Monday, 31 July 2017

Challenge Cup Semi Finals Review

After the regular season ended last weekend, the Challenge Cup semi finals bridged the gap ahead of next week's opening round of the Super 8s.

Saturday afternoon saw the first semi final take place at the Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster with holders Hull FC extending their defence of the trophy with a 43-24 win over Leeds Rhinos.

Leeds struck first with a try from Ryan Hall  which Kallum Watkins converted but FC were level at 6-6 within four minutes as Marc Sneyd converted Albert Kelly's try. The sides exchanged tries again as Hall claimed his second ahead of a Carlos Tuimavave effort with Watkins and Sneyd converting for 12-12.

FC led 18-12 into the interval after Chris Green's try (Sneyd conv) and they took further control of the tie before the hour with Tuimavave's second score followed by a conversion and drop goal from Sneyd for 25-12. A self-converted try from Watkins cut the gap to 25-18 on the hour but scores from Liam Watts, Jamie Shaul and Scott Taylor saw Sneyd convert twice for a huge 43-18 lead. The final say on the score line went to Leeds with Ash Golding crossing in the 79th minute with Jordan Lilley converting.

I attended the second semi final which took place on Sunday at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington and saw Wigan Warriors win 27-14 against Salford Red Devils.

Wigan raced into a 12-0 lead inside 16 minutes as Oliver Gildart crossed ahead of a first try of the season from Willie Isa with George Williams converting twice. Salford were level within ten minutes as Greg Johnson and Junior Sa'u touched down with Michael Dobson converting both.

A double blow nine minutes before half-time for the Warriors saw Sam Tomkins sin-binned with Dobson giving Salford a 12-14 lead with the resulting penalty.

Wigan levelled with a penalty of their own from Williams on 55 minutes before he missed the chance to make it 16-14 with a penalty four minutes later. The tie turned on the hour as Michael McIlorum  crossed with Williams kicking for a 20-14 lead which became 21-14 six minutes later after Tomkins kicked a drop goal. Salford pushed hard to cut the gap but with a minute to go Wigan wrapped up the win as Gildart crossed for his second try which Williams converted.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Super League Round 23 Review

After the most unpredictable season to date in Super League, the regular season came to an end with round 23.

The round opened on Thursday night as Warrington Wolves secured a 22-6 derby win over Widnes Vikings.

A rapid start from the Wolves saw Matty Russell cross inside two minutes for 4-0 before Joe Mellor went over and Stefan Marsh converted for 4-6.

Warrington took control from there though with a first Wolves try for Peta Hiku followed by a score from former Vikings half Kevin Brown and second from Russell with Stefan Ratchford converting the lot.

Wigan ended their mixed regular season campaign with a 34-0 rout of weakened Leeds Rhinos on Friday's TV game.

Wigan got off the mark with two quick efforts from Michael McIlorum and Sam Tomkins coupled with a George Williams conversion for 10-0. Williams extended the lead with a try of his own for 14-0 into the interval.

A three minute brace from Oliver Gildart saw Williams convert the latter for 24-0. The win was wrapped up in the final ten minutes by a try from Tom Davies and a second for Williams with Sam Powell converting the latter.

Another of the top four suffered a nilling as Leigh Centurions claimed a 25-0 win over Salford Red Devils.

Leigh got off the mark inside ten minutes as Gregg McNally crossed with Josh Drinkwater converting before improving an effort from Atelea Vea for 12-0.

The hosts led 18-0 at the interval after a first try for the club from Samisoni Langi with Drinkwater converting.

The win was wrapped up late on by a Drinkwater drop goal for 19-0 before he improved a second try from McNally.

Friday's third game saw a tight game as Hull FC edged a 14-10 win over Huddersfield Giants.

FC struck first as Mark Minichiello crossed inside 15 minutes with Marc Sneyd converting for 6-0. Josh Bowden went over seven minutes later to extend the lead, Sneyd converted for 12-0.

Hudds cut the gap before half-time though as Darnell McIntosh and Jermaine McGillvary crossed for tries with Danny Brough converting the former for 12-10.

