Thursday, 23 February 2017

Super League Round 11 Pt 1/ World Club Series Review

A slight break in Super League action with only last season's bottom three and newly promoted Leigh Centurions playing with their Round 11 games brought forward due their entry into the Challenge Cup at that time. The weekend saw a World Club Series game ahead of the World Club Challenge.

Thursday night saw Huddersfield Giants hosting Salford Red Devils at the John Smith's Stadium. The visitors opened the scoring with a penalty goal from Gareth O'Brien inside eight minutes before Jermaine McGillvary responded for 4-2.

Junior Sa'u crossed for the visitors' first try with O'Brien converting ahead of adding a penalty goal for 4-10 into half-time. A rapid restart saw O'Brien cross and convert before a brace from Alex Mellor (Brough conv) cut the gap to 14-16.

A second converted try from O'Brien followed before Ukuma Ta'a crosssed with Danny Brough converting for 20-22. Salford sealed the points with a try from Josh Jones ahead of O'Brien converting and adding a penalty goal for a personal haul of 22 points in the 20-30 victory.

Friday night saw newly promoted Leigh Centurions play their first Super League game at Leigh Sports Village as they welcomed Leeds Rhinos.

A superb start for Leigh saw Matty Dawson cross for the opening try on five minutes before Mitch Brown increased the lead to 8-0. Leeds battled back with two rapid scores as Adam Cuthbertson and Ryan Hall crossed with Liam Sutcliffe converting the former for 8-10.

The Rhinos went into half-time 8-15 ahead with Jimmy Keinhorst crossing for a try followed by a long range drop goal from Sutcliffe.

Sutcliffe made it 8-17 with a penalty goal on the hour mark but Leigh forced a tight finish with a Ben Crooks effort converted by Ben Renyolds for a 14-17 final score.

Saturday evening saw Warrington Wolves host NRL side Brisbane Broncos at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, The Wolves raced out of the blocks with Kevin Brown crossing for a try inside two minutes, Declan Patton converted before adding a penalty goal for 8-0.

Ryan Atkins and Matty Russell extended the lead with Patton converting for 20-0. Brisbane got off the mark with a try from Corey Oates, Jordan Kahu converting for 20-6 but Warrington ended the half on top with an effort from Tom Lineham (24-6).

The Broncos cut the gap within four minutes of the restart through James Roberts (Kahu conv) before Patton kicked a drop goal and penalty goal for 27-12. The final say went to the Broncos as David Mead crossed with Kahu converting for 27-18 but it was not enough to deny the Wolves from putting Super League 1-0 up in the series.

The final game of the weekend saw Super League champions Wigan Warriors host NRL premiers Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at the DW Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Wigan flew out of the blocks with an opening try inside four minutes from Joe Burgess who went in for his second on 23 minutes, Morgan Escare converting for 10-0. 

Oliver Gildart extended the lead five minutes after half-time (Escare conv) before the Sharks got off the mark with an effort from Jesse Ramien which James Maloney converted for 16-6. 

The final say went to Burgess who completed his hat-trick two minutes from the end with Escare converting for a 22-6 success. The final hooter sounded to joy from the home crowd as the Warriors celebrated claiming a fourth World Club Challenge triumph and in doing so completed a 2-0 series win for Super League.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Super League Round One Review

It seems like an age since the final hooter went at Old Trafford in October leading to a positive and long-awaited celebration of Wigan securing the title. This weekend saw the opening round of the 2017 season as they began the defence of their title with Warrington aiming to go one better than their Grand Final loss to the Warriors.

The season opener came from the newly named Totally Wicked Stadium as St Helens hosted Leeds Rhinos.

Both sides look to make a great start after mixed campaigns in 2016 and it was the Rhinos who made the first mark as Joel Moon scored the opening score of 2017 in the 20th minute for 0-4. Saints drew level three minutes after half-time through Theo Fages' effort with Mark Percival converting for 6-4 which proved to be enough to secure the win.

Friday's non-televised action came from the Select Security Stadium as Widnes Vikings hosted Huddersfield Giants. 

