A preview of London-based Harlequins RL's chances in Super League for 2007.
A preview of Leed Rhinos chances in Super League for 2007.
SIX days before their season kcik-off, a preview of Huddersfield Giants chances in Super League for 2007.
A preview of St Helens' chances in Super League for 2007.
START of season is next weekend! Club previews to appear here, one a day over the next twelve days...
TODAY, a summary of player movements so far for the other six Superleague clubs, as well as relegated Castleford for good measure. Remember, for all the latest signing details as they happen, see the forum thread maintained by "Evil Homer" by clikcing "here".
IT?S been a busy week or so since St Helens were victorious in the Grand Final in front of a Superleague record crowd at Old Trafford, and the other clubs have already been busy signing players to try and make up ground for next season. Let?s see if we can track some of the player movements that have been confirmed so far.For all the latest details as they happen, see the forum thread maintained by ?Evil Homer? by clikcing "here".Hull FC - Danny Tickle, Wayne Godwin, Willie Manu, Matt Sing, Hutch Maiava Ex-Wigan forwards Danny Tickle and Wayne Godwin will be looking for fresh starts on the other side of the country when they turn out at KC Stadium under Peter Sharp next season. Willie Manu joins from relegated Castleford where his season was interrupted with an Australian community service order. Hull lost several players mid-season to retirement and other clubs. Along with retired international winger Matt Sing joining from North Queensland and a former NZ squad member Hutch Maiava joining from Cronulla, Hull FC aren?t resting on this year?s second place finish, and the taste of what is possible over the past two seasons could spur this club onto more. Bradford ? Michael Platt, James Evans, Chris Feather Glenn MorrisonCoach Steve McNamara?s first signings since taking over at Grattan Stadium were been prop Chris Feather on a three year deal, and Parramatta forward Glenn Morrison, Castleford fullback Michael Platt and Wakefield loanee James Evans from Huddersfield, all on two year deals. Bradford have lost winger Karl Pryce to rugby union and forward Brad Meyers to the Gold Coast, and rumours persist that Wakefield?s David Solomona might look to hook up with Bradford should they meet the conditions of his release. The Bulls faithful will again have expectations that they will be there or thereabouts when the major titles are decided next season.Leeds ? Brent Webb, Kylie LeuluaiCoach Tony Smith will welcome two Kiwi signings to Headingley in New Zealand international fullback Brent Webb and New Zealand born Manly prop Kylie Leuluai. Next season the Rhinos will be without rugby union bound Chev Walker, and gold Coast bound fullback Richie Matthers, as well as the retired Willie Poching and released Shane Millard, and departing Mark O?Neil and Chris Feather. However Leeds will also retain their mid-season signings of former NZ international Clinton Toopi and former GB international Jamie Thackray. While successful enough this year, by Leeds standards the season did not produce the expected results, and I?d suspect Leeds are still on the lookout for that someone who might be able to recreate their spark of previous seasons.Warrington - Vinnie Anderson, Paul Johnson, Adrian MorleyAfter being left out of the 17 for St Helens? biggest games this season, Vinnie Anderson moves to Warrington on a three year deal. Warrington paid ?50,000 for Anderson to move with one year left on his Saints contract, and he will play either alongside GB international Martin Gleeson in the centres, or in the Wolves back row. Vinnie joins Warrington?s other international recruits, Paul Johnson and Adrian Morley at Halliwell Jones Stadium under England coach Paul Cullen next year. Warrington have lost Logan Swann to NZ Warriors, Tohe Kohe-Love to Widnes, and prop Mark Hilton has retired. Warrington seem intent on doing everything they can to remain a top six club in the future.Salford ? Luke Dorn, Mark Edmondson, Michael KorkidasAs one of this season?s key players Andrew Dunemann leaves the Reds for Canberra, London-based Luke Dorn moves up Manchester way to fill the gap. The Reds have also signed forwards Mark Edmondson returning from