The second half was a tight one with just one score between the sides which came five minutes from the end as Sneyd converted a penalty goal to confirm the win.

Saturday afternoon saw Castleford Tigers come from behind to claims a  32-24 win over Catalans Dragons.

The visitors went ahead inside nine minutes as Jy Hitchcox crossed out wide with Luke Gale converting before adding a penalty goal for 0-8. Zak Hardaker extended the lead with a long range effort, Gale converting for 0-14.

A superb fightback from the Dragons saw Lucas Albert, Tony Gigot and Fouad Yaha cross in a 14 minute spree with Gigot converting the lot for 18-14 but Cas had the last say in the first half as Hardaker kicked a penalty for 18-16.

Cas regained the lead with a Greg Minikin try which Gale converted for 18-22 but Catalans hit back with a Vincent Duport effort which Gigot converted for 24-22. The Tiger are fabled for late comebacks and this was no different as Hitchcox claimed his second try and Paul McShane crossed in the final five minutes with Gale converting the former.

The round and the regular season itself came to an end on Sunday afternoon as St Helens strolled to a 41-16 win at Wakefield Trinity.

A rapid start from both sides saw Danny Richardson cross for Saints with Mark Percival converting with former Saint, Matty Ashurst crossing for the hosts with Liam Finn converting for 6-6.

Saints took control with efforts from James Roby, Tommy Makinson and Regan Grace with Percival  converting the lot for 6-24.

Wakefield responded two minutes after half-time through Scott Grix with Finn converting for 12-24.  Mason Caton-Brown cut the gap further on the hour for 16-24 but a brace of penalties from Percival made it 16-30 before late tries from Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Zeb Taia were converted by Percival with the final say going to Richardson who kicked a drop goal on the hooter.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Super League Round 22 Review

Just one round left to go before the regular season comes to a close after this weekend saw round 22.

The round opened on Thursday night with my attendance of the week as Warrington Wolves edged a 16-10 win over Wigan Warriors.

A rapid start from Wigan saw Oliver Gildart cross inside three minutes for 4-0 before Benjamin Jullien levelled at 4-4 on 15 minutes. John Bateman restored the lead for Wigan with George Williams converting for 10-4. The gap was just two points at the interval as Ryan Atkins crossed late on for 10-8.

The Wolves kept their hosts scoreless in the second half as they turned the game around with a try from Ben Currie and two goals from Stefan Ratchford.

Friday's televised action saw a battle at the top as Castleford Tigers completed a 100% home record with a 38-14 win over Salford Red Devils.

A rapid start from the Tigers saw Greg Eden cross inside four minutes before Gareth O'Brien levelled at 4-4. A Ben Roberts try which Luke Gale converted was followed by a second score for Eden which saw him leave the field with a shoulder injury as Gale converted for 16-4. Kris Welham crossed for the visitors after a Gale penalty and Michael Dobson converted for 18-10 at the interval.

The Tigers took control with efforts from Joel Monaghan and Zak Hardaker (Gale convs) before Jake Bibby cut the gap for the visitors to 30-14. A second score for Monaghan and two goals from Gale rounded off the win.

Huddersfield Giants confirmed their Super League status with a comfortable 26-4 win over Leigh Centurions.

A tight first quarter between the sides soon saw Lee Gaskell cross for the hosts with Danny Brough converting for 6-0 before adding a penalty six minutes later for an 8-0 lead which lasted into the interval.

Ukuma Ta'ai extended the lead within three minutes of the restart, Brough converting for 14-0 before converting a second score from Gaskell for 20-0.

Leigh stemmed the spree with a try just before the hour mark from Josh Drinkwater. The Giants had the last say on the scoreline as Leroy Cudjoe crossed late on with Brough converting.

Ahead of facing each other in the Challenge Cup semi final in a fortnight, Leeds Rhinos overcame Hull FC with a 10-7 victory.

FC opened the scoring with a try from Scott Taylor inside seven minutes with Marc Sneyd converting for 0-6.Sneyd kicked a drop goal in the final seconds of the half for a 0-7 advantage.

