Sunday, 26 June 2016

Challenge Cup Quarter Final Review

A Semi For Wakefield After Fifita Brace

The first spot in the Challenge Cup semi final draw belongs to the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats after they claimed a 28-16 win against Huddersfield Giants at the John Smith's Stadium on Thursday night.

The Wildcats made a near perfect start as David Fifita opened his account inside three minutes before two penalty goals from Liam Finn sandwiched a stunning diving try from Ben Jones-Bishop as the visitors opened up a 14-0 lead. Huddersfield fought back with efforts from Simon Grix and Jake Connor to make it 14-8 into half-time.

However, Wakefield resumed their control on the scoreboard as Tom Johnstone dashed clear to score before Fifita crossed for his second try for a 26-8 lead before the hour mark. Jermaine McGillvary kept the Giants in the hunt before a Finn penalty left the gap at 16 with 12 minutes to go. McGillvary claimed his second try two minutes from the end but it was sheer consolation as the Wildcats put themselves just one win away from a trip to Wembley in August. 

Gidley Stars As Wolves Edge Vikings 

Warrington Wolves joined Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in Saturday'sChallenge Cup semi final draw after a tense 20-18 derby victory at home to Widnes Vikings.

The Wolves flew out of the blocks with Jack Hughes putting them 4-0 ahead within four minutes before both sides' attacks were blocked by good defence. Widnes fought back with two rapid tries as Joe Mellor and Matt Whitley crossed to give them a 6-12 lead. Kevin Penny closed the gap for the Wolves to make it 10-12 ahead of half-time.

A penalty goal from Kurt Gidley followed by a try from Brad Dwyer saw the Wolves move into an 18-12 advantage but a stellar move from the Vikings saw Charly Runicman cross with Hanbury levelling at 18-18 with the boot. The game looked to be too close to call as the final ten minutes ticked down but a foolish drop from offside on the ball from Hep Cahill gave Warrington a perfect position to score from and Gidley did just that as he swept over the penalty to seal a 20-18 win. 

Fabulous FC Deny Dragons

Hull FC kept up their hopes of securing a double this season as they claimed a place in the Challenge Cup semi finals with a 22-8 win over Catalan Dragons. The Dragons struck first with a try on his second debut from Benjamin Garcia for 0-4 before tries from Steve Michaels and Frank Pritchard gave them a 12-4 advantage into half-time.  

Danny Houghton extended the lead just ten minutes after the restart with Marc Sneyd kicking for 18-4 but Catalan remained in the hunt as Fouad Yaha finished off a clever move from the Dragons for 18-8 but Pat Richards' kicking was sadly not up to scratch as he misses his second attempt of the game.

Sneyd's kicking on the other hand was top notch as he kicked two penalty goals, the second from just over the halfway line to push the lead to 22-8, Catalans rallied late on to cut the gap but in vain as FC celebrated a comfortable win ahead of this evening's draw for the last four.  

Tomkins Stars As Warriors Defeat Dragons

Wigan Warriors claimed the final Challenge Cup semi final spot with a 26-12 win against Castleford Tigers at the DW Stadium. The Warriors who will face Hull FC in the last four made a great start with Dan Sarginson crossing for a 4-0 lead inside six minutes before a clever try from Sam Tomkins made it 12-0. Josh Charnley ran in a five minute brace as the Warriors went into the half-time interval with a huge 22-0 advantage.

Luke Gale got the Tigers off the mark with a try on the hour which he converted for 22-6 but it was followed by one of the most controversial tries of the season as Dom Manfredi was adjudged to have touched down after Luke Dorn's failure to collect the ball. The video replay showed that the Wigan winger had barely touched the ball to the anger of the huge following from the Tigers but at 26-6, Wigan looked safe.

The final say on the score came in the final minute as Ben Crooks crossed with Gale converting for a 26-12 final score which sees the Warriors advance to their first semi final since 2013 where they will face the side that they beat at Wembley that very year.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Super League Round 19 Review

Wigan Warriors moved level on points at the top of Super League after securing a narrow 7-0 win away to eighth placed Widnes Vikings.

