​First Utility Super League XIX - Round 22 Review

Our European correspondent Simon Reuben analyses the just-completed round of fixtures in the First Utility Super League across the UK and France.

There were plenty of shocks in round 22 as Both Bradford Bulls and Wakefield Wildcats produced stunning wins over Wigan Warrington respectively.

Saints, the despite a serious injury to Luke Walsh stayed top and the Leeds Rhinos remained in second place with a hard fought win over much improved Salford Red Devils:-

Hull FC 18

Tries: Talanoa, Abdull, Yeaman
Goals: Rankin 3

Castleford Tigers 18

Tries: Shenton, Sneyd, Clare 2
Goals: Sneyd

Att: 9,959

Castleford Tigers came from behind with a late surge to snatch an unlikely point over a much improved Hull FC at the K.C. Stadium.

After suffering a humiliating defeat at Wigan last week, Hull were looking for a drastic turnaround of form as they entertained high flying Castleford Tigers who were on a four game unbeaten run.

The Black and Whites took control of the game from the start and pinned the Tigers in their own half. Jordan Rankin, Gareth Ellis and Tom Lineham were all kept out by some good scrambling defence.

Eventually the visitors finally cracked on 14 minutes when hooker Danny Houghton sent Kirk Yeaman on his way, who then created an overlap for winger Fetuli Talanoa to go over in the left hand corner.

In one of their first attacks, Castleford got back into the game when Marc Sneyd, who will be joining Hull next year, made a superb break which was finished off by Michael Shenton.

Ten minutes before the break young FC half-back Jordan Abdull stepped his way past two defenders to score a fine try. Rankin's second goal made it 12-4 and this was the score at half-time.

Within two minutes of the re-start, Kirk Dixon lost the ball just outside his own 20-metre area and the hosts made him pay as Abdull got Yeaman crashing over for their third try.

Going into the final 12 minutes of the game, Castleford were given some hope when Shenton carved out a score for Sneyd and five minutes later it was game on when Sneyd's grubber kick was picked up by left winger James Clare who sprinted over from 30-meters out to a make it 18-14.

It was now one-way traffic and the equalising score soon arrived as Clare collected another cleaver kick from Sneyd to score his second try of the game. Unfortunately Sneyd could not add the extras as Castleford claimed a second successive draw which denied Hull their first win in six games.

St Helens 44

Tries: Flanagan, Makinson 3, Masoe 2, Turner, Manu
Goals: Percival 6

Widnes Vikings 22

Tries: Phelps 2, Marsh, Hanbury
Goals: Tickle 3

Att: 11,844

St Helens stayed at the summit of Super League with a comfortable win over Widnes Vikings at Langtree Park.

Widnes were looking to secure their top eight spot and after a win over great rivals Warrington last week they were involved in another local match this time against St Helens, the League leaders.

Saints opened the score after seven minutes when Luke Walsh sent Flanagan over and as the home side pile on the pressure a second touchdown soon arrived as Tommy Makinson took Flanagan's kick to score out wide.

Now it was the turn of Big Samoan Prop Mose Masoe who in a spell of five minutes bulldozed his way over the line for a quick fire brace. Mark Percival kicked his third goal as the lead went out to 22-0.

Just before the break, Widnes had MacGraff Leuluai dispatched to the sin-bin after the team was put on a warning for persistence infringements.

It did not take long into the second half for Saints to make the extra man count as Masoe's offload allowed Jordan Turner to send Makinson under the posts.

Makinson then returned the compliment to his centre with another neatly taken try three minutes later to leave the Vikings in disarray trailing 32-0

But the visitors dusted themselves down and hit back with three tries in a blistering five-minute spell .Cameron Phelps helped himself to a quick-fire double and Stefan March raced over from 80 meters out. Danny Tickle added two goals as the deficit was cut in half.

St Helens then suffered a huge blow when scrum half Walsh was carried off on a stretcher with a lower leg injury.

Makinson restored some order for Saints as he score his hat-trick and then it was definitely game over as Willie Manu pounced on loose ball to score try number eight.

Rhys Hanbury had the last word by scoring a late consolation for the visitors but it was not their night as they just about hang on to eighth spot.

Salford Red Devils 18

Tries: Sa'u, Fages, Walne
Goals: J. Griffin 3

Leeds Rhinos 22

Tries: Hardaker, Watkins, Ablett, Ward
Goals: Hardaker 3

Att: 5,012

Leeds Rhinos remained in the top three and ended Salford Red Devils three match winning run with a hard-fought win at the A.J. Bell Stadium.

