Thursday, 26 May 2016

Super League Magic Weekend Review

The annual Magic Weekend festival came around this week and what a superb weekend it was with day one featured in my Stadium Travels feature while day two saw three superb contests.

Super Salford Vanquish Vikings

Saturday's action began with the clash between Salford Red Devils and Widnes Vikings which was my fourth viewing of the sides meeting at Magic. Salford began with a try from Daniel Vidot inside five minutes before being pegged back by Rhys Hanbury's self-converted try for 4-6. Chris Bridge crossed ahead of a Hanbury pen to open up a 4-12 lead into the break. 

Justin Carney crossed ahead of Vidot's second to put the Red Devils ahead at 16-12 before a late penalty from Gareth O'Brien sealed an 18-12 victory. 

Classy Cas Cull Wolves

Game two saw Warrington Wolves face Castleford Tigers with the Wolves looking to open up a lead at the top of the Super League table. They got their pursuit off to a good start as Stefan Ratchford, Kurt Gidley and Ben Currie ran in tries to open up a 14-0 lead inside half an hour. Luke Dorn and Grant Millington reduced the deficit to 14-12 at the interval.

The Tigers completed the comeback within ten minutes of the restart through Denny Solomona who preceded a try from Mike McMeeken before claiming his second just before the hour mark for a 14-26 lead. The superb spree from the Tigers saw Luke Gale add a penalty before putting the gloss on Dorn's second try to confirm a 14-34 triumph. 

Wonderful Warriors Rout Rhinos

The finale on day one saw Leeds Rhinos face Wigan Warriors with the Rhinos looking to end a four game losing run against the Warriors and end my in doing so end my personal 100% record at Magic itself. 

The Rhinos opened the scoring inside eight minutes through Kallum Watkins for 4-0 before Wigan fought back with a brace from Willie Isa for a 4-12 lead into the interval.

Leeds were cast aside early in the second half as Wigan ran in three tries in the first 14 minutes as George Williams, Dom Manfredi and Ben Flower crossed for a 4-28 lead which was cut by Mitch Achurch for 8-28 before Oliver Gildart and Dan Sarginson scored later on to wrap up a comfortable 8-40 rout for Wigan.

Wildcats Deny Dragons 

The first game of the day saw two sides in great form as Wakefield and Catalans faced off with the Wildcats sealing a superb 25-24 victory late on.

The Dragons stormed into a 14-0 lead with tries from Horo, Broughton and Gigot before a master-class from Ben Jones-Bishop saw him score a superb brace before a try from Sio completed the comeback at 18-14.

The Dragons battled back through Duport and Broughton before a late try from Simon set up a tense finish at 24-24. The moment of the weekend itself came with three minutes left as Miller swept over a superb drop goal for the win.

Giants Glory As Saints Stutter 

Game two saw Huddersfield Giants steal the show as they dominated St Helens with a comfortable 40-28 victory. The Giants raced into a 16-0 lead with tries from McGillvary, Ta'ai, Ellis but Saints stemmed the spree through Dawson.

Hudds ran riot in the second half with McGillvary crossing for his second try ahead efforts from Rapira and Murphy increased the lead to 34-6. Saints remained in the hunt with tries from Owens, Fages and Swift to close at 30-26. But the win was sealed for the Giants as Hinchcliffe and Wood crossed late on.

Fabulous FC Floor Robins

The big city derby between Hull FC and Hull Kingston Rovers certainly lived up to expectation as the sides shared 44 points in a 28-16 victory for FC.

Tries from Fonua and Naughton got the Black and Whites off to a great start before tries from Lunt, Horne and goals from Campese put the Robins ahead at 16-10.
FC stunned their rivals in the Easter derby and staged a similar comeback today as they sealed the win with a second try from Fonua ahead of efforts from Shaul and Minichello.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Super League Round 14 Review

Ahead of the annual festival that is Magic Weekend, Super League round 14 saw a number of surprise results as the season continued its streak of unpredictability.

Classy Cas Crush Lacklustre Leeds

Thursday's round opener saw basement boys Leeds Rhinos host Yorkshire rivals Castleford Tigers at Headingley. The Rhinos made the better start by taking the lead inside five minutes through Mitch Garbutt with Jordan Lilley converting for a 6-0 lead which lasted just four minutes before a Luke Dorn try and Luke Gale conversion levelled the game. Denny Solomona  put the Tigers ahead before a quick double from Dorn increased the lead to 6-24. The Rhinos looked out of the contest before the interval and fell further behind as Joel Monaghan crossed for 6-30.