The build-up to the game saw a minor electrical fire in the Wigan end which fired them up and proved to be the only negative for the Warriors across the night. The first half was extremely tight with a mix of good defence and errors from both sides keeping them level at 0-0 alongside a number of turned down tries via the video referee.

Wigan broke the deadlock within eight minutes of the restart with Josh Charnley and Matty Smith converted for 0-6. Smith added a drop goal to make it 0-7 just before the hour mark but alike recent games, Wigan's attack was not something to be admired while their superb defence managed to keep the Vikings out and secure a first nilling of the season for the Warriors.

Warrington claimed a narrow 20-18 against top four rivals Catalan Dragons at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on a packed evening in Super League.

The Dragons took the lead with an early penalty from Pat Richards before Ryan Atkins and Kevin Penny struck either side of an effort from the Dragons' Julian Bousquet for a 10-8 lead. Fouad Yaha  crossed for the visitors ahead of Richards adding a penalty for a 10-16 half-time lead.

Brad Dwyer closed the gap for the Wolves just two minutes after the restart before Richards and Gidley exchanged penalties for 18-18 with 12 minutes left. Gidley added another penalty for 20-18 which proved to be enough to seal a valuable win.

St Helens completed a superb comeback as they raced to a 48-16 triumph against Hull Kingston Rovers at Langtree Park.

The Robins stormed into a 0-12 lead with tries from Shaun Lunt and Chris Clarkson ahead of a Kieran Dixon penalty. However, an Adam Swift brace levelled at 12-12 before the interval.

Swift went in again twice more either side of an effort for Shannon McDonnell to make it 24-12 before Thomas Minns stemmed he spree at 24-16.

Saints wrapped up a superb turnaround with tries from Marc Percival , Louie McCarthy- Scarsbrook, Dominque Peyroux and Alex Walmsley who completed the 48-16 rout.

Leeds claimed back-to-back wins as they dismantled Wakefield in a 32-6 rout at Belle Vue.

The Rhinos raced into a 0-6 lead inside three minutes with Mitch Achurch crossing before Liam Sutcliffe added a penalty for 0-8. Wakefield hit back through former Rhinos back Ben Jones Bishop before another Sutcliffe penalty and try from Brad Singleton set up a 6-16 advantage at the interval.

The Rhinos extended their lead further with Singleton crossing for a second time before two penalties and a converted try from Sutcliffe to seal a 6-32 triumph.

Huddersfield began life without Paul Anderson with a 31-30 win against Salford at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Salford struck first through Craig Kopczak before tries from Jake Connor, Ukuma Ta'ai and Leroy Cudjoe gave the Giants a 6-16 lead. Daniel Vidot cut the gap to 12-16 at the interval.

Josh Jones crossed for the hosts before Eorl Crabtree and Joe Wardle put the Giants at 18-30 and Danny Brough extended the lead to 18-31 with a drop goal.

However, Salford were not finished yet as Jones and Vidot sealed braces to make it 30-31 but in
vain as the Giants held on for the win.

The round came to an end on Sunday as Castleford Tigers hosted league leaders Hull FC at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.

The Tigers took an early 8-0 lead with tries from Luke Dorn and Jake Webster before being pegged back by Frank Pritchard and Danny Houghton for 8-12. Mahe Fonua extended the visitors' lead to 8-18 just before half-time. 

Cas fought back with efforts from Paddy Flynn and Denny Solomona to level at 18-18 but Jamie Shaul regained the lead for FC at 18-24. The Tigers had the chance to draw level with just eight minutes to go as Solomona claimed his second try but a failed conversion left them ruing a 22-24 defeat.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Super League Round 18 Review

Valiant Vikings Deny Tigers

Widnes Vikings took a huge step towards sealing a place in top eight as they held off a late fightback from a rallying Castleford Tigers at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle on Thursday night.

