The end of May has arrived so fast but the joy of the arrival is that round 16 saw the annual Magic Weekend take place but for 2015, the event made its début at St James' Park in Newcastle. The six games took place over the two-day weekend with a few surprise outcomes at both ends of the table.
Saturday's opening game saw the clash between Salford Red Devils and Widnes Vikings with both side keen to move up the league ladder with a vital victory but in a bad-tempered game, the Vikings came out on top with a 38-16 win.
Salford made the better start as Cory Paterson scored the opening try on 12 minutes before Patrick Ah Van replied for Widnes just four minutes later for 4-4. Widnes took the lead just three minutes later through Dan Galea (Jack Owens conv) for 10-4 before a second try from Ah Van and one from Kevin Brown (Owens conv) set up a 20-4 lead. Salford suffered a blow just before the interval with Darrell Griffin dismissed for a high shot on Matt Whitley.
Brown (Owens conv) added his second try just three minutes after the restart for 26-4 before the 12 men of Salford responded through Greg Johnson and Ben Jones-Bishop (Owens convs) to cut the deficit to ten at 26-16. Brown sealed his hat-trick on 62 minutes with Owens improving the lead to 16 at 32-16 before a 70th minute try from Stefan Marsh followed by Owens fifth success completed the 38-16 triumph.
Fabulous FC Rout Rueful Robins
The second game of the afternoon was the Hull derby as Hull FC took on fierce city rivals Hull KR with the 'hosts' keen to avenge their humbling defeat in the last meeting between the sides back in March.
FC made the better start of the two with Kirk Yeaman crossing for the opening try on seven minutes (Marc Sneyd conv) for a 6-0 lead but the Robins replied within four minutes as Josh Mantellato ran in a self-converted try to level the score at 6-6. FC regained the lead with two tries in seven minutes as Fetuli Talanoa and Jamie Ellis crossed with Sneyd improving just the latter for 16-6.
The Robins reduced the gap to four as Kieran Dixon scored on the half hour with Mantellato successful with the boot for 16-12. Mark Michell ensured FC would lead by ten at the interval with a 35th minute try which Sneyd improved for 22-12.
Talanoa and Jordan Rankin ran in a try each inside the first six minutes of the second half and with Sneyd converting both, FC were in control at 34-12. However, the Robins fought back with second tries of the game for Dixon and Mantellato but the latter was unable to improve either effort at 34-20.
FC sealed the win with Talanoa completing his hat-trick on 64 minutes before Yeaman crossed for a second time nine minutes from the end with Sneyd improving both for six successes with the boot in the 46-20 win.
Wonderful Warriors Extend Leeds Magic Woes
Day one came to an end with the headlining clash between table toppers Leeds Rhinos and fierce rivals Wigan Warriors with the Warriors keen to avenge their defeat in the last meeting between the sides while maintaining their perfect Magic record against the Rhinos.
Wigan made the better start of the sides with Dan Sarginson scoring the opening try on seven minutes for 4-0 before Adam Cuthbertson replied for Leeds six minutes later with Kevin Sinfield improving his effort for 6-4.
Joel Moon extended the Rhinos lead on 18 minutes with Sinfield successful with the boot for 12-4 but Wigan staged an amazing six minute comeback as George Williams and Joe Burgess both raced clear for superb tries which Matty Smith improved for 14-12 at the interval.
As the hour approached, the defences of both side seem to stretch and on 58 minutes, a try of sheer greatness as Matt Bowen blistered through the Leeds defence to open his account for the season and handing Smith a great angle to convert, which he did for 20-12.
The game entered the final ten minutes with the sides just eight points apart but any hopes of a comeback for Leeds were dashed four minutes from the end. A last-ditch touchdown from Bowen on 76 minutes which Smith converted made it 26-12 before Smith added the icing on the cake with a drop goal two minutes later for a 27-12 victory.
Day two began with Catalans and Huddersfield facing off for the first time at Magic having lost their 'derbies' of London and Bradford from the previous year, the Giants hoped to close the gap to the top three while the Dragons looked to move into the top five.
A tight first quarter saw the sides remain level at 0-0 past the 20 minute mark with the first points scored on 27 minutes as Jodie Broughton crossed for the Giants with Danny Brough improving the effort before adding two penalties for a 10-0 lead into the interval.
The Giants increased their lead just five minutes after the restart with Broughton's second try which Brough improved for 161-6 before the Dragons fought back through Eloi Pellisier on 48 minutes with Scott Dureau improving the effort for 16-6.
Huddersfield seemed to let their lead slip as Catalans reduced the lead through Todd Carney (Dureau conv) on 64 minutes before a try from Zeb Taia drew the Dragons level with ten minutes remaining with Dureau giving them an 18-16 lead with the boot. Carney struck again on 73 minutes but Dureau was unable to convert leaving the lead at six points. Huddersfield took advantage of the miss in the final seconds as Jermaine McGillvary crossed for a try before Brough sealed a superb kick under pressure to seal a 22-22 draw.
Saints Edge Out Wolves
The second game of the day saw the huge clash between St Helens and Warrington which was denied the expected headlining third game by the long travel for the sides and their fans from the North East but made for a superb spectacle all the same.
Warrington opened the scoring through Stefan Ratchford on 10 minutes for 4-0 before Ben Harrison extended the lead to eight points on 18 minutes. St Helens fought back a try from Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook which Tom Makinson improved before adding a penalty two minutes later to level at 8-8.
However, the parity was short lived as Warrington regained the lead through Ryan Atkins' effort on 28 minutes which Chris Bridge improved before adding a penalty just before the interval to send the Wolves into the break in front at 16-8.
St Helens closed the gap through Adam Swift's 48th minute effort before going ahead just before the hour through Jon Wilkin's try and the resulting conversion from Makinson for 18-16. Makinson had the last say on the outcome as he send over a game-sealing penalty on 74 minutes to complete a 20-16 victory.
The Magic Weekend came to a close with the fierce derby between neighbours Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Wildcats with the Wildcats having named Brian Smith as their new coach just minutes before kick-off.
Despite the good news, Wakefield's start was a poor one as Castleford raced into a 16-0 lead inside ten minutes with a brace from Denny Solomona before Jordan Tansey's touchdown with Luke Gale converting twice from three attempts. Wakefield responded well with two tries in three minutes as Tom Johnstone and Dan Smith crossed with Jacob Miller improving both efforts for 16-12.
The two sides traded tries before the interval with Michael Shenton (Gale conv) crossing for the Tigers before Johnstone sealed his second score for 22-16 into the half-time break. Solomona extended the Tigers lead with his hat-trick try just eight minutes after the restart with Gale's conversion making it 28-16.
A nine-minute salvo from Ashley Gibson put the Tigers in control before Solomona struck for a fourth time three minutes later with Gale successful with two of three attempts at goal for 44-16. Wakefield's hopes were all but over after the Tigers spree and their miserable second half was compounded by a self-converted try from Gale and a hat-trick try from Gibson with Gale completing a thundering 58-16 rout.