the 27th minute with Aaron Murphy's effort converted by Danny Brough for 10-10.

Huddersfield looked to have gone ahead just four minutes into the second half as Broughton broke through the Dragons defence to go over for a try but after a video review the effort was chalked off due an obstruction in the build-up.

Catalan were awarded a penalty just two minutes later and wary of the Giants attack, they elected to go for goal with Thomas Bosc converting successfully for a slim 12-10 lead. Video reviews seemed to be the theme of the evening as another was called for on the hour mark after Luke Robinson looked to have touched down for a try and the score was awarded with Danny Brough converting for 16-12.

Huddersfield have had their share of tight games this season with their 17-16 win over St Helens the most recent example so Catalan had to be wary of a drop goal attempt with as the game entered the final 15 minutes.

However the worry ceased in the 69th minute when Ben Pomeroy touched down to level the score at 16-16 and with huge pressure and a tight angle, Thomas Bosc swept over a superb conversion for 18-16 . Both sides pushed for more points but the final ten minutes saw both the Giants and Dragons defences hold firm.

A final score of 18-16 meant that the Dragons became team from seventh place to reach the last four and put them just one win away from Old Trafford for the first time since 2009 but the task will be a tough one as they were 'clubcalled' by League Leaders Shield winners St Helens. A correct result and not far off with the prediction of 28-24 to Catalan.

As mentioned above St Helens will face Catalan while the other semi final sees a repeat of last season's Grand Final as defending champions Wigan face runners-up Warrington in what will be a second meeting in the space of four weeks.