The Tigers looked to have sealed the win within six minutes of the restart as Solomona struck a second score ahead of a Gadwin Springer effort for a huge 6-40 advantage. Ash Handley stemmed the Tigers spree with a great try on 52 minutes for 12-40 but a Ben Crooks try and a late effort from Grant Millington wrapped up a comfortable 12-52 win for the Tigers who became the first team to put 50 past the Rhinos since 2012. 

Fabulous FC Floor Warriors

Friday's televised game came from the DW Stadium as Wigan Warriors hosted Hull FC as fourth faced third. The visitors started superbly as Marc Sneyd crossed for a try which he improved for 0-6 inside three minutes. Steve Michaels and Scott Taylor increased the lead to 0-16 before Sneyd added a penalty goal for 0-18 in the 25th minute. Wigan fought back with a try from Oliver Gildart but with no conversion, the score was 4-18 into the interval.

John Bateman cut the gap with Matty Smith converting before a try on his second debut for the Warriors from Sam Tomkins narrowed Hull's lead to just two points at 16-18. Tomkins was at fault though as he was bypassed by Jamie Shaul seven minutes later who crossed for 16-24 before a try from Fetuli Talanoa and a penalty goal from Sneyd wrapped up a 16-30 success.  

Saints Stop Salford

Friday night also saw action at Langtree Park as St Helens hosted Salford Red Devils with the Saints looking to move into the top four with a win. They fell behind after just six minutes via a Niall Evalds try but were soon ahead as Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook crossed with Luke Walsh converting for 6-4. Further efforts from Marc Percival and Dominique Peyroux pushed the hosts' advantage to 16-4 before a second score from Evalds meant the sides went into the break at 16-8.

Jonny Lomax pushed the Saints to 22-8 within eight minutes of the restart with Salford hitting back through Justin Carney before Evalds completed his hat-trick for 22-20. However, the two point gap was a as close as it got for the visitors as tries from Theo Fages and Kyle Amor crossed to seal a 34-20 win for the Saints. 

Dragons Deny Giants

Saturday afternoon saw Catalan Dragons host Huddersfield Giants at the Stade Gilbert Brutus with the Dragons having the chance to go level at the top with a win. A cagey first 20-odd minutes saw the sides remain level at 0-0 before a Danny Brough penalty goal and try from Nathan Mason opened up an 0-8 lead for the Giants. Catalan battled back with an effort from Louis Anderson for an 6-8 half-time scoreline. 

Justin Horo put the hosts 10-8 ahead before Tony Gigot extended the lead to 16-8 just before the hour mark. Jake Connor narrowed the gap to 16-14 with a try on 64 minutes but to no avail as the Dragons edged the win. 

Robins Rally Vanquishes Vikings 

Sunday afternoon saw the Hull Kingston Rovers host Widnes Vikings at the KC Lightstream Stadium with both sides looking to boost their recent mixed form. Shaun Lunt opened up an early lead for the Robins in just the fourth minute and the 6-0 scoreline remained into the half-time interval.

Ken Sio crossed to extend the lead just two minutes after the restart before a try from Gil Dudson narrowed the gap to 12-6. James Greenwood restored the 12 point lead for the Robins just after the hour mark but the Vikings remained in the hunt with a Corey Thompson score for 18-10. The win was sealed for the hosts eight minutes from the end as Albert Kelly crossed for a 24-10 victory.

Wildcats Win As Wolves Wander

The final action of the round saw Wakefield Wildcats host league leaders Warrington Wolves at Belle Vue with the Wildcats hoping to secure a surprise victory. They started such a pursuit in stunning style by racing into a 12-0 lead inside six minutes with tries from Craig Hall and Matt Ashurst. Warrington hit back through Joe Westerman before a second try from Hall and one from Tom Johnstone gave the hosts a 24-6 lead at the interval.

Ashurst got his second try within three minutes of the restart for 30-6 before the Wolves mounted a comeback with tries from Daryl Clark, Kurt Gidley and Matty Russell to narrow the deficit to 30-22. Liam Finn kicked a penalty for the Wildcats for 32-22 before a second score from Westerman made it a close game at 32-28 with just ten minutes left. The win was sealed with two minutes left on the clock as Ben Jones-Bishop crossed to seal a famous 36-28 success.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Challenge Cup Sixth Round Review

After an exciting competition so far which has seen some shock results, the Challenge Cup sixth round saw the influx of Super League's top eight sides who would have to be wary of the lower league sides who eyed further scalps.

