Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Fan Day Delight As Young Warriors Rout Robins

On Saturday afternoon, a huge crowd of 1091 attended the annual Wigan Warriors Fan Day and the crowning glory came in the event's finale as the Wigan U19s strolled to victory over the visiting Hull Kingston Rovers U19s. The sides had met in the re-arranged reverse fixture just four days earlier with Wigan winning 34-14 but second time around it was a vastly different outcome.

The Warriors made a superb start with two tries inside 11 minutes as Jack Higginson and Paddy Jones crossed with Jake Shorrocks converting only the latter for a 10-0 lead before Jones and Higginson secured their braces either side of an effort from Liam Marshall with Shorrocks converting the lot for 26-0.

The Robins first team suffered a huge 60-0 defeat over at the DW back in May and unless they improved, the Academy side were on the cards for a similar fate when Jack Wells and Luke Waterworth scored in the final minutes of the half with Shorrocks kicking for a a 36-0 half-time lead.

Kieran Sherratt extended the Warriors lead just two minutes after the restart with Shorrocks converting for 44-0 and with Gabriel Fell adding a ninth try and Shorrocks kicking for 50-0, it was a case of just how many points Wigan could post with a full half hour remaining.

However, the Robins shored up in defence but were unable to cut the gap due to the resilient Wigan defence which had been superb all afternoon and as both sides began to leave gaps due to fatigue, Jake Moore (Shorrocks conv) pushed the lead to 56-0. Luke Waterworth and Liam Marshall rounded off a stunning performance with their braces in the final minutes with Shorrocks converting both for a 20 point haul in a crushing 68-0 triumph.

The hugely successful Fan Day can be seen in my accompanying video feature below....

Monday, 27 July 2015

Super League Round 23 Review

After the 'New era of rugby league' began back in February, it is hard to believe that the regular season has come to an end so quickly with this weekend featuring the final round of games ahead of the inaugural 'Super 8's stage. Round 23 saw the mantra of 'Every minute matters' fulfil its pledge for the season with all but one team still with something to play for.

Faltering FC Fall To Wonderful Warriors

The round opened at the KC Stadium on Thursday night as Hull FC hosted Wigan Warriors with the hosts hoping to capture sixth spot while the Warriors had eyes on finishing second ahead of the split.

The Warriors poor away form saw them tipped as underdogs but they defied the odds to open the scoring inside six minutes as Joe Burgess raced clear to score with Matty Smith converting for 6-0 before a clever try from John Bateman (Smith conv) made it 12-0 on 15 minutes. FC replied with a try from Richard Whiting with Marc Sneyd converting to reduce the gap to 12-6.

Wigan restored their 12 point lead within four minutes as Sam Powell touched down for his first try of the campaign with Smith converting for 18-6 before George Williams added a fourth try for the visitors before the interval (Smith conv) for a comfortable 24-6 lead into the break.

Hull had only suffered two defeats at home this season but looked even closer to a third when Matt Bowen (Smith conv) extended Wigan's lead just five minutes after restart for 30-6 before a try from Warriors captain Sean O'Loughlin (Smith conv) left Hull in trouble at 36-6. The hosts responded with an effort from Joe Westerman with Sneyd converting for 36-12 but it proved to be in vain as Wigan posted two tries in the final nine minutes.

Matt Bowen crossed for a superb second try before Dom Crosby rounded off a stunning evening for the Warriors with Smith's seventh and eighth conversions completing a 48-12 triumph which sees Wigan end with three away wins. I took in the game as part of my Away Days feature which follows below.

Super Saints Rout Rueful Robins

Friday's action came from Langtree Park as St Helens hosted Hull Kingston Rover with the Saints keen to secure top spot while deposing their rivals into second while the Robins needed a miracle to avoid missing out on eighth spot.

A tight first ten minutes between the sides soon saw the hosts race into a 24-0 lead with four scores in a ten minute spell as Joe Greenwood, Travis Burns, Matt Dawson and Atelea Vea all crossed with Luke Walsh converting the quartet of tries. 

The Robins responded with two tries in as many minutes before the interval as Kieran Dixon and John Boudebza reduced the deficit with Josh Mantellato converting both for 24-12 at the break.

The Saints shrugged off the Robins response with scores from Adam Quinlan and Mark Flanagan's first of the season (Walsh convs) for a 36-12 lead before wrapping up a comfortable victory with a second from Greenwood ahead of a brace from Adam Swift in the final minutes with Walsh adding two conversions to complete a 52-12 routing of a Robins side now confirmed to miss the top eight as the Saints move to the league's summit.