his stint with the Syndey Roosters and Michael Korkidas one of several forwards that seem to be leaving Wakefield. The Reds will be without the retiring Sean Rutgerson as well as Chris Charles and Simon Baldwin who are moving to National League clubs. Salford have spent sensibly in also recruiting players from National League and Academy teams to cover, but coach Karl Harrison be desperate next season to maintain the club?s hard won top six status. Harlequins ? Scott Hill, Sione Faumuina, Julien Rinaldi, Danny Orr, Jon Grayshon, Chris MellingAlways seems to be a lot of movement for the London club, and next year will be no exception with 13 players from this year?s squad who will no longer wear the Quins colours under coach Brian McDermott. Twickenham Stoop regulars will be expecting Melbourne?s Scott Hill, French international Julien Rinaldi who has signed from Les Catalans, or Wigan?s Danny Orr to make up for the loss of playmakers Luke Dorn and Thomas Leuluai. Forward Jon Grayshon from Huddersfield and utility Chris Melling from Wigan are probably the first of several signings to bolster some depth in next season?s Harlequins side which will be without the likes of regulars Mark Tookey, Danny Williams, Nick Bradley-Qawilawa and Joe Mbu. Part Two with other Superleague clubs coming tomorrow?
IT?S down to the last four teams standing, and this weekend sees 1 v 2 play for a place in the grand final (loser with a second bite of the cherry) and 4 v 6 play for survival. St Helens, Hull, Bradford, and Warrington ? only three will survive this weekend?s games?Friday ? St Helens v Hull FC, Knowsley Road 8pmCompetition favourites St Helens and second placed Hull face off after a week?s rest with a grand final place up for grabs. Saints finished the season with twenty-four wins with a points difference of 509, showing their dominance throughout the regular season. Hull managed twenty wins including a mid-season winning streak of thirteen matches, with a points difference of 142.St Helens has the form on the board, winning their last three league matches and having taken out this year?s Challenge Cup. However captain Paul Sculthorpe has been ruled out for the rest of the season, which may serve as a reminder to the Saints of their injury-laden early departure from the finals a year ago. Coach Daniel Anderson has been talking his side up, as has fullback Paul Wellens, both claiming this is the best side they have been associated with.Hull meanwhile have lost their last two games, and will be desperate to recapture their mid-season form, which saw them beat St Helens at Knowsley Road in June. Since the mid-season change of coach and the arrival of Peter Sharp it?s been a different Hull side to earlier in the year, albeit one that may have peaked too early and enter the play-offs with a point to prove. Minor injury worries for gareth Carvell and Shayne McMenemy appear to have cleared up.Some match-ups to look out for are up front, with the Saints engine room rotation of Nathan Cayless, Paul Anderson, and Keiron Cunningham with James Graham, Maurie Fa?asavalu and James Roby up against Hull?s front row mainstays of Garreth Carvell, Ewan Dowes, Paul King and Richard Swain. Meanwhile in the halves Hull?s Richard Horne gets a chance to stake a Tri-Nations claim against test incumbent Sean Long. And there?s talent all over the field really, and this should be a great clash.Previous results this season:Round 7: Hull 0 St Helens 46 (KC Stadium)Round 16: St Helens 26 Hull 27 (Knowsley Road)St Helens 18-man squad: Wellens, Gardner, Lyon, Talau, Meli, Pryce, Long, Cunningham, Cayless, Gilmour, Wilkin, Roby, Bennett, Hooper, P. Anderson, V. Anderson, Graham, Fa'asavalu.Hull FC 18-man squad: Briscoe, Carvell, Cooke, Domic, Dowes, G. Horne, R. Horne, Lee, McMenemy, King, Radford, Raynor, Swain, Yeaman, Whiting, Tony, Wheeldon, Washbrook.Referee: A KleinSaturday ? Bradford v Warrington, Grattan Stadium 6pmIt?s a fight for survival between the Bradford Bulls and Warrington Wolves, each knowing that no team has won Superleague from 4th or 6th position before. But a win here will send either team into the final three with a chance at earning a grand final berth. Bradford finished the season six points above Warrington, and despite a mid-season two point penalty for previous salary cap