Dragons Demolish Battling Bulldogs

The round opened on Friday night with televised action at the Fox's Biscuits Stadium, Championship side Batley Bulldogs hosted Super League high-fliers Catalan Dragons hoping to stage a shock win. However, the hosts' hopes were dented early on as Fouad Yaha crossed for the opening try on five minutes with Pat Richards converting for 6-0. Vincent Duport extended the lead on 24 minutes with Richards improving for 12-0, the Bulldogs did very well to keep the score to just 12-0 in a battling first 40 minutes. 

The Dragons took full control of the game as Duport and Richie Myler both crossed within six minutes of the restart with Richards converting just the former for 22-0 before tries from Dave Taylor and Tony Gigot (Richards conv) ahead of the hour pushed the advantage to 34-0. Batley avoided a nilling as Alex Brown crossed to put them on the board at 34-4 but it was to be only a consolation as Gigot claimed his second ten minutes from he end with Richards converting to confirm a 40-4 success.

Giants Glory As Rhinos Run Ends

Friday's non-televised action came from the John Smith's Stadium as Huddersfield Giants hosted fierce rivals and holders Leeds Rhinos for the second time in the space of a week after the Giants secured a win in the league. Leeds made a perfect start with Jimmy Keinhorst crossing in the opening minute with Jordan Lilley converting for 6-0. Ukuma Ta'ai and Jermaine McGillvary crossed for the hosts to turn the game around with Danny Brough converting both for 12-6. Ryan Brierley (Brough conv) extended the lead just before half-time before a Jake Connor drop goal made it 19-6 into the interval.

Liam Sutcliffe (Lilley conv) crossed to cut the gap for Leeds for 19-12 but Kyle Wood (Brough conv) pushed the score to 25-12 before a second effort from Keinhorst kept Leeds in the hunt at 25-16 before the game became 'The Brough Show' as the Giants captain scored a penalty goal, self-converted try and two drop goals in a 16 minute period to make it 35-16. Anthony Mullally (Lilley conv) cut the gap for the Rhinos before Brough swept over a third drop goal to wrap up a 36-22 victory

Classy Cas Stop Salford

Saturday's televised action came from the Mend-A-Hose Jungle as Castleford Tigers hosted Salford Red Devils. The visitors opened the scoring through Junior Sau inside nine minutes with Gareth O'Brien converting for 0-6 before Mike McMeeken replied for the hosts with Paul McShane converting for 6-6. Sau crossed for a second time just before the half hour mark with O'Brien kicking for 6-12 but a tries from Jake Webster and McMeeken saw McShane convert for an 18-12 half-time advantage. 

Denny Solomona increased the lead within a minute of the restart before Robert Lui (O'Brien conv) kept the visitors in the hunt at 22-18. McShane crossed for a a try of his own which he converted for 28-18 before Solomona sealed the win with his second try for a 32-18 final score. 

Wonderful Wolves Rout Roughyeds

Saturday's other action saw Championship side Oldham Roughyeds host Super League leaders Warrington Wolves. The hosts made a great start to a potential shock win as Michael Ward crossed inside seven minutes with Lewis Palfrey converting for 6-0 before Chris Hill replied for the visitors with Kurt Gidley converting for 6-6. Warrington took control with tries from Ben Jullien, Ben Currie and Rhys Evans in the last ten minutes of the first half with Gidley converting twice for a 6-22 lead at the interval.

George King posted a six minute hat-trick ahead of an effort from Tom Lineham within ten minutes of the restart with Gidley converting twice for a huge 6-42 lead. The hosts were out of the contest just after the hour mark as Gene Ormsby crossed either side of a second score from Currie with extras from Stefan Ratchford and Gidley for 6-58. A debut try from Morgan Smith and a second from Jullien saw Ratchford convert for 6-70. Oldham did have the last say as Gareth Owen crossed for 10-70.

Wondrous Wigan Down Dewsbury

Sunday afternoon saw Stadium Travels visit The Tetley's Stadium as Championship side Dewsbury Rams hosted Wigan Warriors hoping to avenge their heavy defeat from two seasons ago. The Warriors raced into a 12-0 lead inside ten minutes as Josh Charnley crossed either side of a try from George Williams. Oliver Gildart and Dan Sarginson (Charnley convs) extended the lead to 0-24 before Paul Sykes got the Rams on the board at 4-24. A brace from John Bateman (Charnley convs ) set up a strong 4-36 lead at the interval.

