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.