Leeds won the second half though as Ryan Hall and Jack Walker crossed for tries with Jordan Lilley converting the latter.

The final game of Friday's quartet saw Wakefield Trinity claim a comfortable 36-8 win over Widnes Vikings.

The Vikings opened the scoring inside five minutes through Joe Mellor with Stefan Marsh converting for 6-0. Mason Caton-Brown crossed to cut the gap to 6-4 before Liam Finn levelled with a penalty on 23 minutes.

A penalty from Marsh made it 8-6 but Trinity would lead into the interval as Bill Tupou and Sam Williams crossed with Finn converting both for 8-18. The visitors took control in the second half with Tinirau Arona crossing ahead of second scores for Caton-Brown and Tupou with Finn converting both.

The round ended on Sunday afternoon as St Helens came from behind to claim a 46-28 win over Catalans Dragons.

A superb start for the visitors saw Justin Horo cross inside three minutes with Luke Walsh converting. Saints replied through a Theo Fages try and Mark Percival conversion for 6-6.

The sides exchanged scores again with a self converted effort from Walsh followed by an Alex Walmsley try, Percival converting for 12-12. Percival edged Saints ahead with a penalty before Tony Gigot crossed and Walsh converted for 14-18. Saints would lead at the interval though as Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook crossed and Percival converted, 20-18.

The Dragons went ahead ten minutes after the restart as Horo claimed his second try for 20-22 but a try for Jonny Lomax (Percival conv) was sandwiched by penalties from Percival as Saints led 30-22. Richie Myler (Walsh conv) cut the gap to 30-28 but a flurry from the hosts saw Percival, Luke Thompson and Ryan Morgan cross for tries with Percival converting twice.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Super League Round 21 Review

There are just two more rounds left of the Super League regular season after this weekend saw round 21, a round that saw two sides hit a half-century of points in comfortable wins.

Thursday's round opener saw a close-run city derby as Castleford Tigers edged a 25-24 win over Wakefield Trinity.

Trinity stunned the Tigers by leading 8-0 inside 15 minutes with a Ben Jones-Bishop try which Liam Finn converted before adding a penalty goal. Castleford. The hosts went on to become the first side nil the Tigers in a first half as they led 16-0 as Finn converted an effort from Kyle Wood and added a second penalty goal.

A superb fightback from Castleford saw them move into a 16-18 lead within 15 minutes of the restart as Greg Eden, Grant Millington and Mike McMeeken all crossed for tries which Luke Gale converted. Wakefield regained the lead through David Fifita on 69 minutes with Finn converting for 24-18. However, Cas drew level with just six minutes remaining as Jake Webster went over with Gale kicking for 24-24 before sealing the win with a drop goal in the final minute.

Friday saw two high scoring games away from the televised action which saw St Helens secure a 19-12 win over Hull FC.

A tight first half saw the hosts lead 8-6 having come from behind after a Jamie Shaul try and Marc Sneyd conversion saw FC lead 0-6 but a try from James Roby saw Marc Percival convert before adding a late penalty goal.

A self converted effort from Percival made it 14-6 within seven minutes of the restart but FC closed the gap to 14-12 with a try from Mahe Fonua and conversion from Sneyd  with 15 minutes left. Percival claimed his second try with an acrobatic finish for 18-12 but the last say went to Danny Richardson who's drop goal confirmed the win four minutes from the end.

Huddersfield Giants moved closer to securing their Super League status with a 40-0 hammering of Widnes Vikings.

The Giants stormed into an 18-0 lead inside 16 minutes as Shannon Wakeman, Jermaine McGillvary and Ryan Hinchcliffe all crossed for tries which Martyn Ridyard converted. The lead was 24-0 at the interval as Ridyard converted a try from Adam O'Brien after 36 minutes.

The game was over as a contest within 11 minutes of the restart as Darnell McIntosh went over and Ridyard converted for 30-0. The rout was completed by two scores in the final nine minutes as McGillvary claimed his second try ahead of a late effort from Ukuma Ta'ai which Ridyard converted to reach the 40 point mark.

