Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
In the opening game Leeds Rhinos claimed a last minute win over rivals Wigan Warriors 12-10 in the tie of the round at Headingley Carnegie Stadium.
Played in continuous rain on a greasy pitch this game was a war of attrition. Leeds had the early pressure but they failed to take the lead as skipper Kevin Sinfield hit the post twice with penalty goals.
At the other end Pat Richards had his kicking boots on as he converted three goals to give a Wigan 6-0 lead. In the last ten minutes of the first half Sinfield managed to kick two goals as the Rhinos trailed 6-4. Sam Tomkins came close to scoring a try for the Warriors as he was held up over the line.
The second half was continued the same as both teams made mistakes as the ferocious tackling continued. Sinfield kicked Leeds level but Wigan were reduced to twelve men when Liam Farrell was sin-binned for a late challenge on kicker Danny McGuire.
Going into the last ten minutes of the game Wigan held a 10-8 lead and with time running out Leeds bombed a chance as Brett Delaney threw the ball into touch.
However, there was to be some drama as the Rhinos scored the winning try in the last minute, from a scrum in the Wigan twenty. Full-back Lee Smith found a gap and he went over the line to send Leeds into the Semi-Final's and knock the Super League leaders out.
At Knowsley Road St Helens overcame Championship club Barrow Raiders 32-12.
Barrow backed by a strong following started well but Saints built up the pressure and Kyle Eastmond sent Paul Clough in for the opening try. The hosts then lost Eastmond to an ankle injury and Barrow hit back to level with a Ned Catic score.
The visitors came close again and showed some strong resistance but just before the break Saints hit back and with tries from Clough and Jonnie Lomax to lead 16-6.
After the re-start a high kick from Jamie Rooney caused confusion and Catic pounced to get Barrow back into the game. However, St Helens stepped up the pace and won the game comfortably with tries from James Roby, Lomax and Matt Gidley.
Despite being bottom of the Engage Super league Catalans Dragons made light work of Championship side Batley Bulldogs as they ran out 74-12 winners at Mount Pleasant.
Catalans ran in 13 tries with Oliver Elima and Jamal Fakir scoring braces. French scrum-half Thomas Bosc was at the heart of things and he also kicked 11 goals, as the French outfit are within eighty minutes of a second visit to Wembley.
Jason Walton and Kris Lythe scored consolations for the Bulldogs.
In the final tie of the round holders Warrington Wolves gained a hard fought victory 26-22 over Bradford Bulls at Odsal.
Warrington made a good start and led 12-0 early on. Lee Briers opened the scoring and then he turned provider for Ryan Atkins to add another. Bradford hit back with tries from Rikki Sheriffe and Dave Halley. Vinnie Anderson hit back for the Wolves, but just before the break Chris Nero went over for the Bulls who trailed 16-18 at the interval.
A second half double from winger Chris Hicks gave Warrington some breathing space but the Bulls would not lie down and ex-Sea Eagle Steve Menzies gave the hosts some hope with a try on 64-minutes.
Paul Sykes's kicked his third conversion to cut the gap to 26-22. Bradford tired their best to snatch the game but the Wolves held on to book their place in the last four.