After an exciting and unpredictable Magic Weekend spectacular, Super League returned to the regular schedule in round 17 which saw a unique first for the season with more away wins than home wins.
Thursday's round opener saw the huge clash between top eight hopefuls Widnes Vikings and Hull FC with both keen to add to good their Magic Weekend successes. Widnes opened the scoring with a seventh minute try from Jack Owens who converted his effort for a 6-0 lead.
Matt Whitley extended the lead just four minutes later with a try which Owens converted to improve the lead to 12-0 before Tom Lineham cut the gap to eight at 12-4 on 16 minutes. Leon Pryce moved Hull closer to drawing level with a 31st minute try before Lineham's second score on half-time made it 12-12 with Marc Sneyd's conversion completing the comeback for 14-12.
Sneyd extended FC's lead on 52 minutes with a self-converted try for 20-12 with Lineham completing his hat-trick on the hour mark for a two score lead at 24-12 which soon became three as Sneyd sent over a drop goal for 25-12 on 63 minutes which proved to be final say on the contest.
Friday night's televised action saw Warrington Wolves host Catalan Dragons with the Dragons desperate to improve their poor away form and leapfrog their opponents in the race for the top four.
The Dragons started the better of the two sides with a sixth minute try from Tony Gigot which Scott Dureau converted for 6-0, Warrington fought back but took until the 24th minute to get on the board as Ben Currie crossed for a try which Gareth O'Brien converted to level at 6-6. Ryan Atkins put the Wolves ahead on 31 minutes with O'Brien improving the score to 12-6 meaning the Wolves took a narrow lead into the interval.
Catalans responded superbly in the second half with two tries in three minutes from Eloi Pelissier and Elliot Whitehead (Dureau convs) putting them 18-12 ahead before a huge chance for Escaré was blown in front of the Wolves line. The error proved costly for the Dragons as two tries in a minute put them back in front as Atkins claimed his second try ahead of an effort from Chris Hill with O'Brien converting only the once for 22-18.
The win was sealed for the Wolves with 13 minutes remaining as Currie secured his second score of the game for a 26-18 final score which moved the Wolves to within four points of the top three.
After contrasting results at Magic, St Helens hosted Salford Red Devils with the Saints eyeing top spot and the Red Devils desperate for a first triumph since Easter Monday.
Recent meetings between the sides have been considerably one-sided to the Saints and to Salford's detriment, the first half on Friday was no different as St Helens ran in four unanswered tries in the first 40 minutes. Two scores from Tom Makinson sandwiched efforts from Adam Swift and Jordan Turner with the Saints winger converting all four for a majestic 24-0 lead at the interval.
Salford made a great start to the second half with two tries in six minutes as Niall Evalds and Rangi Chase both crossed with Cory Paterson improving both with the boot for 24-12. The potential for a comeback stalled on the hour as Tom Makinson converted a penalty goal before Shannon McDonnell wrapped up the win with a 65th minute try which Makinson converted for a 32-12 triumph.
Friday's trilogy of action also featured the meeting between top eight challengers Hull KR and Castleford Tigers with the Robins eager to bounce back from their Magic Derby defeat while the Tigers looked to build on a good run of form.
Ben Roberts opened the scoring for the Tigers inside six minutes with Luke Gale converting for 6-0 before scores from the in-form Denny Solomona and Tom Holmes (Gale convs) put the visitors in control at 18-0 after 14 minutes. The Robins responded well with a try from Albert Kelly which stand-in kicker Kieran Dixon converted for 18-6.
Castleford regained their 18 point lead with a self-converted try from Gale on 25 minutes before a try from Dixon and a second from Kelly (Dixon conv) gave the Robins hope into the interval with just an eight point deficit. Their hopes rose even further with a first senior try from Aaron Ollett on 54 minutes with Dixon converting for 24-22. However, the Robins were unable to complete the comeback as Liam Finn sealed the points for the Tigers with six minutes left of the 80 with Gale converting for a 30-22 final score.
Sunday's Yorkshire double began with Huddersfield Giants hosting Wigan Warriors with the Warriors looking to record a league double with back-to-back away victories as the Giants looked to avoid falling further adrift of the top three.
A pre-match power cut meant the travelling Warriors had to change in the stadium canteen and the disruption looked to have an effect as Giants debutant Jared Simpson opened the scoring inside four minutes with Danny Brough converting for a 6-0 lead.
Wigan replied through Joe Burges on 17 minutes with Matty Smith converting to level at 6-6 but the equality lasted just 11 minutes as Joe Wardle touched down for the Giants with Brough converting for 12-6. Wigan replied in kind just before the interval as Liam Farrell cut the gap with Smith converting for a level game into the break at 12-12.
Josh Charnley put the Warriors ahead for the first time within five minutes of the restart for 16-12 but a fine long range try from Brough which he converted saw the Giants edge ahead at 18-16. However, Wigan were back in front just three minutes later as Farrell claimed his second try but Smith's miss with the boot left the gap at just two points at 20-18.
Wigan finally opened up a reasonable gap on the hour mark as Charnley crossed in the corner but another missed conversion meant a six point game at 24-16, Smith was successful though with a penalty goal a few minutes later as the score moved to 26-18. The win and the two points were sealed with seven minutes remaining as John Bateman crossed and Smith converted for a 32-18 victory which opens up a five point gap between the two sides in third and fourth.
The round ended with a clash between the top and bottom sides in the league ladder as table toppers Leeds Rhinos travelled to face rock bottom Wakefield Wildcats.
The pre-match focus was how big Leeds would win given Wakefield's shocking form but the Wildcats sprung a shock of their own with the opening try on five minutes through in-form Tom Johnstone. Stand-in fullback Liam Sutcliffe got Leeds on the board on 10 minutes with Sinfield levelling with the boot for 6-6.
Two tries in as many minutes from Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow (Sinfield convs) put the Rhinos in control at 18-6 but Pita Godinet cut the gap for the Wildcats five minutes before the interval for 10-18 before a late effort from Carl Ablett (Sinfield conv) sent the Rhinos into half-time leading 24-10.
Any Wakefield hopes of a repeat of their first half opening were dashed by four Rhinos scores in 12 minutes as Ash Handley struck twice either side of a second for Sutcliffe and an effort from Jimmy Keinhorst with Sinfield converting just once for 42-10. Three further scores either side of the hour mark saw Sutcliffe complete his hat-trick with a self-converted try ahead of a Singleton brace for 58-10.
Despite the huge score, Wakefield battled on and had the last say on the contest with a trio of tries in the final ten minutes as Danny Kirmond, Nick Scruton crossed ahead of Johnstone's second effort with Godinet converting twice for a 58-26 final score.