Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
7 hours ago
The wait was over at the weekend, as the remaining twelve First Utility Super League clubs got their season underway.
There were impressive away wins for St Helens at Warrington Wolves and Leeds Rhinos at Hull KR. We also saw the birth of Marwan Koukash’s all star Salford Red Devils as below we review how Round 1 played out.
Warrington Wolves 8
Tries: J. Moynihan
St Helens 38
Tries: Makinson, Roby, Amor, Laffranchi,
Goals: Walsh 7
St Helens started their season with a bang as they brushed aside local rivals Warrington Wolves at the H.J. Stadium.
Warrington began life without stalwarts Lee Briers, Adrian Morley and Brett Hodgson as they handed a debut to ex Rabbitohs Roy Asotasi. The visitors gave debuts to ex Panther half-back Luke Walsh and Ex Wildcat Kyle Armour.
The Grand finalist’s from last year got off to the best possible start as Michael Monaghan set up the play for his brother Joel to score out wide after just two minutes, but this was as good as it got for the Wolves as Saints began to dominate.
Led by new playmaker Walsh, who organised everything, St Helens hit back with a purple patch of three tries in eight minutes to take a firm control of the game.
Centre Jordan Turner superb pass out of a two-man tackle to get right winger Tom Makinson over to level things up.
The next score soon arrived as good footwork by Gary Wheeler setup hooker James Roby crashing over the line and after a superb 40-20 kick by Walsh, Armour opened his Saints account by planting the ball on the line.
The ex Panther then made it 20-4 at the break as he kicked a late penalty goal. Within two minutes of the resumption it was game over when John Wilkin charged down Michael Monaghan' kick and a couple of plays later Anthony Laffranchi crashed over for the visitors fourth try of the night.
Joel Monaghan scored his second try on 68 minutes when Warrington substitute stand-off Gareth O'Brien regathered his own kick that bounced off the post.
Adam Swift put more gloss on the Saints win by adding his sides fifth try and man-of—the-match Walsh Ben Westwood's pass to score a simple touchdown and by kicking his seventh goal he contributed an impressive 18 points to announce his arrival in the Super League.
Hull FC 36
Tries: Whiting, Yeaman 2 Rankin, Lineham,
Thompson, Horne, Crooks
Goals: Westerman 2
Catalan Dragons 34
Tries: Cardace 3, Whitehead, Taia 2,
Goals: Bosc 3
Hull FC had to hang on by their finger nails to claim a narrow win over Catalan Dragons in a high scoring contest at the K.C. Stadium.
FC gave a Super League debut to ex Gold Coast Titan Jordan Rankin as they took on the visitors from the South of France who left out Scott Dureau and Brent Webb from their 19 man squad.
And it was the Dragons who struck first after a 40-20 kick from Thomas Bosc led to Damien Cardace taking Morgan Escare’s pass to touch down one-handed in the left hand corner after 12 minutes.
Seven minutes later Bosc superb high kick was taken out of the air by back rower Elliott Whitehead to make it 10-0 for the visitors.
The Black and Whites got back into the game thanks to Richard Whiting who finished off some good handling by Joe Westerman and Danny Houghton.
Westerman's conversion cut the gap to four points but Catalans hit back as Cardace gathered Escare's long pass for a double.
Just before the break good work by Whiting led to Kirk Yeaman reducing the gap to 16-12 to setup and intriguing second half.
Suddenly, led by Rankin Hull turned the screw and began to dominate the contest. Yeaman levelled things up by taking Rankin's pass and then the Ex titan half-back gave the hosts the lead by racing in from 50-meters out.
Tom Lineham added another simple score before Jordan Thompson charged through the Dragons defence to score with his first touch of the ball on his debut and the was more joy as Ben Crooks collected Richard Horne’s kick for another four pointer.
Unfortunately for the Black and Whites they failed to land any goals which nearly came back to haunt them in the last ten minutes as Catalan produced a stunning fightback.
Trailing 36-22 with five minutes left the French outfit gave Hull a mighty fright by adding three quick-fire tries.
Escare got things under way before Cardace completed his hat-trick and with second left on the clock Zeb Taia powered over only for Bosc to fail with the touchline conversion to claim an unlikely draw.
Bradford Bulls 18
Tries: Addy, Foster, Purtell
Goals: Foster 3
Castleford Tigers 36
Tries: Hauraki, Dixon, Clark, Carney,
Goals: Dixon 6
Castleford made it a good opening day by running out convincing winners over West Yorkshire rivals Bradford Bulls at The Provident Stadium Odsal.
It had not been a good start for cash-strapped Bulls as they faced points-deduction for going into a administration plus they lost star players Garreth Carvell and Jarrod Sammut who walked out of the club to sign for Hull and Wakefield respectively on the eve of the new season.
Lee Gaskell, Adam Henry and loanee Danny Bridge were all given their Odsal debuts as they entertained the Tigers who gave full debuts to no fewer than six close-season signings including.
Bradford struck first early on when Luke Gale and Gaskell put sent Danny Addy over the games first try converted by Jamie Foster.
Castleford got on terms when Weller Hauraki strolled through some less convincing tackling to score just before the break.
In the opening seven minutes of the second half the points began to flow as three tries were scored. Gale setup Foster for the first with a smart kick to the corner.
