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First Utility Super League XIX - Round 20 Review
Our European correspondent Simon Reuben analyses the just-completed round of fixtures in the First Utility Super League across the UK and France.
Widnes Vikings 10
Tries: Tickle, Marsh
Wakefield Wildcats 12
Tries: Smith, Scruton
Goals: Sykes 2
Wakefield Wildcats made it five games unbeaten as they grounded out win over Widnes Vikings at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.
Wakefield came into this match on the back of win against Wigan and Leeds as they looked to put the pressure on eighth place Widnes Vikings who were in misfiring form.
Widnes started well and spent most of the first quarter in the Wildcats twenty, it took 18 minutes for the pressure to tell as Danny Tickle took a sort pass from Joe Mellor to crash over the line to make it 4-0.
The Wildcats had better finish to the first half but the scoreboard operator was not troubled again as the Vikings took their narrow 4-0 into the interval.
At the start of the second half , Widnes winger Patrick Ah Van picked off a pass by Wakefield scrum-half Tim Smith and went almost the full length of the field before being hauled down just short of the try line by centre Jimmy Keinhorst, which was very crucial in the final outcome of this tight contest.
The hosts gradually worked themselves back into the game after a bit of good fortune they took the lead. Widnes prop Alex Gerrard was attempting to run the ball away from his own line when he lost it backwards in the tackle and on hand was Smith to dive on the loose ball and score. Paul Sykes added the extras to make it 6-4.
Big prop Nick Scruton raced onto Smith's pass 10 metres out and powered his way over the line as Sykes second goal gave the Wildcats a useful 8 point advantage.
Back came the Vikings as Wakefield full-back Richard Mathers failed to deal with Mellor's speculative kick and centre Stefan Marsh followed up to get the vital try. Tickle kicked the touchline conversion to setup a grandstand finish.
Ah Van came very close to snatch a last minute win as he took Jon Clarke's pass but the winger lost the ball and Wakefield held on for another valuable win which leaves them just two points off a play-off place.
Castleford Tigers 44
Tries: Holmes, Carney, Finn 2, Milner, Dixon, Mariano, Millington, Shenton 2
Goals: Sneyd 6
Huddersfield Giants 30
Tries: Bailey 2, Cudjoe, Ward, Wardle, Crabtree
Goals: Cudjoe 5
Castleford Tigers remained in fourth spot with victory over Huddersfield Giants in a high scoring contest at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
The Giants had to do without star talisman Danny Brough, Scott Grix and David Faiumu, but they could hardly have made a better start, when Chris Bailey forcing his way over from close range after just five minutes of the game.
It did not take long for the Tigers to strike back as Marc Sneyd broke from his own half to setup Oliver Holmes for the equalising try.
Huddersfield extended their lead made it 12-4 when Leroy Cudjoe intercepted Liam Finn's pass and sprinted 90 metres to touchdown.
In the final twenty minutes of the first half Castleford turned things around with two scores. Firstly winger Justin Carney scattered the defenders for a trademark try and with seconds left on the clock Finn re-gathered his own kick to give the hosts a 16-12 lead.
Castleford turned the screw at the start of the second half as they hit the Giants with three unanswered tries in thirteen minutes. Adam Milner burrowed his way over from dummy half for the first then Kirk Dixon took Finn's pinpoint kick to the corner.
The third came from a Michael Shenton break that got Finn over for his second try as the lead was up to 32-12. Huddersfield then hit back with two quickfire tries to give themselves hope.
Joe Wardle took Brett Ferres' pass for the first and then Bailey went over in copybook fashion to his first score to claim the Giants' fourth try. Cudjoe kicked his fourth conversion to cut the gap to eight points.
However, it was the Tigers night as second rower Frankie Mariano scored his side's seventh try to all but win the game.
But in this high scoring contest there was still time for Eorl Crabtree to pull one back for the Giants and for Grant Millington to have the final say as Castleford cemented fourth spot.
Tries: Burrow 2, Sutcliffe, Ablett, McGuire
Goals: Sinfield 5
Hull KR 6
Leeds Rhinos turned over Hull KR at Headingley Carnegie with a five try burst in the final quarter.