The Vikings started superbly as Magraff Leuluai celebrated his new two-year deal with the opening try before Patrick Ah Van extended the lead to 0-10. Cas hit back as Paddy Flynn struck against his parent club for 6-10 before Chris Bridge gave the visitors a 6-14 advantage at half-time.

Flynn was in for his second just eight minutes after the restart but a second from Ah Van followed by a seven minute double from Lloyd White and a Joe Mellor effort from the kick-off put the Vikings in firm control at 12-38. However, Cas were not to go down without a fight as tries from Larne Patrick and Luke Gale cut the gap to 22-38 before Flynn completed his hat-trick for 28-38 but to no avail as the Vikings held on for the win.

Wolves Fall To FC

Friday's televised action came from the Halliwell Jones Stadium as Warrington Wolves hosted leaders Hull FC in a huge top of the table clash. The Wolves took just four minutes to strike as Gene Ormsby crossed for 4-0 before Fetuli Talanoa levelled with Marc Sneyd kicking for 4-6. Chris Sandow put the hosts to 10-6 before a Mark Minichello effort gave FC a 10-12 half-time lead.

Gidley kicked to level at 12-12 but in vain as Gareth Ellis made it 12-18 before a late drop goal from Sneyd sealed a 12-19 win that put FC clear at the Super League summit. 

Rhinos Edge Red Devils 

Friday also saw a battle at the wrong end of the table as bottom side Leeds Rhinos hosted Salford Red Devils at Headingley. 

The Rhinos made an early mark on the game as Luke Briscoe opened his 2016 account for 4-0 inside six minutes. The weather conditions meant the game was to be a tight one as neither side was able to post points for the rest of the first half.

Leeds extended their narrow lead with a Liam Sutcliffe penalty seven minutes before the hour mark before he added a second penalty in the final minute to wrap up a slim 8-0 victory. 

Robins Rue As Warriors Win

The game I attended was at the KC Lightstream Stadium as Hull Kingston Rovers hosted Wigan Warriors. The Warriors struck early as Dom Manfredi crossed for a brace inside 14 minutes for 0-8. Albert Kelly replied for the Robins for an 6-8 scoreline at half-time. 

The Robins continued their scoring streak with efforts from Thomas Minns and Mitch Allgood which put them into an 18-8 lead before Anthony Gelling signalled his comeback from injury with a try for 18-14 with 11 minutes to go. Wigan completed the comeback to seal a late win as Sam Tomkins crossed on 78 minutes with Smith kicking to claim an 18-20 triumph. 

Dragons Delight Against Saints 

Catalan Dragons regained second spot after a comfortable 33-16 win over fifth placed St Helens on Saturday.

The Dragons started superbly as Pat Richards kicked a first minute penalty before Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook put the Saints 2-6 ahead. Fouad Yaha and Lucas Albert put the Dragons back in control at 12-6 before a late drop goal gave them a 13-6 half-time lead.

Adam Swift crossed for the Saints but a Jodie Broughton double fired the Dragons to 27-10 with 20 to go. Thomas Bosc took over the kicking with Richards having a horror show and he kicked a penalty before converting a Tony Gigot effort for 33-10. The visitors had the last say on the contest as Shannon McDonnell crossed but it was in vain at 33-16. 

Giants Gutted As Wildcats Win

The round came to an end on Sunday at the John Smith's Stadium as Huddersfield Giants hosted Wakefield Wildcats. The game was a tight one in the first quarter with the score remaining blank until Liam Finn kicked a penalty for 0-2, a lead which remained into the half-time break. 

Danny Brough drew the Giants level at 2-2 with a 51st minute penalty but just three minutes later Finn added his second penalty for a 2-4 advantage. The game was won with 11 minutes to go as Danny Kirmond crossed for the afternoon's sole try with Finn kicking for a 2-10 final score. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Super League Round 17 Review

Round 17 saw the shortest weekend of the regular season with all six games played over just two days. The games also saw some fairly close contests while one game turned out to be a complete mismatch.