Whimsical Wolves Trounce Tigers

The stand-out tie of Sunday's quartet came from the Mend-A-Hose Jungle as fifth placed Castleford Tigers hosted sixth placed Warrington Wolves with the Tigers having eyes on fourth spot while the Wolves were keen to close up on their hosts in fifth.

Castleford have been hard to beat at home this season but Warrington looked to rubbish such a fact early on as captain Joel Monaghan signalled his return from injury with the opening try on seven minutes which Gareth O'Brien converted for 6-0.  Ben Westwood added a second try with O'Brien converting before scoring himself for a 16-0 lead. 

Gene Ormsby extended the Wolves' lead for 20-0 before a second effort from Monaghan and a try from Ben Currie completed a perfect first half for the visitors who after O'Brien's conversion led 30-0 leaving Castleford with a huge task to avoid a humiliating defeat. Warrington continued to dominate in the second half with a score from Stefan Ratchford (O'Brien conv) for 36-0 before a first senior try from Academy starlet Sam Wilde put the Wolves in control at 40-0. 

The Tigers avoided a fist home nilling of the season with a consolation try from Junior Moors 0n 70 minutes with Liam Finn converting for 40-6 but Warrington had the last say on the game with Richie Myler crossing in the final minutes for a 44-6 hammering for a Tigers side who head into the split in poor form.

Valiant Vikings Edge Rueful Red Devils

The Select Security Stadium saw the battle for ninth as tenth places Widnes Vikings hosted eleventh placed Salford Red Devils with both sides knowing a win would seal ninth spot at the expense of Hull Kingston Rovers.

Salford opened the scoring with a 16th minute try from rising star Niall Evalds with Josh Griffin converting for 6-0 but the hosts replied just six minutes later with Chris Clarkson touching down with Stefan Marsh's conversion levelling at 6-6. Salford regained the lead on 27 minutes through Cory Paterson with Griffin successful with the boot for 12-6, a lead which sent them into the interval ahead.

The visitors were wary of a fightback and added to their lead with a Griffin penalty on 46 minutes for 14-6 but Widnes replied with a try from Paddy Flynn for 14-10 only for Scott Taylor (Griffin conv) to push the Red Devils into a ten point lead at 20-10. As the game entered the final 15 minutes, Stefan Marsh ran in a self-converted try for 16-20 before Aaron Heremaia drew the Vikings level at 20-20 with ten minute remaining.

 Both sides pushed for what would be a vital win with potential drop-goal attempts failing but in the final minute, Danny Craven was successful and sealed a 21-20 victory which sealed ninth spot and left the Red Devils just one place off the bottom in eleventh.

Giants Glory Against Wishful Wildcats

The only game to feature a side with no potential of moving position saw fourth placed Huddersfield Giants host rock-bottom Wakefield Wildcats with the Giants looking to cement their top four place while the Wildcats looked for some joy in a season which has seen them win just once since their opening double triumph.

Despite their poor season, Wakefield continued their trend of starting well at home with the opening score from in-form Jacob Miller on seven minutes with Craig Hall converting for 6-0 but were pegged back by a six minute double from the Giants as Luke Robinson and Jodie Broughton crossed with a conversion from Danny Brough making it 10-6.

Micheal Lawrence extended the lead for the hosts with Brough adding the extras for 16-6 before quick reply from Scott Anderson (Hall conv) cut the gap to 16-12 before Dan Smith signalled his move from the Wildcats with a try for his new side at 20-12 with Brough converting ahead of a try from Leroy Cudjoe (Brough conv) as the Giants led 28-12 into the interval.

Matt Ashurst and Lee Smith gave the Wildcats hope at 28-20 but a self-converted try from Brough saw the Giants move to 34-20 and with 15 minutes remaining, looking on course for victory but Wakefield cut the gap with a 72nd minute effort from Reece Lyne for 34-24 but were unable to prevent a defeat that sees them end with just six points from 23 games.

Returning Rhinos Deny Dragons

Last but by no means least in this review is the meeting at Headingley between potential table toppers Leeds Rhinos and eight placed Catalans Dragons with the Rhinos knowing a win would seal first place ahead of the split while the Dragons looked for only their second away win with Hull KR's loss confirming their place in the top eight.