Warrington Wolves continued their quest to avoid The Qualifiers as they eased to a 50-10 win over Leigh Centurions.

Early scores from Ryan Atkins and Ashton Sims saw Stefan Ratchford convert either side of a penalty goal for 14-0 before a seven minute brace from Tom Lineham coupled with a Ratchford conversion looked to have given the Wolves a 24-0 lead into half time but a self converted effort in the last minute of the half from Ben Renyolds made it 24-6 at the break.

Ben Pomeroy crossed within eight minutes of the restart with Ratchford converting for 30-6 before the win was wrapped up by two scores in three minutes after the hour, Lineham completed his hat-trick ahead of a Jack Hughes try with Ratchford converting for 40-6. Leigh stemmed the Wolves spree with a Matty Dawson try for 40-10 but a fourth for Lineham was followed late on by a Declan Patton score which Ben Westwood converted.

Saturday evening saw Wigan Warriors secure their Super League status with a 32-10 win over Catalans Dragons.

A tight first half in searing heat saw the Warriors lead 4-8 at the break after Joe Burgess crossed for a try which George Williams converted for 0-6 before Williams added a penalty goal on 29 minutes after Vincent Duport had made it 4-6.

The Dragons took the lead within eight minutes of the restart as Duport claimed his second try with Luke Walsh converting for 10-8. Wigan drew level with a penalty goal from Williams before taking control with a second try from Burgess and a self converted effort from Williams for 10-22. The win was confirmed late on as Sam Tomkins claimed his first try of the season ahead of a hat-trick try for Burgess with Williams converting both.

The final game of the round saw Leeds Rhinos claim a 50-24 win over Salford Red Devils on Sunday afternoon.

The hosts led 6-0 early on as Josh Wood crossed for his first senior try which Michael Dobson converted. Leeds levelled through a Ryan Hall try and Kallum Watkins conversion before Tom Briscoe and Matt Parcell crossed either side of a try for Watkins who converted twice for a 6-22 advantage. Further scores from Joel Moon and Jamie Jones-Buchanan and a second score from Briscoe saw Jordan Lilley add a conversion for a huge 6-36 lead at the interval.

Salford cut the gap with a Ben Murdoch-Masila try which Dobson converted for 12-36 before a Lilley penalty for 12-38. A self converted effort from Dobson was followed by a try from Anthony Mullally with Lilley converting for 18-44. Murdoch-Masila crossed for his second try which Dobson converted for 24-44 but the last say went to the Rhinos as Jack Walker crossed in the final minute with Lilley converting to bring up the 50 point mark.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Super League Round 20 Review

The run in to the end of the regular season is in full swing with just three rounds left until the 8s split after this weekend saw Round 20.

Thursday night's round opener saw Leeds Rhinos edge a 24-22 win over St Helens to move into second spot.

The Saints lost playmaker Matty Smith to injury inside six minutes but opened the scoring through Adam Swift's try on 16 minutes for 0-4 before Joel Moon levelled for the Rhinos just two minutes later,4-4. A penalty from Jordan Lilley just before half-time saw Leeds lead 6-4 at the break.

Stevie Ward crossed within four minutes of the restart with Lilley kicking for 12-4 but Saints hit back quickly with a self converted effort from Tommy Makinson to cut the gap to 12-10. The visitors went ahead as James Roby touched down,Makinson converting for a 12-16 lead.

Leeds took control with Saints having Jon Wilkin sin-binned as Kallum Watkins went over and on Wilkin's return, Ryan Hall went over with Lilley improving both for 24-16. Saints forced a frantic finish with Alex Walmsley's 78th minute try which Makinson converted for 24-22 but were unable secure consecutive comeback victories.

Friday's action saw a battle at the top as Castleford Tigers moved clear by edging a 24-22 win over Hull FC.