Rampant Robins Wipe-out Wildcats

Thursday night saw the action begin at Belle Vue as Wakefield Trinity Wildcats hosted Hull Kingston Rovers.A stunning start from the Robins saw Kieran Dixon, Albert Kelly, James Greenwood and Shaun Lunt all cross for a 0-20 lead inside 20 minutes. Bill Tupou crossed to get the hosts on the board before James Green made it 4-26 to the Robins with Mikey Sio closing the gap to 10-26 at the interval.

Craig Hall improved the hosts' chances within six minutes of the restart before a double from Dixon sealed his hat-trick with Greenwood and Kelly claiming their second tries for a huge 16-48 lead. The gloss on the win came as Maurice Blair crossed late on for 16-54.

Warriors Deny Devils

Friday saw a quarter of games so I'll start with the game I attended the AJ Bell Stadium as Salford Red Devils hosted Wigan Warriors. Wigan struck first through Josh Charnley before a brace from Michael Dobson put the hosts 10-4 ahead. Ryan Sutton crossed to level before a last-gasp drop goal from Matty Smith made it 10-11 at the interval. 

Charnley completed his hat-trick either side of a Smith penalty for a 10-23 advantage but Salford remained in the hunt as Josh Jones crossed before a late score from Daniel Vidot set up a frantic finish as the Warriors just about held on for a 20-23 win.  

Sorry Saints As Wolves Win

The televised action came from Langtree Park as St Helens hosted Warrington Wolves with the hosts keen to slice the gap to the top four.

The Wolves started superbly as Ben Currie scored inside six minutes before further tries from Chris Sandow and Ryan Atkins saw the visitors lead 0-16 at the interval. 

Stefan Ratchford and Rhys Evans extended the lead further for 0-26 before Saints avoided a potential nilling late on as Jonny Lomax crossed for a 4-26 final score. 

Fabulous FC Vanquish Vikings 

The game from the KCOM Stadium saw current leaders Hull FC host Widnes Vikings with the hosts having the chance to open up a gap at the SL summit.

However, it was the Vikings who struck first through Rhys Hanbury for 0-4 before Carlos Tuimavave gave the hosts a 6-4 lead which they kept into the interval. 

Kirk Yeaman and Josh Bowden extended the lead for FC before scores from Danny Houghton and Jamie Shaul made sure of the win at 30-4. Widnes had the last say on the scoreline itself as Chris Dean crossed for a 30-10 final score. 

Hudds Halted By Classy Cas

Huddersfield Giants hosted Castleford Tigers at the John Smith's Stadium in a Yorkshire derby that the Giants needed to win to boost any hopes of a top eight finish. 

The Tigers struck first through Denny Solomona before Jamie Ellis levelled at 6-6. Jake Webster and Luke Gale put the Tigers in control at 6-16 before Leroy Cudjoe cut the gap to 10-16 ahead of the interval. 

Solomona and Webster claimed their second tries for 10-30 with Ryan Brierley and Jake Connor cut the gap late on but to no avail in a 22-30 defeat. 

Dragons Delight Against Rueful Rhinos

The final game of the round came from Headingley Stadium as bottom side Leeds Rhinos hosted Catalans Dragons. 

The Rhinos struck first through Brett Ferres before Justin Horo levelled at 6-6. Fouad Yaha and Jason Baitieri extended the lead to 6-16 at the interval.

Todd Carney added a penalty for 6-18 before Josh Walters kept the Rhinos in the hunt at 12-18. The win was sealed late on as Eloi Pelissier sealed a 12-24 success.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Super League Round 16 Review

After a superb Magic Weekend in Newcastle, Super League action returned to the norm with round 16 but just like the rest of this strange season, there were some surprise results.

Tigers Troubled By Winning Warriors

The round opened on Thursday night as Stadium Travels visited the Mend-A-Hose Jungle as Castleford Tigers hosted Wigan Warriors. A bright start from both sides saw Josh Charnley put Wigan ahead before a Paul McShane try levelled at 6-6. After a penalty from Luke Gale, the sides exchanged tries again as Sam Tomkins and Denny Solomona crossed before a Matty Smith penalty made it 12-14 at the interval.