indiscretions, the reigning champions? play-off spot had assured for several weeks prior to the end of the league rounds. This was just as well as Bradford lost two games against lower placed teams in the lead-up to the play-offs, but recovered to beat Huddersfield in the final round and then outclass Salford in last week?s elimination game. Warrington have emerged as a surprise packet at the end of the season, picking up a win against Hull, competing against St Helens, and then reversing their result from a month before by knocking Leeds out of the competition last week with a Lee Briers field goal. Warrington have a good record against the Bulls this season, they are a team that seems to be playing out the 80 minutes and taking nothing for granted, and peaking at the right time of year.There?s one day remaining before the squads are reduced to 18 men, and time will tell whether Wolves fullback Brent Grose has recovered from knee injury in time to take part in this vital clash, and prop Chris Leikvoll is also available for selection. Bradford expect to have loose forward Jamie Langley available after a groin injury, in addition to recent returnee Paul Johnson. Both sides will give their all in this match, as a loss here spells the end of the road. Previous results this season:Round 8: Bradford 18 Warrington 22 (Odsal Stadium)Round 11: Warrington 27 Bradford 4 (Halliwell Jones Stadium)Round 23: Bradford 50 Warrington 22 (Grattan Stadium)Bradford Bulls 20-man squad: Johnson, Burgess, Meyers, Cook, I. Harris, Bai, Pryce, St Hilaire, B. Harris, Langley, Newton, Ferres, Deacon, Vagana, Vainikolo, Hape, McKenna, Withers, Lynch, Henderson.Warrington Wolves 20-man squad: Grose, Fa?afili, Martin Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Reardon, Briers, Sullivan, Leikvoll, Swann, Wainwright, Mark Gleeson, Westwood, Wood, Barnett, Parker, Rauhihi, Pickersgill, Bracek, Riley, Bridge.Referee: R Silverwood
AND then there were six? welcome to the business end of the season. This weekend sees the opening clashes in the Superleague play-offs with four teams facing the prospect of elimination, while the two highest ranked teams (St Helens and Hull) have earned themselves a weekend of rest. The top six will soon become the final four ? game on!Friday: Leeds Rhinos v Warrington Wolves8pm at Headingley Stadium Third place v sixth place, loser eliminatedThis is the first season since 2002 where Leeds has not finished in the top two on the competition ladder. However they will take hope from the feats of Bradford last season, who from third position ended up Champions. By comparison the Leeds squad looks a little weaker in some places than in previous years, and they enter the finals with injured first choice fullback Richard Mathers, and regular bench forward Willie Poching.Warrington made it through to the second week last season with the talents of Andrew Johns at their disposal, and will be looking to match that achievement with the current squad. Ten of their 20-man squad played alongside Joey in last season?s play-offs, but they too start their finals campaign without injured first choice fullback Brett Grose, hooker or loose forward Jon Clarke and prop Mark Hilton.This should be a fast-paced game owing to the creativity of both sides, but with some good forward clashes as well. Keep an eye out for Dream Team second rower Leeds? Gareth Ellis, but the match-up that may well decide the result is in the halves where Dream Team five-eighth Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow square off against Salford?s Chris Bridge and Lee Briers. Lee Briers has had a mid-week meeting with Great Britain coach Brian Noble, and will be desperate to use this last chance to try and force his way onto the Tri-Nations tour. Leeds Rhinos 20-man squad: Donald, Walker, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Peacock, Lauitiiti, Ellis, Sinfield, Millard, Jones-Buchanan, Scruton, Kirke, Williams, Tansey, Thackray, Toopi. Coach: Tony Smith (Aus).Warrington Wolves 20-man squad: Fa'afili, Mn. Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Reardon, Briers, Sullivan, Leikvoll, Swann, Wainwright, Mk. Gleeson, Westwood, Wood, Barnett, Parker, Rauhihi, Pickersgill, Riley, Bridge, Harrison, Penny. Coach: Paul Cullen.Referee: R SilverwoodLeeds last five games: LWWLWWarrington last five games: LWLWLRound 26: Leeds 54 Warrington 16 at HeadingleyRound 12: Warrington 44 Leeds 16 at Halliwell JonesBart?s tip: Leeds by 12.Saturday: Bradford Bulls v Salford City Reds6pm at Grattan StadiumFourth place v fifth place, loser eliminatedThe reigning Champions won their way through from sudden death last season, so that prospect alone won?t be causing too much concern in the Bulls camp. And at least their topsy-turvy patches of form during the season may have been put right with a confident win last start under pressure against Huddersfield. The Bulls look to be at full strength for their finals campaign with no major injury problems.Salford by contrast are competing in their first ever Superleague play-off, and have achieved a long held ambition under coach Karl Harrison to make the top six. However the Reds won?t want to let things stop there, and having contested a tight match at home against Bradford in June will fancy themselves every chance of winning here. The only regular players missing from the squad for the start of the finals are the injured second rower Ian Sibbit and centre Junior Langi.The hard-working Salford side are likely to look to restrict the creative opportunities of Bradford, and in a close game are more than capable of getting a roll on their opposition. Bradford will be likely to try and dominate the ruck area and then quicken the pace of the game and the score line in their favour. Some key match ups will be hookers Terry Newton and Ian Henderson up against Salford?s Malcolm Auker, Bradford halves Iestyn Harris and Paul Deacon battling with Andrew Dunemann and Luke Robinson, and keep an eye out for danger man and Dream Team winger Salford?s David Hodgson. Bradford Bulls 20-man squad: Johnson, Burgess, Meyers, Cook, I. Harris, Bai, Pryce, St Hilaire, B. Harris, Langley, Newton, Ferres, Deacon, Vagana, Vainikolo, Hape, McKenna, Withers, Lynch, Henderson. Coach: Steve MacNamara.Salford City Reds 20-man squad: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, McGuinness, Moule, Dunemann, Robinson, Coley, Alker, Rutgerson, Finnigan, Charles, Highton, Wilshere, Haggerty, Littler, Brocklehurst, Adamson, Lima, Williams, Turner. Coach: Karl Harrison.Referee: A KleinBradford last five games: LWLLWSalford last five games: WLLWLRound 19: Salford 17 Bradford 16 at The WillowsRound 3: Bradford 34 Salford 4 at Odsal (Grattan) StadiumBart?s tip: Bradford by 8.Broadcast detailsBoth games shown live in the UK on Sky Sports 3. Both games shown live in NZ on Sky Sport 2 (Sat 6:50 am) and Sky Sport 1 (Sun 4:50 am).Both games shown delayed in Australia on Friday 29 September (TBC) on Fox Sports.Leeds v Warrington covered live through BBC Radio Leeds: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/leeds.shtml
THIS weekend sees the final round of Superleague XI, and two pressing issues remain unsettled ? the order of fifth and sixth place for Salford and Warrington will determine first week play-off opponents, and of course the result of Wakefield v Castleford will determine which team is subject to relegation. Other teams will be hoping for either a good hit-out ahead of the important play-off games to follow, or for a positive end to a long season. Game on!Friday ? Wigan v Hull at JJB Stadium (televised)With Wigan successfully clear of the relegation tussle, home fans will be looking for a win against second placed Hull to give them some positives to take into the off-season. This will be the last game in Wigan colours for halfback Michael Dobson, Brett Dallas, Scott Logan and Wayne Godwin who are all joining other clubs next season, while the club will also acknowledge recently retired Kris Radlinski. Wigan lost against Harlequins last week by a point while Hull lost to Warrington and will be hoping to return to form before the play-offs. Hull are not resting any players from the squad, knowing that they have earned a week off and will play their next game in the Qualifying Semi-Final against St Helens. Tip: Could easily go either way? maybe Wigan?Friday ? Leeds v Catalans at HeadingleyThird placed Leeds host last placed Catalans as the French club aim to finish their debut season on a high note. The team has won eight games and mirrored the performance of many teams having previously made their first step into