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3 days ago
Our European correspondent Simon Reuben analyses the just-completed round of fixtures in the First Utility Super League across the UK and France.
Round 21 saw the end-of-the road for the Bradford Bulls as the four time Champions were relegated to the Championship.
Elsewhere St Helens stayed top with Wigan on thier heels and in one of the biggest surprises ever in the summer era Leeds Rhinos and England skipper Kevin Sinfield was sensationally sent-off for head butting in pulsating game with local rival fourth place Castleford Tigers that ended honours even.
Below we look at how everything else panned out:
Leeds Rhinos 24
Tries: Briscoe, Bailey, Ablett 2
Goals: Sinfield 4
Castleford Tigers 24
Tries: Shenton, Hauraki, Massey, Millington
Goals: Sneyd 4
Kevin Sinfield was dramatically sent-off for the first time in his career as Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers played out a pulsating draw at Headingley Carnegie Stadium.
This was a huge game as the second place Rhinos entertained their great local rivals fifth place Castleford Tigers. Leeds welcomed back full-Back Zak Hardaker who had been suspended for five games for making homophobic comments to a referee.
The Tigers got off to a dream start when Michael Shenton touched down after Justin Carney had palmed back Marc Sneyd's high kick, but Leeds were soon level when Tom Briscoe out jumped Carney after Danny McGuire's towering kick.
It was soon 12-6 to the hosts as good work Ryan Hall and Joel Moon kept the ball alive on the last and on hand was substitute Ryan Bailey who scored the try with his first touch of the ball.
In this end-to-end high intensity game Kirk Dixon setup ex Rhinos Weller Hauraki to go over as the sides were all square again. Hardaker then pulled off a try saving tackle on Dorn and then he forced a handling error from Marc Sneyd and this gave Leeds the confidence to score their third try of the first half.
Carl Ablett forced his way over the line after beating three defenders on a solo run. Sinfield kicked his third conversion to make it 18-12 but the scores were tied once more seven minutes before the break when Nathan Massey went over from close range.
The second half was play and the same level and once more the visitors were kept out by good scrambling defence by Hardaker and a controversial video referring decision which disallowed a Carney effort for obstruction in the build-up by Shenton.
On 58-minutes the Rhinos re-took the lead when Ablett scored his second try after Joel Moon's grubber kick on the last tackle rebounded off Jake Webster and the big second rower twice kicked the ball forward before diving on it with inches to spare near the dead ball line.
Sinfield's fourth goal restored his side's six-point lead and then he saw the red mist as he was sensationally shown a red card for head-butting Luke Dorn eight minutes from time.
Two consecutive penalties enabled the Tigers to pile on the pressure and the extra man counted when Grant Millington took Lee Jewitt's pass to charge through a gaping hole in the Leeds defence.
Sneyd kicked his fourth goal to tie the scores up. Both Jamie Peacock and Sneyd failed with drop goals as the game ended in an entertaining draw.
Widnes Vikings 28
Tries: Owens 2, Hanbury, Flynn, Phelps
Goals: Tickle 4
Warrington Wolves 14
Tries: Atkins, Bridge, Ratchford
Widnes Vikings ended Warrington Wolves long winning run as they claimed the points at the Select Security Stadium.
The Vikings looking to turn round their indifferent form but they faced a real task as they entertained local rivals Warrington Wolves who had not lost since May.
Widnes made the early running and after Danny Galea went close, Jack Owens got things under way as he took a cut-out pass to cross out wide. The Wolves missed two opportunities' as both Gene Ormsby and Anthony England should have scored.
Three tries in the final three minutes of the first half gave the hosts a good advantage. Rhys Hanbury went through a huge gap in the Warrington defence and with the last play Paddy Flynn took Stefan Marsh's flick pass out of the back to touch down.
Danny Tickle kicked 2 from 3 as the Vikings led 16-0.
Needing to score next, Warrington made the better start to the second half Ormsby and Matty Russell should have combined to put them back in it, but Russell could not keep hold of the ball when he would have had a clear run to the line.
The Vikings made the most of this as Flynn went on a weaving run to the line and his long pass released Cameron Phelps to score in the corner and Tickle's conversion and subsequent penalty made it 24-0.