But the visitors responded immediately as Kirk Dixon crossed in the corner after a loose pass from Bulls forward Manase Manuokafoa.
Try number three was claimed by the hosts as Adrian Purtell took Gale’s perfectly weighted cross-kick to go over with Foster ‘goal making it 18-12 to Bradford.
However, The Tigers did not trail for long and turned the game around to dominate. Liam Finn sent Daryl Clark racing over for a try and then powerhouse winger Justin Carney scored a simple touchdown to make it 24-18.
In the last ten minutes Luke Dorn and Grant Millington both claimed touchdowns as the Tigers eased home to claim the points in a week to forget for the Bradford Bulls.
Hull KR 6
Leeds Rhinos 34
Tries: Moon, Briscoe 3, McGuire, Hardaker,
Goals: Sinfield 3
Leeds Rhinos made it fourteen opening day wins on the bounce as they eased pass Hull KR at a packed KC Lightstream Stadium Craven Park.
The house full signs were out as Rovers welcomed their biggest home crowd for over 25 years.
It was the Rhinos who would gain the early advantage and after just four minutes, the home side’s full-back Greg Eden spilled the ball over his try line leaving Joel Moon with the easy chance of touching down. Kevin Sinfield kicked the extras to make it 6-0.
Ben Cockayne should have scored on his return to Rovers after spilling a pass from Kris Welham the miss was not costly as soon after new signing ex Bulldog Kris Keating went thorugh a big gap in the Leeds defence to make it 6-6 at the interval.
However, after the restart it would be one-way traffic as the Rhinos ran in six unanswered try to dominate the game.
The first try came from ex Hull FC Winger Tom Briscoe who marked his Leeds debut by racing in from 45 metres out.
Try number two for the England winger soon followed after a he made the most of Welham jumping out of the defensive line.
And Briscoe's great day was complete as he finished off a superb break by Kallum Watkins to complete his hat-trick.
Danny McGuire sealed the win by picking up a loose pass near the halfway line, and sprinting clear .Sinfield failed with his fourth successive attempt as the visitors led 22-6 with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Two further touchdowns followed from full-back Zac Hardaker and England Centre Watkins to ensure that the six time Super League Champions ran out emphatic winners with a dominant second half performance.
Salford Red Devils 18
Tries: Hock, Hansen, Dixon
Goals: Mullaney 3
Wakefield Wildcats 14
Tries: Ryan, Godinet, Lauitiiti
The new era for Salford Red Devils began with a hard-fought win over Wakefield Wildcats at the A.J. Bell Stadium.
The wooden spoon winners from last year handed out 13 debuts as the Red Devils era began with the kick-off being delayed by ten minutes to let the extra fans in.
Second rower Harrison Hansen marked his debut with a crunching tackle on Wakefield winger Peter Fox which gave his side the position for ex Wiganer Gareth Hock to score his first try for the Red Devils.
Star signing Rangi chase limped off the pitch but this did not affect Salford as ex Wildcat Half-back Tim Smith took control of the game. Hansen took Smith’s pass for the second score of the game before Andrew Dixon scored the third.
Ex Parramatta Eel Jake Mullaney kicked three from three as the hosts built up an impressive 18-0 lead at the interval.
The Wildcats, inspired by debutants Paul McShane and Pita Godinet hit back to leave Salford holding on.
Godinet, one of three new signings who have been in the country less than a week, setup big second rower ex Eel Matt Ryan charging over for the visitors first score and then the ex Warriors half intercepted a Shane Howarth pass to go over himself.
Paul Sykes added the extras to make it 18-10 after 50 minutes.
On the hour mark it was game on as big Ali Lauitiiti crashed over the line taking three defenders with him.
Reece Lyne dropped Godinet‘s floated pass late on as Salford got away with an opening day win.
Widnes Vikings 64
Tries: Owens, Tickle, Brown 3,
Marsh 2, Flynn, Dean 2, Mellor
Goals: Owens 10
London Broncos 10
Tries: Forster, O'Callaghan
Widnes Vikings handed out an eleven try routing to the poor London Broncos at the Select Security Stadium.
Widnes gave a start to another new signing Danny Galea with Paul Johnson on the bench as they took on London Broncos who had nine new players in their squad made up of youngster and loanees.
But the Broncos stunned Widnes by taking a shock fifth-minute lead with a try from centre Mason Caton-Brown on their first attack, with French international Tony Gigot converting.
Hoverer, the Vikings did not take long to dominate and by half-time the game was all over as a contest as they opened up a 30-6 lead.
Jack Owens got things underway by taking Kevin Brown’s long pass. Ex Hull FC forward Danny Tickle kicked the extras from the touchline to mark his Widnes debut by bringing up his 2,000th career point.
Tickle leapt high to bag one for himself before Brown dummied his way over the line. Stefan Marsh and Brown, with his second, finished off the first half scoring.
It did not take long for the Vikings to continue their dominance. Paddy Flynn finishing off a flowing move.
Chris Dean added the seventh try for the hosts after 48 minutes to make it 40-6.
Next to score was Joe Mellor before Brown completed his hat-trick after good work by Rhys Hanbury.
London did manage a second try through Caton-Brown 10 minutes from time but there was still time for Marsh and Dean to score there second tries of the game.
Tickle added his 10th goal as the Vikings claimed the points in a one sided game.