PREVIEW 🔍 Robert Crosby looks at what to expect in Sunday night's second State of Origin clash.
6 hours ago
Hull FC kept up the pressure at the head of Tetley's Rugby Super League with a fine 30-6 defeat of reigning champions St Helens at The Kingston Communications Stadium on Monday evening. The Airlie Birds took a surprisingly comfortable two points against a Saints side which suffered its fifth defeat of the season and managed only one try.
Hull were excellent throughout, and ran in six tries, with winger Colin Best grabbing two and Steve Prescott bagging 14 points from a try and five goals.
They got off to a flying start when Richard Horne sent Kirk Yeaman in at the corner after only three minutes following a costly spill by Paul Wellens.
Hull continued to dominate the opening exchanges, with Richie Barnett breaking through from inside his own half and Chris Chester being stopped just short.
They added a second try on 14 minutes, Yeaman collecting a Paul Sculthorpe grubber after Martin Gleeson was unable to scoop the ball up, and the young centre sent Steve Prescott on an 80-yard dash to the line.
He avoided Darren Albert's chase and celebrated his 101st appearance for Hull with a gleeful dive in front of the Saints supporters who once cheered him, adding the goal for a 10-0 lead.
Prescott then stopped Sean Long as he broke through following Keiron Cunningham's offload in what was Saints' only real threat of the half.
Toa Kohe-Love was another player to benefit from poor midfield tackling by Saints when he broke clear, although Wellens tackled him, but the home side did extend their lead to 14-0 before the break.
Yeaman and Best kept the ball alive and Colin Best's one-handed offload gave young prop Glen Donkin the simplest of tries.
Saints did start the second half brightly, Chester tapping dead a Long kick before Kohe-Love was sin-binned for tackling Tim Jonkers without the ball following Paul Sculthorpe's break.
Despite being down to 12 men, it was Hull who pressed, and their pressure after two drop-outs saw good hands allow Best to cut inside three men on a dash to the line, the conversion opening up a 20-point buffer.
Saints managed to get on the scoresheet on 56 minutes, Sculthorpe and Wellens doing well to allow Chris Joynt to touch down under the posts, Sculthorpe goaling.
Prescott's tackle on Long a minute later proved crucial in keeping Hull's line intact, while Best was unable to find the supporting Horne after striding away at the other end.
Hull restored their gap on the hour when Horne, Paul Cooke and Prescott combined to send Kohe-Love in, and Best's second try - a simple 20-metre stroll after intercepting Joynt's pass - five minutes later secured the points.
They could not rest on their laurels, and Best was needed to haul down Paul Newlove late on as the Airlie Birds moved to within two points of Bradford and Leeds at the Super League summit.
"It was a very, very good performance under the circumstances," said Hull boss Shaun McRae. "Our defence allowed us to score points and put a fair bit of pressure on them.
"You won't find a bad player out there in our side in a win like that. The reflection is not in scoring 30 points but conceding six - that's very rare (against St Helens) in the modern era."
Saints coach Ian Millward said: "They played well didn't they but we came up with a lot of unforced errors.
"We put a lot of pressure on ourselves." -------------------------- Vikings 42 Giants 30 Widnes broke Huddersfield's hearts with an amazing last-ditch win at The Halton Stadium over their basement rivals. With ten minutes remaining the Giants led 30-24, but three late tries - all converted by Jules O'Neill - snatched the points for the Vikings.
It ended a series of unconvincing performances from Neil Kelly's had left them too near the bottom of the table for comfort, and opens a six-point buffer for them over bottom club Halifax.
The visitors had taken an early lead as Julian Bailey continued his good form of late with a third minute try.
Steve McNamara showed no ill effects from his recent knee operation as he added the conversion and a tenth minute penalty to extend the lead.
The home fans may have been expecting a repeat of last week's debacle at Castleford until tries from Deon Bird and Adam Hughes, both converted by O'Neill took Widnes into the lead at 12-8.
Marcus St Hilaire, who was switched to the wing to accommodate the returning Paul Reilly, drew the Giants level, before Reilly himself scored to send Tony Smith's men back in front.
Danny Frame scored for the Vikings three minutes before half time and the obligatory conversion by O'Neill meant that the scores were level heading into the interval.
The tit-for-tat scoring pattern continued after the break as first Brandon Costin crossed for Huddersfield and then Bird - on his comeback from a broken jaw - responded almost immediately for Widnes.
Costin then restored the lead for the Giants with a 68th minute try and, with McNamara's conversion, they seemed set for a famous away win.
It was not to be however, as the Giants defence once again leaked too many points for Tony Smith's satisfaction.
Ryan Sheridan's 71st minute try brought Widnes level and the momentum had swung decisively towards the Vikings.
Adam Hughes grabbed his second with four minutes to go and Deon Bird completed a personal triumph, with his hat trick try sealing the win in the final minute.
Wildcats 12 Broncos 36 London Broncos gained a much-needed win over basement rivals Wakefield Trinity Wildcats with a 36-12 success at Belle Vue on Sunday afternoon. The disappointment of their defeats to Leeds and St Helens recently was firmly put behind them as they gained their fourth win of the season - all away from home - with Dennis Moran scoring a hat-trick for the Broncos.
Chris Thorman also was superb for Tony Rea's men, scoring a try, kicking six goals and having a hand in three of their other scores.
The Broncos went ahead on six minutes, when Thorman put Tony Martin away down the right and then supported to collect his inside ball which, although knocked down, allowed him an easy try.
He added the goal, but it was another of the talented young half backs impressing in Super League this year, Jamie Rooney, who helped Wakefield to hit back on 13 minutes.
The former Featherstone scrum half sent Ian Knott through a gap, and he shrugged off Bill Peden's attempted tackle to touch down, the conversion levelling matters.
The Broncos were back in front four minutes later, Rob Purdham allowing Thorman to find Moran with the inside ball, and the makeshift full-back raced through for his first try this season.
And they moved 18-6 up soon afterwards when, after keeping the ball alive well, Neil Budworth found Russell Bawden, and the substitute prop span out of a tackle for one of the easiest tries of his career.
Jim Dymock produced a copybook cover tackle on Gareth Ellis as the Wakefield centre broke down the left, but the Wildcats did manage to pull back two points after Steve Hall pulled back Paul Handforth.
Thorman missed a penalty attempt before the break, and Rooney made the scoreline 18-10 with another two points on 51 minutes.
He added another penalty after Steele Retchless dropped on a Moran spill from an offside position, but the latter made amends in style on the hour.
Moran - normally a scrum half, had initially been named on the bench after last week's defeat at St Helens, but he was moved to full back in Andrew King's absence and raced onto Dymock's inside ball for his second try.
Thorman's goal and a penalty opened up a 26-12 lead, and the win was sealed going into the final ten minutes when Moran, Thorman and Steve Hall combined to send Nigel Roy over for their fifth try.
Colum Halpenny was denied a consolation try at the corner as Wakefield's run of wins came to an end, and Moran completed his hat-trick late on to complete a happy afternoon for the Londoners.
Broncos coach Tony Rea admitted that bouncing back from last week's heavy defeat at St Helens was important for his side.
"I thought the team was response was the key to the week," he said. "If we are going to be a good team we had to respond and I thought we did great.
"We kept it nice and simple and did all the little things right."
Wakefield football manager Shane McNally said: "It was a pretty disappointing performance, we didn't look like we turned up to play.
"We've had a bit of a heart-to-heart and I guess you can find some reasons, but they are certainly not excuses.
"We were outplayed by a better team. We have had two poor performances this year, Widnes (at Easter) and today, and hopefully we can bounce back like we did after the Widnes game."