Leeds made a superb start with an instant impact from the returning Tom Briscoe whose comeback from injury took just four minutes with Kevin Sinfield converting for 6-0, Tony Gigot replied for the Dragons on 22 minutes with Scott Dureau levelling at 6-6 with the boot. Morgan Escaré put the visitors in front at 10-6 before a second effort from Briscoe saw the sides level at 10-10 just before the interval

Mitch Garbutt opened his account for the Rhinos in the final minute of the half with Sinfield converting for a 16-10 lead into the break before adding a penalty on 46 minutes for 18-10. Scott Dureau crossed for the Dragons on 50 minutes and converted his won score to make it 18-16 but another Sinfield penalty within two minutes made it 20-16.

Kallum Watkins extended the lead on the hour at 24-16 with Brett Delaney (Sinfield conv) pushing the Rhinos to 30 points ahead of a hat-trick try from Briscoe (Sinfield conv) for 36-16 but the Dragons ended the Rhinos' spree with a Gigot sealing his second try with Dureau converting for 36-22 which is how the game ended meaning the Rhinos moved above St Helens at the top as the Dragons ended the regular season with just a single win on their travels.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Super League Round 22 Review

As the Super 8's edge closer, the penultimate round of the Super League regular season- round 22 saw the top eight all but confirmed bar an historic points swing in the final weekend.

Wolves Denied By Last-Gasp Saints 

The action began on Thursday night at the Halliwell Jones Stadium as Warrington Wolves hosted St Helens with the Saints hoping to depose Leeds at the top as the Wolves eyed a top four spot.

A tight first ten minutes saw an array of errors from both sides as they failed to get a grip on the ball in the dry conditions but the scoring soon began as James Roby opened his account for the season on 15 minutes with Luke Walsh converting for 6-0.Walsh added a penalty goal four minutes later to extend the lead to eight points at 8-0.

Warrington responded just before the interval with a comeback try from Ben Currie whose return from a two game suspension was a welcome sight for the Wolves and with Gareth O'Brien converting, the hosts went into the break narrowly behind at 8-6. However, the Wolves were soon ahead as Kevin Penny took advantage of an error from Walsh to race over for a try which when converted by O'Brien gave the Wolves a 12-8 advantage.

St Helens replied just six minutes later as a rare try from Mose Masoe drew them level at 12-12 with Walsh converting to regain their earlier lead at 14-12. The score remained tight into the final five minutes when Warrington utilised a well positioned penalty to draw level at O'Brien converted for 14-14. The mantra with the St Helens faithful is 'Never write off the Saints' and alike the previous week they secured a last-gasp win as Jordan Turner crossed for a match-winning try in the final seconds with Walsh converting to complete a 20-14 triumph.

Rampant Rhinos Rout Sorry Salford

Friday night saw three ties with two hugely focused on Super 8's qualification but the other saw Leeds Rhinos host Salford Red Devils with the Rhinos eager to reclaim top spot and the Red Devils hoping to avoid finishing in the bottom two ahead of the split.

The Rhinos raced into an 18-0 lead inside 21 minutes with a trio of tries from Danny McGuire, Adam Cuthbertson and Kallum Watkins with Zak Hardaker converting all three in the absence of the rested Kevin Sinfield. Brett Delaney extended the lead on 26 minuted with Hardaker converting ahead of a self-converted try for 30-0 on the half hour mark.

Ryan Hall and Joel Moon both registered efforts before the interval with Hardaker converting just the latter for a huge 40-0 lead at the break. Salford needed to stem the Rhinos charge to have any chance of avoiding a humiliation but such a prospect gained strength as Hardaker sealed his second self converted try just eight minutes after the restart for 46-0.

Salford did end the Rhinos scoring spree as Niall Evalds crossed to end a potential nilling on 52 minutes with Cory Paterson converting for 46-6 but that was to be a minor blip in the Rhinos charge as they ran in four tries in 11 minutes with Hall claiming his second try ahead of efforts from Jimmy Keinhorst, Josh Walters and Carl Ablett with Hardaker adding a single conversion for 64-6.

A horror of an evening for Salford got even worse in the final seconds as Ablett secured his second try and with Hardaker converting, the Rhinos completed a 70-6 a demolition of the Red Devils.

Fabulous FC Seal Derby Delight At Rueful Robins

In what was billed as the biggest Hull derby in over 30 years, Hull Kingston Rovers hosted fierce city rivals Hull FC in a battle to secure a spot in the top eight with FC knowing a win would surely seal their place and condemn their neighbours to the bottom four.

