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First Utility Super League XIX - Round 24 Review
So with just four round left of the regular season we saw one of the biggest shocks in Super League history as relegated London Broncos claimed their first win in nearly year over high flying Leeds Rhinos.
Elsewhere Wigan claimed a point at the death over Hull Kr and St Helens moved three points clear at the summit of the table with a comfortable win over Wakefield Wildcats, as the just four points separate the top six.
But the fired up Rovers and led by thier impressive forwards they took the game to Wigan and after building up the pressure on 18 minutes Craig Hall touched down with inches to spare.
After missing more guilt edge chances, Hull KR took the lead just before the break when Half-back Kris Keating and Travis Burns combined to get second rower Jason Chan over for a try and Burns' conversion put his side 10-4 ahead at Half-time.
However, it took until 72 minutes for Wigan to get going. Green setup skipper Sean O'Loughlin as the gap was down to 14-10 with Smith's conversion.
Smith could not add the extras as the Warriors made do with a point
Salford Red Devils gave themselves an outside chance of making the play-offs by seeing off seven placed Catalan Dragons at the A.J. Bell Stadium.
On the half hour try number three arrived as Locke made it a double and on the stroke of half-time good work by Chase got Salford into the position for Evalds to touchdown in the corner as the hosts led 22-4.
Catalan needed to score next and they did early into the second half when Greg Mounis scored all important try but French international Theo Fages hit back for the home side to effectively win them the game.
Saints took an early lead when Mark Percival kicked the ball through for Tommy Makinson to touch down.
There was the worrying sight of England hooker James Roby leaving the field on 15 minutes, but he was able to return with his leg strapped at the start of the second half.
It was all the hosts but despite thier dominance their next score did not arrive until the thirty minute mark when quick hands from Wellens got Josh Jones over the line. Percival kicked his second goal to make it 12-0.
The Wildcats finished the better and deservedly got on the scoreboard just before the break when Danny Washbrook scored from close range. Jarrod Sammut's goal cut the gap at the interval to 12-6.
McDonnell got his debut try just after the restart but back came Wakefield when Scrum-half Tim Smith ‘ kick was taken by Richard Owen to touch down.
However, Saints would not be denied and took the game away from the visitors with three tries in a twelve minute spell. Sia Soliola forced his way through from close range for the first and then a break by James Roby led to McDonnell getting a double.
Jones then added his second and, although Lee Gilmour grabbed a late consolation against his old club, Saints had the last word with Makinson completing his brace to keep his side in pole position with just three games left in the regular season.
With one eye on next week's big game, Cas coach Daryl Powell made nine changes to the side that won the semi-final against Widnes, giving a first start to full-back Ben Reynolds and debuts to young forwards Brad Day and Will Maher off the bench.
Castleford dominated the opening quarter, forcing three goal-line drop-outs and repeated sets, but they could not breach the Wolves line.
In one of thier first attacks, Warrington took the lead when Ryan Atkins took advantage of a good kick from Gareth O'Brien and then the young halfback got on the scoresheet himself as he supported a long-range break by Michael Monaghan to make it 12-0.
Chris Bridge crashed through some poor defence to score a third Warrington try on 22 minutes and kicked his third conversion before leaving the field with an ankle injury.
On 26 minutes, the West Yorkshire side hit back when left winger James Clare took Jamie Ellis' long pass and produced a superb one-handed finish at the corner to cut the lead to 18-4, which was the half time score.
However, this was as close as they got with the Wolves upping the tempo to pull away. Rhys Evans took Simon Grix's cut-out pass to cross at the corner and prop Anthony England charged onto Mickey Higham's short pass to crash over by the posts.
Stefan Ratchford added both conversions to make it 30-10 and then got one himself on 65 minutes.
As Castleford began to tire, Joel Monaghan and Evans both went over in the last seven minutes as Warrington kept up the pressure on the top three as we enter the business end of the season.
After wins over champions Wigan and local rivals Leeds in their previous two games , the Bulls came into this one full of confidence.
It took four minutes for The Black and Whites to take the lead, good work by Dean Hadley put Jamie Shaul over with Joe Westerman adding the extras. The next score arrive on 17 minutes as skipper Gareth Ellis touchdown from close range.
After soaking up the pressure, the Bulls got some luck when a Luke Gale kick was allowed to bounce and on hand was Joe Arundel, on a season-long loan from Hull, to send Jamie Foster racing over on the left to score.
Just before the break the gap was down to 12-10 when a Lee Gaskell break sent Arundel over to score against his parent club. This gaveBradford the lift they needed and they came out firing in the second half.
Gaskell created chance for Adam Sidlow to power over as the hosts scored the first of three tries in an eight minute spell. Arundel then dummied his way over for a second try and then Gaskell split the defence open to gift on loan Black and white forward Jay Pitts a touchdown against his parent club. Foster kicked all three to make it 28-12.
Ellis grabbed a try back for Hull, but Danny Addy gave Bradford a cushion by scoring the hosts sixth try with ten minutes to go.
Brough's conversion made it 6-0 and the Vikings got back into the game as a result of a string of penalties, Danny Tickle weaved his way through the middle to score their first try.
Tickle levelled the scores with the conversion and edged his side in front with a penalty goal but Huddersfield struck on the stroke of half-time with a spectacular try.
Both sides struggled with the blustery conditions and it took until the 64th minute for the next score to arrive and it came when star man Brough setup the play for Jermaine McGillvary to touchdown.
The Giants made sure of the win when prop Antonio Kaufusi took Brough's pass to power his way over for their fourth try on 69 minutes.
Widnes full-back Rhys Hanbury pulled a try back seven minutes from the end but it was Huddersfield ‘ day as hooker Shaun Lunt forced his way over from dummy half and Brough kicked his fourth goal to give the Giants the win.
The visitors, with one eye on next weekend's Wembley showpiece, made nine changes from their semi-final defeat of Warrington, including giving Super League debuts to Ben White, Ashley Handley and Ashton Golding.
But the under-strength Rhinos were still fastest out of the blocks with Zak Hardaker's long pass allowing Kallum Watkins to score inside two minutes. Just four minutes later they had a second score, Hardaker again the provider, keeping the ball alive for Josh Walters to crash over.
Liam Sutcliffe then ran in a third try on 12 minutes after good work from Watkins. The Londoners finally got themselves on the board midway through the half as Jordan Atkins dotted down at the corner. And then the Broncos then moved within a score two minutes later as Joe Keyes got himself on the scoresheet.
Leeds withstood the mini revival and extended thier lead on the half-hour mark with Mitch Achurch charging over after a good passing move. Just before the break Hardaker added another as the side from Headingley led 26-8.
Mike McMeeken added another before Achurch made it a double by showing great pace for a back rower to touchdown from about 50-meters out
Trailing 36-20 going into the final quarter, London stunned Leeds with three unanswered tries. Scott Moore rounded off excellent work from McMeeken and Ben Farrar for the first then enter teenager Keyes.
The young half-back help himself to two more as he completed a hat-trick. Josh Drinkwater converted all three and then added a penalty as the Broncos claimed a first win since last September.
First Utility Super League after Round 24
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