the elite division. However their Superleague future is secure only because of the exemption from relegation granted to them as an expansion club. Dragons winger Justin Murphy currently heads the try scoring table on 24 and will be hoping to add to his tally here. Catalans were beaten at home by Huddersfield last start, while Leeds were outclassed by competition leaders St Helens. Hoping to hit some form ahead of next week?s Elimination Play-Off against either Warrington or Salford, Leeds are without injured centre Chev Walker, with Danny McGuire again listed to make his comeback from shin injury. Tip: Leeds.Saturday ? Harlequins v Salford at Twickenham StoopSalford can make certain of fifth place and an Elimination Play-Off against Bradford next week with a win here in London. A loss opens up the chance that they might face Leeds next week instead. Either way it is the first time Salford have qualified for the Superleague Play-Offs, with their win last week over Castleford. Andy Coley, David Hodgson and Stuart Littler were the winners at the Salford awards night mid-week. Meanwhile Harlequins, fresh off their one point win over Wigan, take the field this week in the wake of the news that their CEO since 2002 Nic Cartwright is calling it a day, and prop Danny Williams is also retiring. Luke Dorn is Salford-bound next year, and with eight players yet to be re-signed a surprise win could be in the works here if the players want to impress and pitch in to send each other off in style.Tip: Could easily go either way, but you?d think Salford...Saturday ? Wakefield v Castleford at Atlantic Solutions Stadium (televised) This game is the focus of this weekend?s round and the result could influence the future of both clubs. Castleford have been there before, losing at home against Wakefield in 2004?s final round to end up relegated to National League One. Meanwhile Wakefield won National League One and promotion in 1998 and have been playing Superleague ever since. Under ex-Hull coach John Kear, Wakefield?s recent performances have improved as their quest to avoid the drop intensifies, and following last week?s surprise win over Bradford it all now comes down to this game. Castleford had a patch of strong form around July, but have recently have slid back down to danger culminating in last week?s loss to Salford. The past two years of effort by the Tigers to climb back and survive in Superleague now comes down to this one game ? will that motivation be enough? May the best team on the day win? Tip: Um, Wakefield?Sunday ? Warrington v St Helens at Halliwell Jones StadiumBy game time on Sunday Warrington will know whether their opponent in next week?s Elimination Play-Off has already been decided, or whether they can influence their post-season path. The Wolves have made the Play-Offs for the third time in four seasons, and having beaten second place Hull last week will be trying for the quinella by knocking off the leaders. They come up against a St Helens squad that has taken all before them this season, winning the Challenge Cup and topping the League ladder to earn next week off. The Saints will be looking to again display their dominance for all to see as we near the important stage of the season. Tip: St Helens.Sunday ? Huddersfield v Bradford at Galpharm StadiumSeventh placed Huddersfield are now safe from relegation following last week?s win over Catalans, but the Challenge Cup Finalists will be hoping to finish the season on a positive note with a final win at home, given that they cannot make the play-offs. Huddersfield will farewell Michael De Vere, Paul March, Jim Gannon, Wayne McDonald and Jon Grayshon, however the Giants are yet to win over fourth placed Bradford in Superleague. The Bulls will be looking to put in a performance worthy of reigning Champions following last week?s defeat at the hands of Wakefield, and Great Britain rep Paul Johnson returns to the squad for the first time since May.Tip: Maybe Bradford. Next week?s games:Friday 22 September 8pm - Elimination Play-Off 1 Leeds Rhinos v Warrington or Salford at Headingley(Third Place v Sixth Place)Saturday 23 September 6pm - Elimination Play Off 2Bradford Bulls v Salford or Warrington at Grattan Stadium(Fourth Place v Fifth Place) (St Helens and Hull FC continue through to the second week.)