Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
NEATH PORT TALBOT STEELERS 16 CARDIFF DEMONS 18
While their respective rugby union and football sides were enjoying big day's out, in the only Welsh Conference Premier rugby league match of the day in the opening round of the season, Neath Port Talbot Steelers and Cardiff Demons fought out a close match with the Demons eventually winning 18-16.
It was 12-0 to Cardiff in as many minutes thanks to a second minute Andrew Bradshaw try and two from Gareth Holtham on seven and 11 minutes.
But Steelers pulled the score back to 10-12 by half-time through two Chris Cornelius tries on 21 and 39 minutes, the second converted by Daniel Blethyn.
Cardiff extended their lead to 18-10 on 52 minutes through player-chairman Bradshaw's second try with Shane Goddard converting in a controversial kick that hit the post and bounced over with only one touch-judge putting his flag up.
Steelers hit back on 72 minutes with a try from former Crusader Scott O'Kelly. Blethyn kicked the conversion to put the Steelers to within two but the Demons defence held out for the final few minutes to secure the win.
CO-OPERATIVE RUGBY LEAGUE CONFERENCE NATIONAL
HUDDERSFIELD UNDERBANK RANGERS 26 CELTIC CRUSADERS COLTS 26 at The Cross
A try three minutes from time, by Rangers loose forward Darren Hawkyard, meant that the unbeaten league leaders surrendered their first points of the season, in an engrossing clash played in difficult conditions.
Crusaders have made a terrific start to the campaign and it looked as though they would secure their sixth successive victory when winger Josh Hannam raced over for them to take the lead for the first time in the 68th minute.
Huddersfield were not to be denied a deserved share of the spoils, though, as the highly impressive Hawkyard crashed over after receiving a pass from hooker John Birt, to level the scores at the end of a highly entertaining encounter.
Constant drizzle greeted the teams at kick off and Rangers adapted to the testing conditions the better.
Exerting early pressure, Birt scooted from acting half back, sold an outrageous dummy and crossed for the opening try.
Graham Charlesworth could not add the extras on a poor afternoon for Underbank