Ryan Atkins and Chris Bridge gave the Wolves some hope with two quickfire scores but it was Widnes night as Kevin Brown setup Owens for the match winning try.
Stefan Ratchford scored third try for the visitors but it was too late as the Vikings claimed the local bragging rights and kept alive their top eight hopes.
Wigan Warriors 56
Tries: Tierney, Charnley, Williams 3, Smith, Powell, Manfredi 2, Taylor
Goals: Smith 8
Hull FC 10
Tries: Talanoa, Watts
Wigan Warriors moved up to second with a crushing 10-try destruction of Hull FC at the D.W. Stadium.
After a great win in Perpignan last week, Wigan continued where they left off as, the son of Legend Jason Robinson, Lewis Tierney raced over the line from 80-meters out after just four minutes.
The Black and Whites were briefly level when Josh Charnley made a hash of an attempted clearance from Jordan Abdull's grubber kick to present winger Fetuli Talanoa with the simplest of scores.
Three tries in the last 12 minutes of the first half pretty much assured Wigan of winning the game. Charnley took Anthony Gelling's pass to force his way over at the corner for the first and then teenage stand-off George Williams scored the next and then setup the third when he made the break which led to Matty Smith finishing things off as the host led 22-4 at the interval.
Once again Wigan continued their dominance as Williams showed good footwork t to score his second try and then hooker Sam Powell also got on the scoresheet.
Williams completed his hat-trick on the hour after good dribbling skills by Smith who kicked his sixth conversion to take the lead up to 40-4.
There would be more misery for Hull as winger Dom Manfredi helped himself to a quickfire brace to take the score to 50 points.
Loose forward Liam Watts scored a consolation try for The Black and Whites, but the hosts has the final say as Scott Taylor scored their tenth try in the last minutes to complete the rout.
London Broncos 16
Tries: Woodburn-Hall, Lovell, Solomona
Goals: Drinkwater 2
St Helens 58
Tries: Percival 2, Amor, Turner 2, Wellens, Dawson 2, Thompson, Soliola, Laffranchi
Goals: Percival 7
St Helens marinated top spot in the First Utility Super League by demolishing relegated London Broncos at The Hive.
It did not take long for Saints to get on thier way as Lance Hohaia broke the line and in support was Mark Percival to touchdown.
Kyle Amor then powered his way through three tackles to score next to the posts as the lead was doubled, it soon became 16-0 as big prop Alex Walmsley made a strong run and this led to Jordan Turner scoring the third try of the first quarter.
The Londoners managed to get on the scoreboard when Jon Wilkin's kick was charged down and James Woodburn-Hall was on hand to score.
It did not take long for St Helens to continue on their way as Turner took a short pass from James Roby to make it a double. Paul Wellens scored the visitors fifth try of the first half to make the score at the break 28-6.
At the start of the second half, Percival grabbed himself a double after a flowing handling move involving Roby and Turner.
The Broncos hit back with two efforts of their self from Will Lovell after good work by Josh Drinkwater and thier third try arrived on the hour mark as Denny Solomona got on the end of a high kick from Drinkwater.
However, this only made Saints more determined and they blew the Londoners away with five unanswered tries. Matty Dawson got the first then Luke Thompson bursting over with Sia Soliola adding a further score straight from kick-off.
Anthony Laffranchi and Dawson got the others as St Helens romped to victory over the Broncos whose loosing run continued.
Catalan Dragons 40
Tries: Millard, Escare 2, Whitehead 3, Taia
Goals: Williams 6
Wakefield Wildcats 6
Catalan Dragons turned on the style as they ended Wakefield Wildcats five match unbeaten run with a big win at the Gilbert Brutes Stadium in Perpignan
After suffering a crushing defeat at the hands of Wigan last week, the Frenchside responded well and opened the scoring in the 13th minute when Daryl Millard collected Sam Williams' kick to the left corner.
From the restart, Leon Pryce and Louis Anderson combined as Morgan Escare outpaced the visitors cover to make it 10-0
Suddenly, it was all Catalan and second rower Elliot Whitehead continued his rich vein of try scoring by dummying his way over from close range on just after the twenty minute mark. Williams added is second goal.
