The five rugby league games you must watch in July

July sees the completion of this season’s State of Origin in the southern hemisphere and the start of the NRLW, while in the northern hemisphere we have some compelling league games to watch. Here are the games we recommend you look out for this month.

Friday, 12th July
Betfred Super League Round 17
Wigan Warriors v St Helens
The Brick Community Stadium, Wigan (8.00pm, Sky Sports Action)

The top two teams in Super League in 2024 are clearly Wigan and St Helens and this year Wigan have eclipsed their great rivals by winning both the World Club Challenge and the Betfred Challenge Cup while already holding the League Leaders’ Shield and the Super League title.

So there is little doubt that Saints will be out to make a big impression in front of what will probably be a sold-out clash at the recently renamed The Brick Community Stadium.

The two clubs, as is so often the case, are battling right at the top of the table. Saints won this year’s Good Friday clash between the two clubs at the Totally Wicked Stadium and they will be determined to impose themselves once again in what is undoubtedly the greatest derby in British rugby league.

Wednesday, 17th July
Ampol State of Origin Game 3
Queensland v New South Wales
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane (11.05am, Sky Sports Action)

Queensland won the opening game of this season’s State of Origin series, hammering New South Wales 38-10 at Sydney’s Accor Stadium in a controversial match that saw the dismissal of Blues centre Joseph Suaali’i for a high tackle on Queensland fullback Reece Walsh that put Walsh out of the game after just seven minutes.

Since then, there have been accusations and denials about whether Walsh had been targeted by the Blues. But all the Maroons were battered and bruised after the second game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, as a first-half blitz by the Blues saw them triumph 38-18.

With the scores level, Suncorp Stadium will be packed on the 17th to roar the Queenslanders to victory with a wonderful climax guaranteed for this year’s series.

Saturday 20th July
Betfred Championship Round 16
Toulouse Olympique v Wakefield Trinity
Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse (5.00pm BST)

At the time of writing Wakefield Trinity have a proud undefeated record in this season’s Championship competition. And if they are going to go through the season undefeated, this game in France will perhaps be the one that tests them to the limit.

Toulouse had a shaky start to the season, losing four matches early on, but subsequently they have found their form, registering some impressive victories, both at home and away, with a notable scalp being Doncaster, who they beat 52-0 at home.

On the same weekend Trinity had a difficult encounter against a resurgent Widnes Vikings, earning a 20-18 away victory. Jake Shorrocks has been hitting top form at halfback for Toulouse and his battle against Trinity’s Luke Gale will be well worth watching, with hopefully a big crowd in attendance.

Thursday 25th July
Telstra Women’s Premiership
Newcastle Knights v Sydney Roosters
McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle (10.45am, Sky Sports)

The NRLW season will begin with the Champions Newcastle Knights hosting one of their greatest rivals at the McDonald Jones Stadium.

The NRLW is perhaps the greatest success story of rugby league in the modern world, having turned fully professional with ten clubs competing for the trophy and Newcastle Knights the current champions, having defeated Gold Coast Titans 24-18 in last season’s Grand Final.

English star Georgia Roche played a key role at stand-off in the Knights’ success last year and in the season opener she will line up directly against Australian international Tarryn Aiken, who has joined the Roosters from Brisbane Broncos during the close-season to play alongside other superstars such as centres Jessica Sergis and Isabelle Kelly.

Women’s rugby league has generated some tremendously impressive viewing figures in Australia and that trend is likely to continue with an opening game of such rich promise.

Sunday 21st July
Betfred League One, Round 17
Cornwall v Workington Town
Memorial Ground, Penryn, Cornwall (1.00pm)

It’s arguable whether the distance between Cornwall and Workington is the longest journey made on land by any British Rugby League club. The distance is shown as 469.8 miles by the Automobile Association, while the distance from Newcastle’s Gateshead International Stadium is 469.9 miles.

Nonetheless, Workington will travel to Cornwall at the height of the holiday season hoping to repeat their 34-16 victory from last season on the same weekend, when they took 100 supporters with them to enjoy the delights of the Cornish riviera.

The Choughs are slowly establishing themselves in the far southwest of England and they will be keen to try and establish a late run for the playoffs against a Town team that has looked vulnerable this season. If the sun shines, the Memorial Ground could be a great place to be in July.

First published in Rugby League World magazine, Issue 498 (July 2024)

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