The hosts struck first as Shaun Lunt crossed for the opening try on nine minutes with Josh Mantellato converting for 6-0. The visitors replied with a try from Steve Michaels for 6-4 but with Marc Sneyd missing the conversion attempt, the Robins remained ahead. Mantellato extended the lead with a self-converted try on 27 minutes for 12-4.

Tom Lineham crossed on the half hour mark to cut the gap with Sneyd converting for 12-10 but the Robins were pegged back in the final seconds of the half as Lineham crossed for a second time and with Sneyd converting, FC went into the interval with a 16-12 advantage.

The visitors extended their lead on 54 minutes as Michaels claimed his second try with Sneyd converting to stretch the lead to ten points at 22-12, the Robins attempted to stage a comeback but went closest with a missed penalty from Mantellato after the hour mark. The score remained at 22-12 until the end meaning that the hosts will need a miracle to claim a spot in the top eight while their city rivals celebrated claiming such a spot at their expense.  

Warriors Late Show Denies Vikings

Alike the Hull derby, the game at the DW Stadium had the potential to impact the top eight as Wigan Warriors hosted Widnes Vikings with the third placed Warriors keen to complete a perfect home record in the regular season with a cementing of third spot while the Vikings harboured hopes of troubling the top eight.

Wigan made a perfect start as Josh Charnley crossed for the opening try inside two minutes but a tough angle saw Matty Smith fail to convert at 4-0 and the miss was costly as Tom Gilmore levelled for the Vikings just six minutes later. Gilmore converted his own effort to put the Vikings in front at 6-4. 

The visitors extended their lead with a try from Chris Dean on 34 minuted but a failed conversion left Wigan just a single score behind at 10-4 and they cut the deficit in the final seconds of the half as Joe Burgess set himself up for a superb try which Smith converted to level the score at 10-10 into the interval.

A strange second half saw both sides fail to create any real end product for the best part of half an hour but as both defences began to tire, Wigan struck as Ryan Hampshire dived over for a potentially match winning try at 14-10. However, the young fullback's effort seemed to spur the hosts on and in the final seconds, they sealed the win as Anthony Gelling crossed to a huge relief from the home crowd and with Smith converting, Wigan secured a 20-10 victory that ended the Vikings hopes of breaking into the top eight.

Dragons Despair At Giants Glory

Saturday evening saw a hot humid setting at the Stade Gilbert Brutus as Catalans Dragons hosted Huddersfield Giants with the Dragons still not safe in the top eight as the Giants looked to close up on the top three.

A tight first quarter saw both sides fail to make a breakthrough with the Giants guilty of the the most wasted chances but they soon learnt from their errors with the opening try on 28 minutes as Jermaine McGillvary crossed with Jamie Ellis converting for 6-0. Catalans replied just before the interval as Krisnan Inu scored out wide and despite a tough angle, Scott Dureau converted to level the score at 6-6 into the break. 

The Dragons went ahead just five minutes after the restart as Morgan Escaré raced clear to score with Dureau converting with ease for a 12-6 lead but the Giants hit back quickly with a second effort from McGillvary with Ellis levelling the score at 12-12 with the conversion. The Giants kicker added a penalty goal on 54 minutes to edge into a 14-12 lead and Catalans should have drawn level later on with a penalty from Dureau but he failed to convert. The visitors held on for the narrow win at 14-12 and became only the second team after Leeds to claim an away success against the Dragons.

Classy Cas Crush Wishful Wildcats

The round ended with Sunday;s derby meeting at Belle Vue as Wakefield Wildcats hosted Castleford Tigers with the Wildcats hoping to secure only their fourth victory while the Tigers looked to close up on the top four.

Wakefield made the better start of the two sides as Reece Lyne scored the opening try inside five minutes with Joe Arundel converting for 6-0 but the Tigers battled back and levelled through Grant Millington (Luke Gale conv) before Gale crossed for a self-converted try for a 12-6 lead.

Adam Walker crossed with four minutes left of the half with Arundel levelling at 12-12 with the conversion before Mike McMeeken sent the Tigers into the interval ahead with Gale adding a conversion for 18-12. A close first half was soon a distant memory for the hosts as they collapsed in the space of 12 minutes slipping from 18-12 to 40-12.