Wigan resumed their control on the game with two scores in the first four minutes of the second half as Ryan Sutton crossed ahead of a second from Gildart with Charnley's conversions making it 4-48. Lewis Tierney got in on the act on 54 minutes but with Charnley's conversion making it 4-54, Dewsbury did well to prevent any further scores as they ended the game losing just 0-18 in the second half. 

Valiant Vikings Hold Off Halifax

The second of Sunday's Championship v Super League battles came from The Shay as Halifax hosted Widnes Vikings with the hosts hoping to better last season's narrow loss in the Middle 8s. Widnes struck first as Aaron Heremaia crossed inside four minutes with Hanbury converting for 0-6 before James Saltonstall replied with Steve Tyrer converting for 6-6. Lloyd Whire and Chris Houston's efforts put the visitors in control with Hanbury kicking both for 6-18 ahead of a late first half effort from Adam Robinson which Tyrer converted for 12-18.

The hosts drew level within six minutes of the restart as Miles Greenwood crossed with Tyrer converting for 18-18. Charly Runciman regained the lead for the Vikings at 18-22 before a late try from James Chapelhow saw Hanbury seal an 18-28 win with the resulting conversion.

Wildcats Win As Toulouse Tumble

The only non Championship/Super League meeting of the round saw Wakefield Wildcats hosting League One side Toulouse. The Wildcats stormed into a 22-0 lead inside the first 15 minutes with a brace from Tom Johnstone sandwiching efforts from Jacob Miller and Craig Hall with Liam Finn converting all but the opening try. The visitors got on the board on 27 minutes as Gavin Marguerite crossed for 22-4 ahead on an effort from Murrad Kriouache which was converted by Mark Kheierallah for 22-10.

Matt Ashurst crossed for the first try of the second half with Finn converting for 28-10 before a double from the French side in the space of five minutes kept them in the contest. Declan Hulme and Kuni Minga crossed with Kheirallah converting both for 28-22 with 12 minutes left. However, the Wildcats survived the comeback and sealed a place in the last eight with two further scores from Johnstone which Finn converted for a 40-22 triumph.

Fabulous FC Smash Saints

The final action of the round was the televised tie at Langtree Park between St Helens and Hull FC. The hosts struck first with a try from Marc Percival which Luke Walsh converted for 6-6 ahead of a reply from Danny Houghton with Marc Sneyd converting for 6-6. Tries from Scott Taylor and Gareth Ellis (Sneyd convs) saw the visitors take a 6-18 lead before Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook (Walsh conv) replied for Saints at 12-18. Hull ensured a three score lead at the interval as Jamie Shaul crossed with Sneyd converting before sweeping over a drop goal for 12-25.

A self-converted try from Walsh within five minutes of the restart made it 18-25 but from there, Hull took full control as Curtis Naughton and Kirk Yeaman crossed either side of a Sneyd penalty for 18-37. The win was wrapped up by two tries in the final ten minutes as Taylor claimed his second ahead of an effort from Fetuli Talanoa with Sneyd converting just the former in a huge 18-47 rout.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Super League Round 13 Review

The midway point of the regular season passed with this week's action marking round 13 of Super League with the six games including first against third and fourth against second with a Yorkshire derby at the bottom of the standings.

Wonderful Wolves Waste Weakened Warriors

The round opened at the Halliwell Jones Stadium which I attended for Stadium Travels as Warrington Wolves hosted Wigan Warriors with the hosts looking to open up a two point gap at the top by doubling the Warriors. Wigan struck the opening try with Josh Charnley crossing in the 17th minute for 4-0 but from there it was to be a master-class from the Wolves with Daryl Clark, Ben Westwood and Kevin Penny all crossing before half-time with Kurt Gidley converting the lot for an 18-4 lead. 

A brace from Ryan Atkins (Gidley convs) saw the lead extended to 28-4 before the hour mark leaving Wigan with a huge task to avoid a heavy defeat never mind trying to mount a comeback but any hopes were quickly erased as Benjamin Jullien crossed and Gidley converted for 34-4. John Bateman went over for Wigan to end the Wolves' spree with Matty Smith pushing the Warriors to 34-10 but the last say went to the hosts as Westwood struck a second try with Stefan Ratchford converting for a 40-10 triumph. 