Four minutes later Zeb Taia chased Millard's short kick to score try number four and just on half time Whitehead ran through would be tackles to make it a double as the home side led 28-0.
It did not get better for the Wildcats after the break as Paul Sykes knocked on and Escare picked up the ball to race in from 70 metres out. Williams again made no mistake with the extras to take the score up to 34-0.
Just before the hour mark, Whitehead scored his hat-trick try after the ball was moved out to the right and the ex Bull second rower swatted off Sykes in touching down.
At least Wakefield were not whitewashed as Paul McShane setup Reece Lyne for a late consolation as new coach James Webster's winning run came to an abrupt end.
Hull KR 18
Tries: J. Hodgson, Hall, Weyman
Goals: Burns 3
Salford Red Devils 38
Tries: Caton-Brown, Evalds, Sau, J. Griffin 2, Fages, Johnson
Goals: J. Griffin 5
Salford Red Devils kept alive thier play-off hopes by calming a win over Hull KR at the K.C. Lightstream Stadium.
This was a game that both sides could ill afford to lose as they looked for a place in the play-offs.
After a tight first quarter, Josh Hodgson opened the scoring in the 20th minute, after squeezing over the line from dummy half. Travis Burns added the extras.
Eight minutes later Mason Caton-Brown continued his dream start for Salford, since moving from London, by scoring the visitors first try.
Back came Rovers as good work by half-backs Kris Keating and Burns led to Craig Hall giving the hosts a 12-4 lead at the break.
Niall Evalds made it 12-10 as the Red Devils made a brilliant start to the second period. Salford then took the lead for the first time in the game when Hall lost the ball and Junior Sa'u picked the ball up and grounded it. Josh Griffin's successful conversion made it 16-12.
Griffin then got one for himself and it the game was soon beyond Hull KR when Theo Fages found a big gap in the home defence to score. Griffin added his second try before Greg Johnson ran through the home defence for his side's seventh try and the win.
Michael Weyman scored a late consolation but Rovers were well beaten as they all but saw their faint play-off hopes end.
Huddersfield Giants 52
Tries: Connor, Ta'ai 2, Robinson, Bailey, McGillvary 3, Ferres, Wardle
Goals: Cudjoe 6
Bradford Bulls 26
Tries: George 2, O'Brien, Kearney 2
Goals: Foster 3
Bradford Bulls were relegated from the Super League as they were defeated by Huddersfield Giants at the John Smith's Stadium.
This was a must win for Bradford as any other result would see them loose thier ever present stay in the Super League.
And it was the Bulls who took the lead when Luke Gale setup former Giant Luke George to score the games first try. Teenage full-back Jake Connor marked his home debut by scoring the equalising try.
Hooker Adam O'Brien grabbed a second score for the visitors but a mistake by before the winger Bradford full-back Brett Kearney led to Ukuma Ta'ai getting Huddersfield back on terms.
Lee Gaskell then put up a huge high kick and Gale was on hand to claim his second as once again the Bulls would not go away.
Suddenly Huddersfield got thier act together and hit Bradford with three tries in the second quarter to lead 26-16 at the break.
Leroy Cudjoe's long-range break created a score for scrum-half Luke Robinson with Chris Bailey getting the other after good work by Danny Brough and second rower Brett Ferres.
But another handling error, this time from substitute Larne Patrick - within a minute of the re-start - gifted Bradford a glorious attacking position and Gaskell sent Kearney over for their fourth try.
However, this would be has close as they got when Huddersfield ran in four tries without reply to effectively win the game. Brett Ferres forced his way over from close range for the first then Joe Wardle stole the ball in a one-on-one tackle from George to sprint 70 metres for an opportunist score.
Jermaine McGillvary touched down twice eight minutes to complete his hat-trick and Ta'ai scored a second, with Cudjoe taking his goal tally to six from 10 attempts as the hosts went past fifty points for the second time this season against the Bulls.
Kearney grabbed a consolation try for the visitors late on but it was too late for the four-times Champions as they became the second founder club along with London to drop into the Championship for next season.
First Utility Super League After Round 21
|10||Salford City Reds||21||8||1||12||452||532||17|
|13||Bradford Bulls||21||4||0||17||366||834||2 Relegated|
|14||London Broncos||21||0||0||21||304||925||0 Relegated|