Tries from Oliver Holmes, Luke Dorn and a brace from Justin Carney were all converted by Gale as the Tigers romped clear. Wakefield stemmed the Castleford spree with a brace from Tom Johnstone for 40-20. However, the mini revival proved to be in vain as Carney ran in two further tries either side of a second from Dorm in the final eight minutes with Gale converting all three for a 22 point haul in a 58-20 rout.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Super League Round 21 Review

The regular rounds of the 'New Era' of Super League are rapidly running out and this weekend saw the 21st round meaning just two more remain before the inaugural series of eights across the top two leagues.

Last-Gasp Warriors Halt Rhinos Charge

The round began on Thursday night at the DW Stadium as third placed Wigan Warriors hosted league leaders Leeds Rhinos with the Rhinos keen to end the Warriors perfect home record in Super League while the Warriors hoped to cut the four point gap between the sides.

On a night of changing weather conditions, Leeds made the better start with the opening try on ten minutes as Paul Aiton dived over for a try which saw Kevin Sinfield convert for a 6-0 lead. Wigan responded superbly with two tries in three minutes as Liam Farrell crosses ahead of a first try of the season for Sean O'Loughlin with Matty Smith converting both for a 12-6 lead.

Leeds drew level on 27 minutes as Brad Singleton scored with Sinfield converting for a 12-12 scoreline that lasted until five minutes before the interval when Matt Bowen collected a high kick in the Rhinos' in-goal area to claim a try and with Smith converting Wigan led 18-12 into the break. The Warriors extended their lead just ten minutes after the restart as Josh Charnley crossed out wide with Smith sealing a superb conversion for 24-12 but Leeds responded quickly with an effort from Ash Handley with Sinfield's conversion making it 24-18.

Leeds were level with three minutes left as Rob Burrow fooled the Wigan defence superbly to dive over and with Sinfield converting for 24-24, the prospect of a draw seemed the most likely ending but Wigan have yet to drop a point at home and maintained that record in the final seconds. Leeds conceded a penalty with 45 seconds remaining and despite being just inside the Rhinos half, Smith slotted the ball through the posts stunningly to seal a last-gasp 26-24 victory.

Late Saints Win Guts Giants

Friday night's action came from Langtree Park as second placed St Helens hosted fourth places Huddersfield Giants with the both sides eager to cement their places in the top four ahead of the split.

After fielding a total of seven players at fullback this season, St Helens included new signing Adam Quinlan and he made a superb start to his Super League career with the opening try on 16 minutes and with Luke Walsh making a successful return to the kicking duties he ensured a 6-0 lead. The Giants hit back through loanee Jack Hughes with Jamie Ellis levelling the score at 6-6.

Saints regained the lead on the half hour as Quinlan sealed his second effort with a Walsh conversion making it 12-6 but Huddersfield hit back within three minutes as Jermaine McGillvary crossed out wide with Ellis converting to level at 12-12. The hosts went into the interval 18-12 ahead as Quinlan rounded off a dream first 40 minutes with his hat-trick try which Walsh converted with ease.

Huddersfield levelled for a third time with a try from Leroy Cudjoe just five minutes after the restart with Ellis converting for 18-18. The sides exchanged tries in a seven minute period before the hour mark as Mark Percival crossed ahead of McGillvary's second try with Walsh and Ellis converting respectively for 24-24.

Back to back scores for the hosts in four minutes after the hour saw them take a 34-24 lead as Joe Greenwood crossed ahead of a second effort from Percival with Walsh converting just the latter and the missed conversion proved costly as the Giants drew level yet again. Tries from Eorl Crabtree and Aaron Murphy saw a single conversion from Ellis at 34-34 to set up a tense final period.

Danny Brough missed a penalty from long range and it was a crucial miss as with two minutes remaining, Walsh sealed a 35-34 triumph for the Saints with a superb drop goal. 

Hull Boost Hopes With Tigers Triumph

Sunday afternoon saw the other four games take place with a potentially vital clash at the KC Stadium featuring top eight hopefuls Hull FC hosting of top four hopefuls Castleford Tigers with FC keen to cement a top eight place ahead of this week's city derby.

The Tigers made the better start of the two sides with Denny Solomona continuing his stellar scoring form with the opening try on five minutes for 4-0. The hosts hit back through Richard Whiting with Marc Sneyd converting for a 6-4 lead but the Tigers responded with an effort from Luke Dorn on 18 minutes with Liam Finn converting to regain the lead at 10-6.