A rapid start from FC saw Mahe Fonua cross inside six minutes for 4-0 before a self-converted effort from Luke Gale saw the Tigers lead 6-4 after 11 minutes. A penalty from Gale was swiftly followed by a Mike McMeeken try and Gale conversion for 14-4. The Tigers were in control at half-time as Zak Hardaker went over in the final minute with Gale kicking for 20-4.

Gale added to the lead with a penalty for 22-4 before a second try from Fonua saw Marc Sneyd convert for 22-10. Gale made it six goals with another penalty for 24-10 with ten minutes to go but a five minute brace from Fetuli Talanoa saw Sneyd convert to set up a tight finish which saw the Tigers just about hold on for the win.

Saturday's televised action saw Catalans Dragons come from behind to claim a 40-36 win over Leigh Centurions.

Leigh raced into an 0-18 lead inside the opening quarter with tries from Matty Dawson, Danny Tickle and Ben Renyolds with Renyolds converting all three. Catalans stemmed the Leigh spree with scores from Jodie Broughton and Mickael Simon with Luke Walsh converting both for 12-18 but a brace late in the half from Sam Hopkins saw Renyolds convert once for 12-28 into half-time.

The Dragons cut the gap with two scores in three minutes as Simon claimed his second try ahead of a Vincent Duport try, Walsh converting once for 22-28. A self-converted second-try from Renyolds moved Leigh clear at 22-34. Catalans cut the gap through Sam Moa (Walsh conv) for 28-34 and drew level with ten minutes to go as Justin Horo touched down with Walsh kicking for 34-34.

Leigh regained the lead with six minutes to go via a penalty from Renyolds for 34-36 but they were stunned in the final minute as Julian Bousquet crossed and Walsh kicked to seal the win for the Dragons.

Saturday evening saw Wakefield Trinity continue their push for the top four with a 26-12 win over Warrington Wolves.

The hosts opened up a slim 2-0 lead after eight minutes with a penalty goal from Liam Finn before the visitors took the lead through Brad Dwyer on 12 minutes with Stefan Ratchford converting for 2-6 .

Trinity regained the lead with a try from Bill Tupou which Finn converted before adding a penalty goal four minutes later for a 10-6 lead. Wakefield increased their lead just before half-time as Ben Jones-Bishop crossed for 14-6.

A try from Kyle Wood ten minutes after the restart saw Finn convert to open up a 20-6 advantage which was cut to 20-12 within five minutes as Chris Hill went over and Ratchford converted. Wakefield confirmed the win five minutes from the end as Mason Caton-Brown crossed with Finn converting.

Sunday afternoon saw Salford Red Devils move into second spot with a 36-20 victory over Huddersfield Giants.

The Giants opened the scoring with six minutes played as Leroy Cudjoe touched down with Danny Brough converting for 0-6. Salford responded with three scores in five minutes, Junior Sa'u, Robert Lui and Kris Welham all crossing with Michael Dobson converting for 18-6. Hudds cut the gap just before half time with an effort from Aaron Murphy for 18-10 at the interval.

Another Salford spree began with two tries within nine minutes of the restart, Sa'u crossing for his second try ahead of a score from Gareth O'Brien for a 26-10 lead that soon became 36-10 with Greg Johnson and Ben Murdoch-Masila crossing and Dobson adding a conversion. Hudds cut the gap to 36-14 with an effort from Kruise Leeming before Darnell McIntosh finished off a stunning play in the 78th minute with Brough converting.

My attendance this week saw a return to the DW Stadium on Sunday as Wigan Warriors ended their winless streak with a 28-12 win over Widnes Vikings.

The Warriors went ahead with a try from Sean O'Loughlin on his 350th SL appearance with George Williams converting for 6-0. Two quick tries before half-time for the hosts saw Tony Clubb score on his comeback from kidney removal and Lewis Tierney cross with Williams converting once for 16-0. Widnes avoided a first half blank with a self-converted try from Lloyd White  just before the interval for 16-6.

Widnes cut the gap to 16-12 just before the hour as White crossed and converted for a second time but a five minute brace from Joe Burgess saw Williams convert twice to end the Warriors' winless run.