Both teams came into this game on the back of contrasting results, Rovers were in confident mood after demolishing Saints last time out and for Leeds they were looking to rebuild after suffering a last minute defeat at Wakefield Wildcats, but they were given a boost with the return of Rob Burrow after the little half back had not played since he broke his collar bone in April.
There was nothing to separate them during a scoreless first half which began brightly before fading badly.
The quality of rugby league on show belied the perfect conditions and it took almost an hour for the opening try, Burrow going over from close range to the relief of the majority of onlookers.
The first half was a strange affair as Leeds had most of the ball but due to bad passing and unforced errors they failed to get over the Rovers line and the same could be said for thier opposition as the teams went into the break scoreless.
Another chance came and went six minutes into the second period as Ryan Hall dropped a pass from Joel Moon after the Rhinos had shifted the ball nicely from right to left.
Hall made amends by stopping Caro in his tracks on his way to the Leeds line and the scoreline remained 0-0.
20 minutes from the end the deadlock was finally broken after Leeds received a penalty in the Rovers half, a couple of plays later Burrow darted over from dummy half.
The shackles were suddenly released as two more soon followed. Tom Briscoe set Kallum Watkins free down the right and the centre passed inside for Liam Sutcliffe to touchdown next to the posts and moments later Carl Ablett was first to McGuire's kick. Sinfield kicked all three as Leeds led 18-0 after 67 minutes.
Hull KR quickly responded when Josh Hodgson threw a dummy to go over from acting half and could have been even better had Neville Costigan not been held up over the line.
McGuire settled thing by following up a break by Sinfield before Burrow broke through to round off the scoring as the Rhinos cemented second spot.
St Helens 46
Tries: Roby, Wellens 2, Masoe, Percival, Swift, Hohaia, Makinson
Goals: Percival 7
Bradford Bulls 22
Tries: Gale, Arundel, Purtell, Foster
Goals: Foster 3
St Helens stayed top of the table with a routine win of Championship bound Bradford Bulls at Langtree Park.
After being humiliated at Hull KR last time out, St Helens coach Nathan Brown wanted a responded from his team as they took on Bradford Bulls who were despite for a win to try and starve off relegation.
The first half was all Saints as they effectively had the game won by the break as they led 28-0. Mark Flanagan sent James Roby over for the opening try after nine minutes and eight minutes later veteran Full-Back Paul Wellens took Adam Swift' pass and raced in from 60 meters out.
Big Samoan Prop Mose Masoe barged through several attempted tackles to add a third by the posts before Mark Percival - who kicked four from five- and Swift also touched down before the interval.
Bradford had a nightmare start to the second half and after 43 minutes Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook charged through a hole to send Lance Hohaia for another four-pointer.
More misery was to follow for the visitors as St Helens moved the ball along the line for Tommy Makinson to dive over in for a trademark try in the right hand corner.
Leading 40-0, Saints eased off and they were caught out as the Bull ran in four quickfire tries. Luke Gale pounced on a bouncing ball to touch down for the first and soon after Joe Arundel got his name on the scoresheet.
Adrian Purtell added try number three before Jamie Foster also touchdown against his former club to go with his three goals as the gap was cut to 40-22.
Despite switching off, St Helens did have the last laugh as Wellens scored with seconds remaining to leave the struggling Bulls one step nearer the trap door.
Salford Red Devils 35
Tries: Chase, Caton-Brown 2, Griffin, Johnson, D. Griffin
Goals: J. Griffin 4, Chase
Drop Goal: Chase
Tries: Hadley, Yeaman 2, Shaul
Goals: Rankin 3
Salford Red Devils continued their good run with a good win over Hull FC at the A.J. Bell Stadium.
The Red Devils had to do without Kevin Locke due to a groin injury, but they gave as home debut to Mason Caton-Brown.
Hull started the better and had long periods of play in the Salford half, but against the run of play they opened the scoring when Rangi Chase swooped onto a careless offload by Hull forward Liam Watts and the stand-off raced in from 80 metres out on 16 minutes.
Soon after the talisman half-back produced a superb delayed pass to get Caton-Brown over the line. Josh Griffin kicked one conversion and a penalty while Chase made it 13-0 with a drop goal on the stroke of half-time.