Solomona sealed his second try on 33 minutes to extend the lead to 14-6 which lasted into the interval but a try five minutes after the restart from Jordan Abdull and resulting conversion from Sneyd saw FC close the gap to 14-12. Castleford were unable to regain the lead before a ten minute brace from Tom Lineham put FC in control at 20-14 and wary of a response, Sneyd added a drop goal for 21-14 with nine minutes remaining. However, Ben Roberts crossed on 76 minutes to narrow the gap to three points but a missed conversion ensured a 21-18 defeat.

Wonderful Wolves Deny Wishful Wildcats

After suffering a humiliating 80-0 defeat earlier in the season, Wakefield Wildcats hoped for a huge improvement in a clash of the Smith brothers as Brian's Wildcats hosted Tony's  Warrington Wolves.

Warrington opened the scoring inside seven minutes through stand-in loose forward Stefan Ratchford with Gareth O'Brien converting for a 6-0 lead which became 12-0 six minutes later as Joe Philbin scored with O'Brien converting for a second time. Wakefield replied through Jacob Miller whose self-converted try made it 12-6 but the Wolves stormed clear with tries from Matty Russell and Ben Westwood with a single conversion from O'Brien creating a 22-6 lead.

Wakefield have suffered some heavy defeat this year but they remained in the hunt with a second effort from Miller just before the interval which he converted for 22-10 and he went one better with his hat-trick try just five minutes after the restart for 22-14. However, Warrington reached the 30 point mark with two tries in as many minutes from Daryl Clark and Richie Myler with O'Brien converting both for 34-14.

Miller sealed a fourth try on 68 minutes with Craig Hall converting for 34-20 but it proved to be in vain as Matty Russell's second try in the final minutes put the gloss on a vital win for the Wolves with O'Brien converting for a 40-20 final score that ensures a spot in the top eight ahead of the split. 

Vikings Vanquish Disappointing Dragons

A huge clash at the Select Security Stadium saw Widnes Vikings host Catalans Dragons with both on opposite sides of the eight place battle with the Dragons close to cementing their place while the Vikings are just on the fringes of top eight.

The Dragons away form has been questionable this season but they got off to a good start with two tries inside 13 minutes as Louis Anderson and Elliot Whitehead crossed with both scores converted by Scott Dureau for 12-0. Widnes responded with two tries of their own before the half hour as Patrick Ah Van and Tom Gilmore crossed with Stefan Marsh converting both to level at 12-12.

Widnes led into the interval as Paddy Flynn sealed a 38th minute try which Marsh improved for 18-12 with the Vikings winger adding a second effort on 52 minutes to extend the lead to 22-12. A penalty and drop goal in the space of three minutes from Gilmore left the Dragons with a 13 point deficit to overturn at 25-12.

The prospect of a comeback ended when Ah Van registered his second try on 72 minutes for 29-12 but the Dragons did have the last say on the outcome with two tries in the last three minutes as Whitehead scored a second before a last minute try from Morgan Escaré which Dureau improved for a 29-22 final score.

Super Salford Stun Rueful Robins

Another huge battle for the Super Eight's took place at the AJ Bell Stadium as the Salford Red Devils hosted Hull Kingston Rovers with Rovers on the fringes of eighth and the Red Devils needing a perfect final three games to avoid the Middle Eight's.

The Robins have been sketchy away from Hull itself but made a good start with an opening try inside four minutes from Tyrone McCarthy with Josh Mantellato converting for 6-0. A tight first period saw just the single score but Salford responded on 20 minutes through Ben Jones-Bishop for 6-4 before two tries in nine minutes from Albert Kelly (Mantellato convs) sent the Robins into the interval leading 18-4.

However, Kelly's brace proved to be the final points of the game for the visitors as the Red Devils staged a stunning comeback in the second half which began with three tries in nine minutes with Josh Griffin and Weller Hauraki (Michael Dobson conv) crossing ahead of a second effort from Jones-Bishop to level at 18-18. 

As the game entered the final seven minutes, the sides remained level but a try from Theo Fages and subsequent conversion from Dobson put the hosts ahead at 24-18 with Dobson adding a drop goal for 25-18. The Robins were unable to respond and were consigned to a defeat with a 79th minute effort from Niall Evalds with a final conversion from Dobson confirming a 31-18 victory.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Super League Round 11/Round 20 Review

A truly unique week for Super League this year and a busy one that has led to my usual review being scrapped for a week as at present it would be out of date with round 21 beginning tomorrow.

