Friday Night ESL Action- Review

Warriors 20 Rhinos 30 Leeds Rhinos bounced back from their defeat to Bradford Bulls and returned to the top of Super League - for 48 hours at least - with a 30-20 win at Wigan in a scintillating clash on Friday night. Wigan eased into a 14-0 lead early on before Leeds cut the lead to two points at the break, but a nip-and-tuck second half saw tries to Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow and ex-Warrior Gary Connolly take the Rhinos home.

Wigan started well enough, with Danny Sculthorpe breaking through inside the opening minute and Brett Dallas going close at the corner following Nick Graham's chip.

Leeds - who had lost their unbeaten record at Bradford last week - also had a chance to score from a kick on nine minutes, but Shaun Briscoe was just able to kick the ball out of Mark Calderwood's grasp as he looked to touch down.

Briscoe, standing in for Kris Radlinski, then produced an excellent tackle to stop Francis Cummins from grounding the ball before the young Wiganer himself grabbed the opening try.

He was first to an Adrian Lam kick which bounced off the base of the post on 13 minutes to scoop up the ball and touch down under the posts, giving captain Andy Farrell an easy goal.

Five minutes later, Briscoe had his second try, with Graham breaking out of Chev Walker's tackle and finding Sculthorpe before the prop produced a superb around-the-man offload to create the four-pointer.

Farrell added the conversion and a 24th minute penalty to create a 14-0 gap, but the loss of Terry Newton, who suffered a dizzy spell as the result of a virus, and Sculthorpe, with a shoulder injury, disrupted Wigan's momentum.

Leeds burst into life on 26 minutes, Willie Poching and Calderwood creating the position for the ball to be moved left, and Keith Senior grubbered through for Cummins to touch down.

Sinfield added the conversion, and a magnificent individual try from Calderwood on 38 minutes brought them back to within two points at the break.

Calderwood, Super League's leading try scorer, took Connolly's pass on his own 20 metre mark near the touchline before cutting infield, past Adrian Lam and Danny Tickle before straightening up.

He then raced up the middle, leaving Terry O'Connor and Briscoe trailing in his wake on a brilliant dash to the posts.

Leeds could have hit the front a minute after the break, but Cummins was unable to collect a bouncing ball with the line begging, and Wigan grabbed the first try of the second period four minutes later.

Lam again grubbered through on the last, with Connolly unable to clear the ball dead under pressure from Graham before substitute Martin Aspinwall touched down.

Aspinwall was fresh on the field, after replacing Brett Dallas when the winger suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury, but his try, and Farrell's goal, gave the hosts a 20-12 lead.

Leeds again closed the gap to two, when McGuire took Diskin's pass and evaded Graham before darting to the line from close range.

The introduction of Rob Burrow gave the Rhinos added spark and, after Sinfield forced a drop out, the young half back shot over from dummy half to send them in front for the first time in the game on the hour.

Sinfield's goal gave them a 24-20 lead, and a try to Connolly on 65 minutes saw the full back secure two points against the team who released him at the end of last season.

McGuire, Senior and Andrew Dunemann kept the ball alive, with Connolly taking the latter's inside ball and stepping past Briscoe to touch down under the posts.

Sinfield remained faultless with the boot, while Calderwood denied Ricky Bibey with a good tackle to jolt the ball free ten minutes from time and prevent a comeback.

Even the sin-binning of Leeds' Ryan Bailey and Wigan's Terry Newton, after the duo traded punches, failed to help the home side hit back, with Sinfield's tackle on O'Connor over the line preventing the Wigan prop from grounding as the Rhinos sealed the points. --------------------------

Halifax 10 Hull 60 Hull FC kept up the pressure on Bradford and Leeds at the top of Tetley's Rugby Super League and piled the misery on Halifax with a 60-10 win at The Shay on Friday night. Both sides had been docked two points this week for Salary Cap breaches, and it is the Halifax side who remain without a point at the foot of the table after an 11th consecutive loss.

Hull, meanwhile, remain in touch with the leaders following a comprehensive, ten-try win.

They went in front after a minute when Richie Barnett crossed after Steve Prescott had broken through, the latter adding the first of ten goals in a faultless display of kicking.

Ryan Clayton went close for Halifax before Prescott himself touched down on 13 minutes following Paul Cooke's kick.

Barnett added the third try of the game from Richard Horne's pass, and Adam Maher grabbed the fourth after Chris Chester and Horne combined to open up a 24-0 lead inside as many minutes.

Andrew Brocklehurst was the second Halifax player to have a try ruled out, but Prescott's second - a superb 60-metre burst - opened up a 30-0 interval lead, although Halifax did hit back with a try from Andrew Frew six minutes after the restart.

The winger had been switched to centre following injuries to Stuart Donlan and Danny Halliwell - two of five absent regulars for Halifax - but took Johnny Lawless' pass to dive in, with Dane Dorahy converting.

But that merely stemmed Hull's tide, with five tries in a 20-minute spell from the 53rd minute onwards sealing the win.

Firstly, young centre Kirk Yeaman crossed after Barnett took a Cooke bomb, before loan prop Ewan Dowes celebrated his second game for the Airlie Birds with a try.

Chris Chester then added a brace of scores, with in-form winger Colin Best crossing in-between for his third try inside a week and to cross the whitewash for the sixth successive game.

Halifax battled to the end, with Johnny Lawless scoring a 76th minute consolation, but it was another long night for the Shay outfit as Hull's good run continued in style. ---------------------------- Tigers 32 Giants 18 Castleford Tigers inflicted a sixth successive defeat on Huddersfield Giants and kept up their own good run with a 32-18 win at The Jungle on Friday night. Huddersfield have now not won since Good Friday, and saw their hopes of breaking that ended when they went 12-0 down inside the opening quarter and 32-6 behind inside the hour.

It was Castleford's third successive win, and took them above Wigan into fourth after the Warriors lost to Leeds Rhinos.

Centre Michael Eagar crossed twice in the opening ten minutes of the game, Danny Orr, Mitch Healey and Tom Saxton combining to send him over on four minutes before Orr put him over for his second.

Wayne Bartrim added a goal before his 19th minute penalty increased the cushion to 12-0.

Papua New Guinean half back Stanley Gene got Huddersfield off the mark on 22 minutes when Paul March sent him over, Steve McNamara converting.

But Danny Orr's try restored a 12-point lead at the break, veteran prop Dean Sampson and Michael Smith creating the score after Jonny Hepworth had a four-pointer ruled out for a knock on.

Eagar sent Darren Rogers in to push the hosts further ahead on 46 minutes and Bartrim himself crossed on 53 minutes to create a 28-6 advantage.

Andy Johnson pushed them out to 32-6 before Huddersfield's fighting spirit saw them stage a comeback in the final quarter of an hour.

Firstly, Julian Bailey continued his good run of form with a try, and Paul March added another score on 70 minutes to set up a tense finish, McNamara adding the goals.

But it was a bridge too far for the Giants as Castleford consolidated their place inside Super League's top six.

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