That was a great weekend of rugby league, the two games that stood out were the Castleford v St Helens and Melbourne v Brisbane games. Both games were played at a high intensity with the Super League game perhaps showing the a more attack minded version of the game, while the NRL game definitely showed the awesome defensive capabilities that Rugby League can conjure up. The Brisbane defence was something special, they withstood over 12 drop outs and an insane amount of repeated sets and forced the much vaunted Melbourne attack to seemingly run out of ideas. The fitness and mental toughness on display in this game really highlighted what top class rugby is all about, to continually put your body on the line set after set like those players did was an almost super human effort.
The Castleford game was another excellent game, full of drama and it was a more back and forth contest with both teams playing well and showing a lot of character. Ben Roberts was a creative fullback who contributed a lot to the game with his kicking, and also added the cherry on top with his drop goal to clinch the win for his team.
One for thing that stood out for me in the game was the question is Daryl Powell the best recruiter in rugby league at the moment? He took on players like Finn, Roberts, Solomona, Moore, etc and has built a successful team out of these seemingly random parts. He was very good at Featherstone at recognising the potential of players from the teams in that division such as Finn, Briggs, Tonks and he also brought in Johnny Hepworth from Irish rugby union who added to his team. He is a coach that really gets the best out of the players he inherits and those less than stellar names he recruits. With the signing of Gadwin Springer and talk of Ben Crookes it will be good to see how those two progress under the tutelage of the master motivator. Perhaps clubs like Salford could learn from the way Powell goes about his business?
There were improved performances from Salford and Wakefield, after the way Wakefield performed and given the time that Brian Smith will have to further influence the squad, can anyone see them been relegated after the split? The Super League clubs will be too strong I feel for the championship top 4 by the end of the season. There could be some hard times ahead for Leigh especially who seem to be gambling on promotion, for either of Halifax, Featherstone or Sheffield, the middle 8 will be enjoyable for their fans and much needed bolster to the clubs coffers from increased crowds and good exposure for the clubs. Bradford and London the other team challenging the top 4 should be able to withstand not been promoted and could use the extra time to further rebuild after recent hard times. For one thing it promises to be a far more exciting end to the season than recent years and lets hope at least one of the championship sides gains promotion.
With news of Toulouse declaring their intention to join League One and ongoing talks about a Canadian side also joining, the game is starting to spread further afield. It was good to see victories Coventry and Newcastle and a close defeat for Gloucester away at Barrow. League One is currently been dominated by the northern teams but hopefully the new comers will be in the mix for promotion and the southern teams will have grown from the experiences this year.
Finally with the announcement of Ryan Hinchcliffe to Huddersfield and Pritchard to Hull for next season alongside Inu joining the Catalans, are we about to see an improvement in the overseas players joining Super League? They might be over 30 but both Hinchcliffe and Pritchard are quality players and with the marquee player announcement there will surely be more to follow. With Sandow and Widdop been two of the names been thrown around, those five players alone would contribute a lot to improving the league and it will be very interesting who else is announced as signing in the coming months.
Other talking points were the excellent attendance and game in the origin match in Melbourne
Hull K.R dominating a poor Warrington side, what’s going wrong at Warrington? Is Tony Smith starting to feel the pressure?
Sneyd’s terrible tackle on Mcguire and Sheffield’s treatment of Mcnally.
Thanks for reading and lets hope this week is as interesting as the last.