The week began with the rearranged double header from round 11 with Tuesday night featuring Hull KR against Salford. The Robins sealing a 34-28 victory that kept up their top eight hopes but at the same time handed a blow to Salford's hopes of avoiding the middle eights.

Wednesday night saw Wakefield host Hull FC and the Wildcats stunned FC with a superb comeback from 16-0 behind to triumph 24-16 and finally end their 16 game losing streak which had dated back to winning the opening two rounds of the year.

Round 20 began on Thursday night and saw a battle between Warrington and Wigan with the Wolves looking to cement a place in the top eight at the expense of the Warriors who were keen to move into joint top spot. Warrington displayed possibly their best performance of the season while the Warriors looked far from the form that got them into the top three in a 17-6 defeat.

Friday night saw a huge clash between table toppers Leeds host closest rival St Helens but the highly anticipated clash was a mixed one with multiple errors from both sides denying the game of any real flow. Despite the high error count, the Rhinos stormed to victory with a 46-18 trouncing of a Saints side still not assured of a top four spot ahead of the eights.

Sunday saw the majority of the round take place with four games out of a possible six on a single day. Huddersfield looked to maintain fourth spot as they hosted top eight hopefuls Hull KR who seemed to be affected by playing three games in 10 days as they slipped to a 32-14 defeat.

Hull FC hosted Wakefield as the sides met for the second time in under six days with the Wildcats hoping to secure a surprise double and though both had made changes, the game was a tight one but with FC gaining revenge for Wednesday's defeat with a 31-24 victory.

Castleford Tigers hosted Widnes Vikings with the Tigers still in the hunt for a top four sport while Widnes continued to fight for a place in the top eight. However it was the Tigers who came out on top as they secured a 34-20 victory.

The final game of the quartet came as Salford hosted Catalans in a rainy game which saw the Red Devils keep up their slim hopes of the top eight and dent the Dragons hopes of a top four spot. A tight game saw the hosts seal an 18-14 win to round of the weekend.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Young Warriors Derby Delight

After back-to-back home wins against Warrington and Leeds, Wigan U19s had sights on a trilogy of triumphs as they welcomed fierce rivals St Helens to Orrell for a top of the table clash on Saturday.

The two sides went into the Academy Derby with equal 14-1 records in the league so far this year but with the Saints ahead at the top thanks to a superior points difference of 13. Wigan's sole league defeat came away to the Saints back in April as they fell to a 44-24 loss while Saints have only been on the losing side against third placed Hull.

Wigan made a superb start as Oliver Gildart opened the scoring with a try inside six minutes which was superbly converted from range by Jake Shorrocks for 6-0. Saints looked to respond but were denied by a strong Warriors defence while the Warriors were unable to add to the opening score.

However, Wigan did score a second try on 25 minutes as Shorrocks crossed after a clever move and went on to convert his own effort for a 12-0 lead which was added to just before the interval as Warriors fullback Gabriel Fell touched down and with Shorrocks completing a trio of conversions in the first half, Wigan led 18-0 into the half-time break.

St Helens stages a rapid comeback with three tries within nine minutes of the restart as Josh Eaves and Callum Wellington crossed the Wigan line either side of an effort from Danny Richardson who converted all three to level the score at 18-18.

Wigan were stunned even further as St Helens took the lead on 56 minutes with their fourth try which came from Dave Ecclestone and with Richardson converting, the Saints had ran in 22 unanswered points to leave the Warriors with a task on their hands.

Back in April in the reverse meeting, Wigan led into the interval before ending up on the reverse of a superb Saints revival that signalled their solitary defeat but this time around, they battled back and were soon level. Oliver Gildart dashed over for his second try but leaving Shorrocks with a tough angle to convert from which he missed at 22-22.

Wigan took the lead for the first time since the interval with a try out on the wing from Jack Higginson and despite the angle, Shorrocks was successful this time around for 28-22. St Helens pushed to draw level but left themselves open in the final five minutes which saw Kyle Shelford score before a superb hat-trick try for Oliver Gildart.

Jake Shorrocks converted the first but saw his second attempt just drift past the post as Wigan sealed a superb 38-22 victory. A win which sends the Warriors two points clear of their rivals at the top of the table ahead of a tough trip to Hull FC next week.