Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Castleford Tigers continued their good form as they withstood a Hull FC fight-back to claim the points at KC Stadium.
On 6 minutes Hull suffered a blow as prop Lee Radford was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle. The visitors took the lead with a Kirk Dixon penalty goal and moved further ahead after an error from Will Sharp led to Richard Owen scoring the first try of the night, on his return from his double leg break against Bradford last February.
The Black and Whites got back into the game after swift handling left a three-on-one overlap for Kirk Yeaman to touchdown out wide.
Hull now got a foothold in the game and came close to adding more points but just before the break a missed interception by Sharp led to Willie Isa racing in to make it 10-6.
In the early part of the second half, Hull continued to press and were rewarded with a Danny Tickle try as he crashed in from close range. Tickle added the extras as the host led 12-10.
Dixon landed a penalty on 57 minutes to draw Cas level and they re-established their lead when Rangi Chase danced his way into space and delivered two dummies to put Isa in again.
With just over 15 minutes left in the game a brawl led to Martin Aspinwall and Sean Long being placed in the sin-bin. Hull were penalised again and Dixon made it 20-12 with his fourth goal of the game.
In a dramatic end to the game Craig Fitzgibbon crashed over to give Hull some hope only for it to be ended when Long, after just returning to the field, was sent-off for an ugly incident as the Tigers held on for their sixth win in seven games this season.
Leeds Rhinos 22
Tries: Jones-Buchanan, Buderus, Webb
Goals: Sinfield 5
Wigan Warriors 22
Tries: J Tomkins, S Tomkins, Goulding, Prescott
Goals: S Tomkins 3
Wigan claimed an unlikely draw in the last quarter of the game as they stunned Leeds Rhinos at Headingley Carnegie Stadium.
Having been well beaten by leaders Warrington a week earlier, Wigan took the lead on 11 minutes after a scrappy start. Joel Tomkins finished off Thomas Leuluai's break.
Leeds clawed themselves back into the game and hit the champions with two quick-fire tries. Jamie Jones-Buchan stretched out to get the hosts on terms and a clever inside kick from Ryan Hall saw Danny Buderus dribbling the ball over the line. Kevin Sinfield added the extras to make it 12-4.
The Rhinos had various chances to increase their lead but they did not add to the score as the teams went into the break.
Two Sinfield penalties gave the hosts a useful lead after Jeff Lima was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle.
And, Leeds looked to be out of sight 16 minutes from time when Brent Webb went in at the corner, Sinfield converting to make it five from five attempts with the boot to take the score to 22-4.
However, there was to be some late drama. Sam Tompkins Chipped over the defence and re-gathered to cut the gap and when Darrell Goulding squeezed in at the corner the lead was down to 22-14.
Two minutes from time, they were in again when Prescott barged over.
Tomkins kicked the conversion and, from the restart, the visitors still had time for one more set of six. A stunning attack involving both Tomkins brothers took the Warriors to within metres of the line and they were awarded a penalty.
As the final hooter sounded Sam Tompkins gained Wigan their second draw of the season by coolly adding the penalty.
St Helens 34
Tries: Soliola, McCarthy-Scarsbrook 2, Wellens, Foster, Graham
Goals: Foster 5
Hull KR 16
Tries: Welham 2, Webster
Goals: Hall 2
St Helens claimed their second home win of the season by easing past Hull KR at Stobart Stadium Widnes.
The hosts dominated the early exchanges and should have been 12-0 up but they were stunned as Rovers took the lead through Chris Welham who finished off Jake Webster's break.
But it proved a minor setback as Saints hit back, James Graham powering to the line before James Roby sent in Sia Soliola.
Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, fresh off the bench, then took Roby's pass to crash over by the posts for his first try since moving from Quins. And the England prop did not have to wait long for his second, coming in almost identical fashion from a Roby pass for Saints' third in the space of 10 minutes.
Just before halftime Paul Wellens made it 24-6 after supporting Ade Gardner's break.
The next try did not come until 57-minutes when Gary Wheeler set up young winger Jamie Foster and the game was over as a contest five minutes later as Graham scored his sides sixth try of the night.
Rovers did manage to make the score more respectable with late scores from Webster and Welham, but they suffered their sixth defeat of the season as they remain at the wrong end of the table.
Salford City Reds 10
Tries: Cashmere, Broughton
Tries: Tansey, Sammut, Thomas
Goals: Schifcofske 2
Crusaders moved off the foot of the table with a win over Salford City Reds at The Willows.
Salford started the better and pounded the visitor's line. Vince Mellars was sin-binned for a grapple tackle but the hosts failed to make the one man advantage count.