Wigan took control with an effort from Dom Manfredi and Charnley's second coupled with Smith's perfect kicking for 14-28. Jake Webster cut the gap before the match looked to be sealed with Sam Powell's try on 69 minutes. Solomona struck his second but in vain as a late Smith drop goal confirmed a 26-33 final score. 

Wondrous Wolves Rout Rhinos

Friday's televised action came from the Halliwell Jones Stadium as Warrington Wolves hosted Leeds Rhinos in a clash between sides at either ends of the table. The Rhinos flew out of the blocks with Jimmy Keinhorst opening the scoring but efforts from Gene Ormsby, Tom Lineham and Brad Dwyer put the Wolves in control at 18-6 on the half hour. Brett Ferres crossed to make it 18-12 ahead of half-time. 

Warrington took control with Ryan Atkins, Stefan Ratchford and Kurt Gidley crossing ahead of the hour mark coupled with a second score from Ormsby as they opened up a 40-12 advantage. Daryl Clark extended the lead before a second try from Ferres pushed the Rhinos to 46-18 but Clark added the gloss on a huge win with his second try late on to wrap up a massive 52-18 rout. 

Superb Salford Stun Tumbling Trinity

Friday's other action came from the AJ Bell Stadium as Salford Red Devils hosted Wakefield Trinity who have recently ditched the 'Wildcats' tag. Salford struck an early opening through Niall Evalds for 4-0 before Anthony Tupou levelled for the Wildcats just before the half hour mark. The hosts went into the interval ahead via a Ryan Lannon try for 10-4.

They extended their lead with an effort from Mark Flanagan before a second score from Lannon and tries from Robert Lui and George Griffin put them in control at 34-4. The visitors stemmed the spree with a try from Ben Jones-Bishop but it was in vain as Junior Sa'u completed a 38-8 rout late on. 

Fabulous FC Stop Saints

Hull FC hosted St Helens at the KCOM Stadium on Steve Prescott Day as the sides battled for the hallowed cup named after the former Saints and Hull FC legend. The hosts claimed the award with a 32-24 victory over the Saints which saw them race into a 12-0 lead after tries from Gareth Ellis and Mahe Fonua.

St Helens hit back superbly as Adam Swift, Jonny Lomax and Atelea Vea all crossed to put them 12-18 ahead just before the break with Marc Sneyd cutting the gap to 14-18 with a late penalty goal. FC took control in the second half as Carlos Tuimavave and Scott Taylor scored to open up a 26-18 advantage. Jack Ashworth kept the Saints in the hunt at 26-24 but the deciding say went to Danny Washbrook who opened his account for the season to seal the win three minutes from the end.

Dragons Deny Rallying Robins

Catalan Dragons regained third spot in the Super League table after securing a comfortable 34-16 win over Hull Kingston Rovers. The Dragons raced into a 16-0 lead with tries from Jodie Broughton, Todd Carney and a first senior effort from Lucas Albert before former Dragons forward Kevin Larroyer crossed to cut the gap to 16-6.  Louis Anderson and Tony Gigot both scored before the half-time break with Pat Richards adding a late penalty goal to open up a 28-6 lead at the interval.

After playing for England Academy last night, Joe Wardill's weekend got even better as he crossed for a try to make it 28-19 just after the hour mark. However, the Dragons wrapped up the win with a try from Justin Horo whose 68th minute effort made it 34-10 but wasn't the last say on the game as Ken Sio ran in a late effort to sent the travelling Robins home with more than just sheer consolation. 

Vikings Vanquish Giants

Sunday saw the round come to a close at the Select Security Stadium as Widnes Vikings hosted Huddersfield Giants. The Giants raced into a 16-0 lead with efforts from Nathan Mason, Danny Brough and Joe Wardle. 

Corey Thompson and Joe Mellor both scored braces as the Vikings staged a superb comeback which also saw a try from Stefan Marsh as they opened up a 24-16 lead.

Jermaine McGillvary kept the Giants in the hunt at 24-20 but the Vikings just about held on to secure a win and end their barren spell.