Charly Runciman went in for the opening try inside just four minutes with Rhys Hanbury converting for 6-0. Huddersfield battled back with tries from Jermaine McGillvary and Lee Gaskell with Danny Brough converting once for 6-10. 

A second for McGillvary was followed by an effort from Tom Symonds with a Brough conversion sending the Giants into the interval leading 6-20. They extended their lead through Aaron Murphy before tries from Stefan Marsh and Rhys Hanbury cut the gap to 16-24. Leroy Cudjoe confirmed a 16-28 win for the Giants with a try three minutes from the end.

Castleford Tigers hosted newly promoted Leigh Centurions live on Sky Sports on Friday at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.

The Centurions held their own for the opening quarter or so before the Tigers took control with Luke Gale and Jesse Sene-Lefao crossing for tries which Gale converted for 12-0. A brace from Greg Minikin either side of a penalty from Gale saw the hosts boast a huge 26-0 lead at the interval.

Junior Moors crossed to bring up the 30 point mark before Ryan Hampshire scored Leigh's first SL try since 2005 for 32-4. Gale claimed his second try ahead of an effort from Greg Eden for 44-4. Leigh had a late rally with Matty Dawson crossing ahead of a 100th career score for Danny Tickle as the match ended 44-16.

Saturday's televised game saw Catalans Dragons host Warrington Wolves at Stade Gilbert Brutus.

The Wolves struck an early opening score with Andre Savelio touching down inside nine minutes with Declan Patton converting for 0-6. 

Former Wolves back Richie Myler crossed for the hosts with Luke Walsh levelling just before half-time with a penalty goal. 

Greg Bird marked his second debut for the Dragons with a try on 48 minutes with Walsh converting before adding a penalty for 14-6 with 70 minutes played. A try from Rhys Evans (Patton conv) set up a tight finish at 14-12 but the game was sealed in the final minute as Brayden Wiliame crossed with Walsh converting for 20-12. 

The game I attended was at the AJ Bell Stadium as Salford Red Devils hosted champions Wigan Warriors.

Wigan raced into a 10-0 lead inside 13 minutes with tries from Oliver Gildart and Joe Burgess with Morgan EscarĂ© converting the latter. Gildart struck again before efforts from George Williams and Joel Tomkins (EscarĂ© convs) gave the Warriors a huge 0-26 lead at the interval.

Salford fought back with Kris Brinning crossing within eight minutes of the restart, Gareth O'Brien converting and they kept the visitors out in the second half with Junior Sa'u and Michael Dobson cutting the gap late on in a 16-26 final score. 

The final game of the round came from the Beaumont Legal Stadium as Wakefield Trinity hosted Hull FC.

FC opened the scoring with penalty goal from Marc Sneyd inside seven minutes before he kicked twice more for 0-6 on 20 minutes. Sam Williams kicked a penalty for the hosts for 2-6 and the sides went into the interval just four points apart. 

Scott Grix crossed for the first try of the game with Williams converting for 8-6 but FC were to deny the hosts a win with a debut try for Jake Connor with Sneyd converting for an 8-12 victory. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

A 'Different League' in 2017

After last season was titled 'This Is Our Time' , it certainly was for three side as they shared the main honours with Wigan taking the top prize of Super League Champions while Warrington took the League Leaders Shield and Hull FC became Challenge Cup winners.

Last year, saw a second best year in terms of personal attendance in RL terms as well as providing a lot of coverage while as part of the Serious About Rugby League team. This year, I am no longer part of the SARL team with the departure partially due to being cast aside in November after managing the site/platforms for the majority of the year and a wish not to work with the team anymore after such event.

This means that although RL travels will continue as best they can, the video features will no longer be produced, more that the small clips will feature in my weekly diary series. Some travels in 2017 will be important ones with Leeds away seeing a quest to end a 100% losing streak, a return to Wakefield to right the wrongs of last years 62-0 loss and also a 50/50 chance of Castleford after the troubles of last season.

As with the opening post from last year, travels will of course depend on finances which means the dream of visiting Catalans is likely not to feature in 2017. The 2017 mantra matches the one chosen by the RFL - 'A Different League'.