In addition to the suspended Kevin Sinfield, Leeds were also without forwards Brett Delaney, Ryan Bailey and Mitch Achurch through injury as The Red Devils gave a home debut to star Kiwi signing Kevin Locke.

Salford opened the scoring on 12 minutes when centre Junior Sa'u was just ahead of Ryan Hall to touchdown Locke ‘ kick through.

On the hour mark Full-back Zak Hardaker dived full length to ground the ball from Danny McGuire's stabbed kick as the Rhinos got on terms and soon after centre Kallum Watkins finished off a spectacular 60-metre move started by hooker Paul Aiton and continued by winger Tom Briscoe.

Hardaker added both goals but the Red Devils finished the first half the stronger side and with the last play Rangi Chase's kick to the line was grounded by Theo Fages. Josh Griffin tied the scores up at 12-12 with his second conversion.

The game turned Leeds way with two tries early into the second half. Carl Ablett twisted and turned out of a three-man tackle to score one of his trademark opportunist tries and then after a break by Liam Sutcliffe, Stevie Ward went through a huge gap in the Red Devils defence.

Hardaker kicked his third goal was the side from Headingley led 22-12.

Salford, got back into the contest when substitute forward Jordan Walne bursted onto Chase's drop-off pass to score his first try of the season underneath the posts.

Hardaker missed with a 40-metre penalty kick which would seal the win for Leeds, who had to hold on at the end as the Red Devils piled on the pressure.

So the loss for Salford looks like the end of their hopes of making the eight as for the Rhinos a top two finish is still on for them.

London Broncos 10

Tries: Atkins, Thomas
Goals: Thomas

Hull KR 62

Tries: J. Hodgson, Eden 3, Larroyer, Salter 2, Weyman 2, Gardner, Walker
Goals: Burns 9

Att: 1,084

Hull KR moved to within one point of a play-off place with an 11 try demolition of relegated London Broncos at The Hive.

With the Vikings loosing on Friday night, Rovers knew that a win in the capital would reignite their top eight hopes.

It took nine minutes for the Red and Whites to open their account and it came thanks to an offload by Adam Walker to Josh Hodgson who dotted down underneath the posts.

Matt Cook was held just short for London and this proved crucial when Greg Eden shrugged off a poor tackle from Denny Solomona to canter over the line.

Kevin Larroyer got the next and there was still time for Eden to claim his second as he outpaced the cover defence. Travis Burns kicked a penalty to go with his four goals as the side from Eats Yorkshire led 26-0 at the break.

For the poor Broncos, they got more of the dame in the second half. Liam Salter intercepted a loose pas and raced the length of the field.

London finally got on the scoreboard when Jordan Atkins squeezing in at the corner after good work by Josh Drinkwater.

Normal service resumed as Michael Weyman and Ade Gardner both got themselves four pointers. Adam Walker then burst through from close range to score try number eight.

Atkins got his second for the Broncos after good work from Ben Farrar, but this would the last of their scoring as three tries for the visitors would follow in the final five minutes of the game.

Weyman added his second after a flat pass from Burns, with Salter adding a second of his own after a David Hodgson break.

The final word was Eden's as he collected a hat-trick in a one-sided win for Rovers as they kept alive their top eight hopes as the poor Londoners suffered a 23rd successive defeat this year.

Bradford Bulls 16

Tries: Williams, Arundel, Blythe
Goals: Gale 2

Wigan Warriors 8

Tries: Manfredi 2

Att: 6,535

Relegated Bradford Bulls produced one of the shocks of the season as they downed double winners Wigan Warriors at the Provident Stadium Odsal.

This was the Bulls first game since losing their Super League status last week and they faced a huge task as they took on inform Wigan Warriors.

It only took nine minutes for the Champions to take the lead and it came thanks to good work by Matty Bowen as he played in winger Dom Manfredi who scored an unconverted try.

Bradford gradually got a foothold in the game and on 29 minutes they were back in it as slick passing got on-loan Salford winger Danny Williams over in the corner. Luke Gale's conversion edged Bradford into the lead and by the break they were in-front.

Adam O'Brien went through a gap after a scrum and superbly offloaded for Joe Arundel, to score next to the posts as the hosts led 12-4 at the interval.

In the early stages of the second half Lee Gaskell pulled off a try saving tackle on England winger Josh Charnley and then the Bulls withstood a barrage before increasing their lead.