And on the stroke of half time, Jordan Tansey pounced on Daniel Holdsworth's loose pass and raced 90 metres to score his first try for Crusaders since arriving after been sacked by Hull FC.
The Welsh-side extended the lead early in the second half when Hep Cahill's loose pass looked to be deflected by a Salford defender and Jarrod Sammut hacked ahead to score.
Ray Cashmere crashed over to give Salford some hope and five minutes later Jodie Broughton raced onto Stefan Ratchford's kick to pick up smartly and go over in the corner as the lead was cut to two points.
In the last ten minutes of the game veteran Welsh legend Gareth Thomas collected a Lloyd White pass to go over and take Crusaders off the bottom of the league as they reached zero points.
Bradford Bulls 24
Tries: Elima, Diskin, Kearney, Sykes
Goals: Ah Van 4
Harlequins RL 22
Tries: Pryce 3, Clubb
Goals: Gale 3
Bradford Bulls moved to seventh as they edged past Harlequins RL at Odsal.
Quins were the better side in a scrappy opening 15-minutes and they took the lead as ex-Bull Karl Pryce took Chad Randall's long, lofted pass to grab his first try.
French captain Oliver Elima clung onto Brett Kearney's pass to touch down, Patrick Ah Van's conversion edging the hosts in front. In the last move of the half hooker Matt Diskin took Marc Herbert's short pass to force his way over to make it 10-4 at the interval in favour of Bradford.
Within three minutes of the restart Pryce bagged his second of the game as he took Randall's pass and wrong-footed the Bradford defence.
The Bulls regained the lead on 52 minutes when Kearney gathered fellow Australian half-back Herbert's high kick to force his way over.
Patrick Au Van added the extras and moments after his penalty goal put the host's two scores clear. Paul Sykes forced his way over to effectively win the game for Bradford.
However, in the last minutes of the game Pryce cut the gap by scoring his hat-trick, but time ran out as Bradford moved above Quins with their third home win of 2011.
Huddersfield Giants 34
Tries: Robinson, Horne 2, Lawrence 2, Lunt
Goals: Brough 5
Wakefield Wildcats 10
Tries: Dean, Jeffries
Huddersfield Giants moved up to second by seeing off Wakefield Wildcats at Galpharm Stadium.
The first half was a tight affair with both sides scoring a try a-piece.
On 9 minutes England hooker Luke Robinson gave the Giants the lead as he wriggled his way over the line.
Chris Dean scored his third try of the season as the visitors drew level. But on the stroke of half time ex-Wildcat Danny Brough added a penalty as Huddersfield led 6-4.
Straight after the restart Graeme Horne went over to increase the Giants lead. Wakefield would not go away and eight minutes later, Ben Jeffries went over to reduce the gap to 12-10.
However, in the final quarter, led by Danny Brough, Huddersfield buried Wakefield by adding four unanswered scores. Michael Lawrence helped himself to a brace with Horne and Shaun Lunt all getting on the score-sheet.
So the Giants sneaked above Cas into second on the narrowest of points difference margins and for Wakefield they remain at the bottom of the table on zero points.
Warrington Wolves 20
Tries: Monaghan 2, Riley, Myler
Goals: Hodgson 2
Catalan Dragons 22
Tries: Stacul, Vaccari, Ferriol, Dureau
Goals: Dureau 3
Catalan Dragons produced the shock result of the season as they defeated league leaders Warrington Wolves at HJ Stadium.
The French side suffered a major blow as influential fullback Clint Greenshields dislocated an elbow in only the third minute.
Joel Monaghan took Chris Bridge's pass to open the scoring for the Wolves. Catalan responded well and drew level as Sebastien Raguin found room on the left to send Cyril Stacul over in the corner.
Warrington retook the lead as Monaghan broke through a tackle to touch down, Hodgson converting.
But the Dragons were level at 10-10 by the break when Frederic Vaccari broke from halfway and beat Bridge to the line for a try improved by Scott Dureau.
The Wolves struck again early in the second half when Riley, who had gone close only to knock on moments earlier, was set up by Rhys Evans in the corner. However, the Dragons would not go away and hit back when David Ferriol powered his way over the line.
Richard Myler dummied his way over the line as Warrington led gain but his mistake led to the deceive moment of the game as Dureau raced clear to score the match winning try.
Both teams came close to adding to the score late on, but the game ended on a sour note for Catalan as Dureau was carried off after being caught by a late tackle from Wolves forward Garreth Carvell.
After six wins on the spin, it was Warrington's first defeat since the season-opening reverse to Huddersfield in Cardiff, but they remain top on points difference. And for the Dragons it was their third win of the campaign, surprisingly all coming away from home.