TotalRL’s Top 10: Biggest shocks of 2017
In the first of our new series looking back at the 2017 season, we look back at some of the most surprising results of the 2017 season.
10. Featherstone Rovers 9-10 Rochdale Hornets – March 5th
Rochdale entered their game at the LD Nutrition Stadium on the back of a decent opening month to the season.
Victories over Dewsbury and Rochdale had put them top of the table, although they suffered subsequent defeats to Hull Kingston Rovers and Halifax.
They turned up to face Jon Sharp’s unbeaten Rovers side as outsiders, however, a dogged effort that combined resilience and determination saw them come out on top.
Danny Bridge and Chris Ulugia scored a try apiece for the two teams, and although an Anthony Thackeray drop goal had given Fev a slender lead, a penalty goal from Lewis Palfrey, his third conversion of the afternoon, gave Alan Kilshaw’s side the spoils.
9. Gloucestershire All Golds 46-22 Keighley Cougars – March 12th
Since the admission of expansion teams into League 1, there has been a north-south divide evident in the league table.
Over the years, that has gradually changed, with the All Golds enjoying more success than most of their peers.
The rise of Lee Greenwood’s side was slow but evident, however, it earned far more exposure when they hammered Keighley in the second round of the League 1 campaign.
Mo Agoro scored four tries as the All Golds secured what will now go down as one of their finest ever victories.
8. Leigh Centurions 50-34 Wigan Warriors – June 8th
June 8th was a date with a big circle around it on the calendars of many Leigh supporters from the moment the fixture list was revealed.
It had been a long time since the Leythers had played Wigan in competitive action and even longer since they’d defeated them in a meaningful game. Leigh hadn’t triumphed against their old foe since 1984.
However, this match made it more than worth the wait, as Neil Jukes’ side hit the half-century.
The only reason this doesn’t feature higher up the list is due to Wigan’s terrible form leading into the match.
7. Leeds Rhinos 12-31 Huddersfield Giants – April 27th
A coupon buster is you’ve ever seen one, very few predicted the Giants would leave Headingley with two points.
Why? Because the Giants had been little short of awful in the build-up to the match. They entered the game on the back of a nine-match winless run, including a humiliating Challenge Cup defeat to Championship minnows Swinton.
Leeds, meanwhile, had won seven of their last eight games and were strong favourites.
But Huddersfield have generally been a bogey side for the Rhinos, and they prevailed again after a much-improved display in which Jake Mamo shone once again.
6. St Helens 45-0 Hull FC – May 20th
As Magic Weekend approached, the Black and Whites were flying high after three wins from their last four.
Saints, on the other hand, had lost three of their last four and were without a coach.
But Justin Holbrook had been appointed as head coach, and although he wasn’t officially in charge, he had the desired effect.
The Saints were outstanding and decimated Lee Radford’s side in a completely one-sided contest.
Holbrook couldn’t have asked for a better start.
5. Dewsbury Rams 34-22 Toulouse Olympique – June 23rd
There’s no other way of putting it. Dewsbury, during the first-half of 2017, were terrible.
Even by the time they welcomed Toulouse at the end of June, the Rams were still well in the relegation battle despite improving under Neil Kelly.
So when Toulouse, who were strong favourites to make the top four arrived, it looked likely to be a formality.
Anything but. Lucas Walshaw scored two tries as the Rams picked up a massive victory that had huge ramifications at both ends of the table.
The result had huge implications for both teams. Dewsbury would go on a major winning streak that saw them ease their way out of danger, while Toulouse suffered an almighty collapse that cost them a place in the Qualifiers.
4. Leigh Centurions 16-20 Hull KR – August 20th
While this result doesn’t perhaps warrant the highest ranking on shock value alone, it was the impact it had on the competition and the future of both clubs that place it so high.
The Robins had yet to convince anyone they were capable of an instant return to Super League after suffering back-to-back defeats at the end of the Championship campaign before stuttering to victory over Halifax in the first Qualifiers outing.
However, they turned it on when it mattered as influential hooker Shaun Lunt bagged a brace to move them a massive stride closer to Super League.
3. Castleford Tigers 66-10 Leeds Rhinos – March 2nd
It’s rare that a result truly stuns everyone to their core.
On a damp evening in March, Castleford managed to do that.
In one of the most humbling evenings the Rhinos have tasted, they were completely obliterated by Daryl Powell’s Classy Cas.
The Tigers ran riot, with Greg Eden and Greg Minikin both scoring hat-tricks.
At this stage, the Tigers were still only title-winning pretenders. This result, however, was symbolic of the rise they experienced during the year.
While many believe their ability to reach the Grand Final was the true test of their credentials, that night at The Jungle may prove to be the one people remember as the night the Tigers truly arrived.
2. York City Knights 26-16 Toronto Wolfpack – July 30th
The reality is, nobody ever thought this was possible.
The Wolfpack had destroyed and dismantled all their League 1 rivals at will.
Not one club had truly been able to last the pace with the Wolfpack, who by this point were already dead certainties for the title.
So when they arrived at York it was to be expected that they would cruise to victory again.
But it didn’t turn out that way. The Knights were just the better team on the day. They stormed into an 18-0 lead at half-time and managed to fend off a fightback to secure a fantastic victory.
1. Huddersfield Giants 24-28 Swinton Lions – April 23rd
Some will tell you the Challenge Cup has lost its touch.
Why? There are many contributing factors, the nay-sayers claim. One of those is that there aren’t any shocks in the competition.
Nobody told Swinton that.
The Lions, floundering at the bottom of the Championship, weren’t given a chance. Nor should they have been in truth.
Yet, as the game developed and the Lions stuck in the battle, there was a growing belief they could do the unthinkable. Trailing 18-16 at half-time, an early score after the break put them ahead, only for the Giants to hit back through Ollie Roberts.
That left the score 24-22. Even then, nobody really thought the Lions would win.
But Luke Waterworth scored minutes from the end to shock the John Smith’s Stadium, and they held on for the most unlikely of victories, and the biggest shock of the year.