Once again slick passing led to Matty Blythe finishing well in the corner as Bradford effectively won themselves the game.

Manfredi squeezed in for his second try which gave Wigan some hope, but the Bulls hung on to claim a first win for new Head Coach James Lowes as the Warriors suffered a first loss in three games.

Huddersfield Giants 38

Tries: Wood, Murphy, McGillvary 2, Wardle 2, Ferres
Goals: Brough 5

Catalan Dragons 16

Tries: Pelisser, Oldfield, Escare
Goals: Williams 2

Att: 4,931

Huddersfield Giants cruised to victory over Catalan Dragons at the John Smith's Stadium.

The match did not start well for both sides despite perfect conditions, there was number of enforced errors.

The Giants began to settle and a big run by prop Antonio Kaufusi led to hooker Kyle Wood opening the scoring. Aaron Murphy made it 10-0 as he punished an error by Leon Pryce.

Just before the hour mark try number three arrive as Jermaine McGillvary squeezed over at the corner for his 100th try of his career.

At last the Dragons got some possession and pulled a try back after 28 minutes when Eloi Pelissier scoring from close range. Sam Williams added the extras as the Frenchside trailed 14-6 at Half-Time.

Five minutes into the second half Joe Wardle scooped up the loose ball to sprint 50 metres for an opportunist try as the Giants increased their advantage.

Danny Brough then turned provided as his weaving run created an opening for McGillvary to go over for his second try.

Brough kicked his third goal, this time from the touchline, to make it 26-6 before the Catalans pulled a try back when centre Ben Pomeroy put his winger Michael Oldfield over at the corner.

However, this was a blip for the hosts as Wardle got his second score and then Brett Ferres forced his way over for his side's seventh touchdown of the game.

Daryl Millard broke clear to get full-back Morgan Escare over for a consolation for the Dragons as their dismal away form continued with just two wins at relegated Bradford and London to show for their away day travels this year.

Warrington Wolves 26

Tries: Evans 2, Monaghan, Ratchford, Atkins
Goals: Bridge, Ratchford 2

Wakefield Wildcats 40

Tries: Riley 3, Washbrook, Keinhorst, Mathers, Scruton
Goals: Sammut 6

Att: 9,252

Wakefield Wildcats kept alive their play-offs hopes with an unlikely win over Warrington Wolves at the H.J. Stadium.

Warrington had won their last 10 matches before their 28-14 derby defeat at Widnes as they looked to get back on track against the Wakefield Wildcats.

The Wolves flew out of the blocks and took just 30 seconds for Rhys Evans to finish off a full length of the field move after good work by Gareth O'Brien and Ben Currie.

Wakefield soon hit back and it came courtesy of Chris Riley who scored in the corner against his parent club. The Wildcats then hit the front when a break by Tim Smith led to Danny Washbrook crashing over the line. Jarrod Sammut's conversion made it 12-4 midway through the first half.

Paul McShane turned provider as Riley made it a double , but a mistake by Richard Mathers gifted Joel Monaghan an easy score as the hosts trailed 16-10 at the interval..

Warrington made another flying start to the second half with O'Brien and Currie combining again to get Evans over for hid second try.

This did not hinder the Wildcats as they continued to dominate and it was no surprise when Riley completed his hat-trick after Jimmy Keinhorst' break.

But back came the Wolves with Ben Westwood crashing over before Stefan Ratchford collected his own neat kick ahead to score near the posts and convert his own try to cut the gap to 22-20.

Andy Raleigh then superbly setup Keinhorst to touch down from Tim Smith's kick and give Wakefield a six point lead on the hour. Sammut tagged on a penalty before ex Wildcat Centre Ryan Atkins gave Warrington some hope by collecting Ratchford's kick to make it 28-26.

However, it was the West Yorkshire sides day as Mathers and Nick Scruton both scored late on to confirm a famous win which leave the Wildcats two points off a play-off spot.

First Utility Super League Ladder after Round 22

1St Helens22170570346034
2Leeds Rhinos22152559830332
3Wigan Warriors22150772036130
4Castleford Tigers22142667644930
5Warrington Wolves22140863642128
6Huddersfield Giants22132764252628
7Catalan Dragons221111058158323
8Widnes Vikings221011150762921
9Hull KR22921154754520
10Wakefield Wildcats22911244160019
11Salford Red Devils22811347055417
12Hull FC22721352648316
13Bradford Bulls2250173828424
14London Broncos2200223149870