Giants Glory As Leeds Lose

Friday's televised action saw a Yorkshire derby at the bottom of the table as Huddersfield Giants hosted neighbours Leeds Rhinos looking to move off the bottom with a win. The Giants made the first mark on the game as Ukuma Ta'ai crossed to make it 4-0 inside four minutes before a self-converted try from Jordan Lilley made it 6-4 to the Rhinos before Lilley added a penalty goal to set up an 8-4 lead at half-time. 

Gene Ormsby marked his final game on loan with a try on 44 minutes which Danny Brough converted for 10-8 before Josh Walters opened his account for the season with Lilley converting for 14-10. Jermaine McGillvary and Rob Burrow exchanges tries with Brough and Lilley converting for 20-16 to the Rhinos but the Giants were not to be outdone as Jake Connor (Brough conv) crossed for 22-20 before a last-gasp effort from Eorl Crabtree saw Brough convert to confirm a 28-20 success. 

Hull FC Hold On To Deny Dragons

The second top four battle of the round saw Hull FC host Catalan Dragons at the KCOM Stadium with the Dragons looking to secure an eighth consecutive win. Their hopes were dented in the first ten minutes as FC opened up a 12-0 lead with tries from Fetuli Talanoa and Curtis Naughton with Marc Sneyd converting both. Louis Anderson replied for the Dragons with Pat Richards converting for 12-6 before Sika Manu crossed and Sneyd converted before adding a penalty for 22-4. 

Richards crossed twice but was unable to convert as the hosts' lead was cut to 20-14 at the interval but a Scott Taylor try (Sneyd conv) pushed the lead to 26-14 before Jason Baitieri crossed with Richards converting for 26-20. Sneyd converted another penalty for 28-20 but the game was far from settled as Eloi Pelissier crossed with eight minutes left with Richards' conversion making it 28-26 but FC were able to hold on and thereby end the Dragons' winning streak. 

Vikings Vanquished As Wildcats Win

Friday's trio of games ended with Widnes Vikings hosting Wakefield Wildcats at the Select Security Stadium with both looking to move up the table with a win. A tight first half was more dominated by cards than points with Scott Moore and Aaron Heremaia sent off but the Wildcats did get off the mark on 35 minutes as Anthony Tupou crossed with Liam Finn converting for 6-0 before Finn added a penalty goal for an 8-0 half-time lead. 

Charly Runciman got Widnes on the board withing four minutes of the restart for 8-4 before Finn added another penalty for 10-4 but Widnes hit back again as Eamon O'Carroll scored with Rhys Hanbury converting to level at 10-10. Finn added another penalty to put the visitors 12-10 ahead before a self converted try from Hanbury saw Widnes lead for  the first time at 16-12 but the Wildcats were not to be denied as Craig Hall crossed two minutes from the end with Finn converting to seal an 18-16 win. 

Super Salford Rout Robins

Saturday afternoon saw Salford Red Devils hosting Hull Kingston Rovers with the hosts looking to bounce back from their points deduction earlier in the week which saw them lose six points for a salary cap breach. Junior Sau and Robert Lui got the hosts off to a superb start with Michael Dobson converting the latter for a 10-0 lead. Niall Evalds (Gareth O'Brien conv) extended the lead to 16-0 before a try from Maurice Blair saw Ken Sio convert for 16-6. 

Josh Griffin (Dobson conv) and Josh Jones (O'Brien conv) crossed to give the hosts a 28-6 lead at the interval which was dented on 48 minutes by Iain Thornley's effort which Sio converted for 28-12 before Sau's second made it 32-12. Sio crossed for the Robins with Blair converting for 32-18 before a Thomas Minns brace sandwiched Sau sealing his hat-trick with O'Brien converting for 38-26. The result was sealed as Lui claimed his second try with O'Brien confirming a 44-26 triumph. 

Tigers Toil As Saints Succeed

The final game of the round came on Sunday as Castleford Tigers hosted St Helens at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle with both sides looking to move up the table. The Tigers opened the scoring on 11 minutes as Joel Monaghan touched down with Luke Gale converting for a 6-0 lead which was cancelled out just six minutes later by Joe Greenwood's try and Luke Walsh's conversion for 6-6. 

Denny Solomona pushed the hosts into a 10-6 lead with a 27th minute try with Shannon McDonnell (Walsh conv) crossing just three minutes after half-time for 12-10 before Mike McMeeken (Gale conv) restored the lead for Cas at 16-12. Jy Hitchcox extended the lead to 20-12 on 51 minutes but from there, the Tigers were hit by a Saints comeback as Kyle Amor crossed before Greenwood scored his second and Jonny Lomax crossed late on with Walsh converting the lot for a 30-20 win.