It did not get much better in the second half for The Black and Whites as Jordan Rankin was sin-binned for holding Greg Johnson down in the tackle after the Salford winger had made a break. The extra man soon counted as Josh Griffin got on the end of Chase's kick to make it 19-0.
Hooker Danny Houghton suddenly got Hull going and they reduced the arrears when Dean Hadley touchdown. Houghton then created as second for Kirk Yeaman as The Black and Whites were just trailing by nine points behind.
Two tries in four minutes, effectively made sure of home win. Good work by Niall Evalds led to Johnson going over at the corner before prop Darrell Griffin took Tommy Lee's pass to score next to the uprights.
Yeaman and Jamie Shaul both got over the whitewash in the final ten minutes as Hull finished strongly, but with time running out Caton-Brown swooped on a loose ball for his second try.
Catalan Dragons 16
Tries: Escare, Whitehead, Cardace
Goals: Williams 2
Wigan Warriors 37
Tries: Clubb, Bowen 2, Charnley, Taylor, Burgess
Goals: Smith 5, Hughes
Drop Goal: Smith
Wigan Warriors turned on the style as they defeated Catalan Dragons in Perpignan.
It took 11 minutes for Wigan to take the lead as George Williams sent in Tony Clubb with a short pass. Catalans hit back quickly as Zeb Taia superb offload got in-form Full-Back Morgan Escare racing over the line
The Dragons then took the lead when Leon Pryce's kick to the right corner was knocked back by Michael Oldfield and on hand was Elliott Whitehead to touchdown.
However, the Warriors upped the pace and stunned Catalan with three unanswered tries to lead 24-10 at half-time. Matty Bowen got on the end of a flowing move for the first and then he setup Josh Charnley and the former Cowboys legend then made it a double as sprinted clear from 70-meters out.
After the break, the French outfit suffered two big blows as both Jason Baitieri and Benjamin Garcia were sin-binned in a run of five consecutive penalties conceded in a three-minute period.
Wigan took full advantage as Scott Taylor scored from close range and then Joe Burgess latched on to Dan Sarginson pass as the lead went up to 36-10.
Matty Smith confirmed the win by a late drop goal before Damien Cardace raced over in the final moments for a consolation as Catalan suffered only thier second home defeat this season.
Warrington Wolves 72
Tries: Monaghan 4, Hill 3, Currie 3, Wood, Ormsby, Harrison
London Broncos 12
Tries: Keyes, Foster
Goals: Drinkwater 2
Warrington relegated London Broncos with a 13 tries demolition at the H.J. Stadium.
The Londoners came into this game without a win this year and with Salford ‘ victory over Hull yesterday, anything other than victory would see the Broncos loose thier top flight status for the first time in the summer era.
It did not take long for the Wolves to open the scoring when in the seventh minute good handling Led to Chris Bridge sending Joel Monaghan over for the opening try.
Ben Westwood then got Monaghan over for his second soon after as the hosts led 8-0. But on their attack, London hit back as the ball was kept alive superbly and stand-off Joe Keyes crossed to cut the gap to just two points.
However, this would be as close as the visitors would get in the game. The Wolves upped the tempo and blew Broncos away with four tries in a blistering nine-minute spell.
Firstly Monaghan's kick on the last tackle bounced nicely for Chris Hill to touch down and fine inter-passing ended with Ben Currie touching down four minutes later.
Straight from the restart a superb break by Gareth O'Brien allowed the supporting Currie to claim a quick-fire double and then Monaghan completed a well deserved hat-trick as Warrington took a commanding 32-6 lead at the interval.
The second half was much of the same as the hosts racked up the points. Currie claimed his hat trick just after the restart before there was a bit of rest bite when Scott Moore crashed over from close range for the Londoners.
But normal service was soon resumed as Paul Wood stretched over the line. Monaghan then scored his fourth, with Hill claiming two more to complete his hat trick and Gene Ormsby and Ben Harrison also touching down in a thirteen try rout which left the Broncos still without any win this year.
First Utility Super League Ladder after Round 20
|12||Salford Red Devils||20||7||1||12||414||514||15|
|14||London Broncos||20||0||0||20||288||867||0 Relegated|