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ESL Round 1 Review
Castleford Tigers 18, Hull FC 42. Att: 10,188
Harlequins RL 16, St Helens 40. Att: 8,213
Catalans Dragons 38, Wigan Warriors 30. Att: 11,122
Leeds Rhinos 20, Huddersfield Giants 12. Att: 16,119
Wakefield Wildcats 14, Bradford Bulls 20. Att: 9,157
Warrington Wolves 6, Salford City Reds 24. Att: 10,845
Engage Super League XI got underway at the Jungle on Friday night when Hull FC convincingly defeated newly promoted Castleford Tigers. Hull ran in eight tries with new signing Sid Domic being the game?s most outstanding player. His explosive running caused the Tigers numerous problems and was credited with been the first try scorer of Super League XI. Kirk Yeaman also scored twice for Hull. Although the result was disappointing for the Tigers they still managed to breach the Hull defence on four occasions with Gray Viane scoring two tries, the others coming from Ryan McGoldrick and Richard Fa'aoso.
Saturday afternoon saw title favourites St Helens easily dispose of new boys Harlequins RL at the Twickenham Stoop in front of a bumper crowd. Saints ran in seven tries with Great Britain full-back Paul Wellens scoring a hat-trick and former Rooster Jason Cayless scoring on debut. Jamie Lyon contributed sixteen points with a try and six goals. Harlequins suffered a pre match blow when influential skipper Mark McLinden did not make the starting line up due injury. However they did score three consolation tries against an awesome looking Saints.
Super League new boys Catalan Dragons stunned Wigan Warriors in a pulsating debut in southern France on Saturday night. The Dragons side produced a stirring display to send the Warriors to an unlikeley defeat. Playing with assured confidence Les Catalans kept it tight all the way in their first ever Super League game and got off to a fantastic start when on their first attack ex-Knight Mark Hughes scored their first ever try. In a ding-dong battle the lead changed hands on six occasions and the Dragons appeared to be heading for defeat when the Warriors lead 30-26 with only a few minutes left on the clock. But two converted tries from Ian Hindmarsh and Julien Rinaldi gave the Les Catalans victory and a dream start to their campaign.
Leeds Rhinos opened their campaign with hard fought victory over a much-improved Huddersfield Giants before a near capacity card at Headingley Carnegie Stadium. Former Manly Sea Eagle winger Scott Donald produced a good all-round display by scoring the Rhinos second try and a making a last ditch try saving tackle on the Giants Chris Nero. The Giants withstood a second half barrage by the Rhinos but only conceded a late Danny McGuire Try. For the Giants Brad Drew was busy as ever and newcomer Albert Torrens scored on his debut. The game was played on heavy, sandy surface and with persistent rain throughout made handling difficult.
Super League champions Bradford Bulls came from behind to defeat a spirited Wakefield Wildcats at Belle Vue. A sock was on the cards until a late try by Kiwi star Shontayne Hape put Bradford in front for the first time and despite Wildcats pressure the Bulls held on for a hard fought victory. Paul Deacon playing his first game since being severely injured for Great Britain in the Tri-Nations series kicked four goals, which proved to be the difference between the teams.
Under strength Salford City Reds stunned much-fancied Warrington Wolves with a shock win at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. Papua New Guinea International, John Wilshire, scored two first half tries to put the Reds in a commanding position. Warrington Wolves scored early in the 2nd half when Henry Fa?afili went over to cut the deficit, but further tries by the City Reds sealed a most unlikely victory for the visitors. Salford were missing four key players including their main first choice halfbacks but a disappointing new-look Warrington Wolves never troubled them.
Looking back at the first weekend of Engage Super League XI the most encouraging signs were the overall match attendances, which averaged nearly 11,000 and the two unlikely results at Warrington in southern France, where new boys Les Catalans made a terrific start to life in Super League.