League Express looks back at the latest round of match action… and ahead to the next
Fullback to the future
Who is going to take the position at Wigan and Huddersfield going forward?
Wigan coach Adrian Lam had Bevan French, last year’s Super League Dream Team fullback, to call on against Castleford but elected to keep in-form Zak Hardaker in the position and play the Aussie ace on the wing.
The outcome? A try for Hardaker and two for French, above, in a 22-12 home win which made it four from four in the league ahead of Thursday’s trip to Hull.
Over at Huddersfield, coach Ian Watson, who is without Ash Golding through injury, went with Lee Gaskell at fullback rather than stand-off and paired Aussies Jack Cogger and Aidan Sezer, another Dream Team member, in the halves against St Helens.
His side went down 18-10 to the leaders and are still seeking their first league victory.
Should Gaskell partner Sezer at home to Leeds on Sunday?
Trinity’s busy treatment room
Are Wakefield the unluckiest clubs in Super League when it come to injuries?
Leeds fans may provide a compelling counter-argument.
But Trinity coach Chris Chester, already without Jacob Miller (knee), star winger Tom Johnstone (concussions) and hooker Josh Wood (hamstring), saw versatile Ryan Hampshire sustain a broken jaw during the 20-14 defeat at Hull, Wakefield’s fourth loss in as many league matches, while fullback Max Jowitt suffered a knock to the head.
At least Chester witnessed a battling performance at the KCOM Stadium, and he is now preparing for Friday’s home clash with Catalans, when Trinity will try to avenge a 26-6 Challenge Cup third-round defeat by the Dragons.
Glass half empty for Rhinos
As mentioned previously, Leeds have had plenty of injury problems this season.
And how much does coach Richard Agar, above, particularly need halfbacks Rob Lui (quad muscle) and Luke Gale (broken thumb) back in tandem to provide that crucial creative spark?
Kyle Eastmond and Richie Myler paired up away to Hull KR, but couldn’t help the Rhinos stave off a third successive league defeat and fourth in all competitions.
For Rovers, 26-6 winners, it was a second successive success and after beating one of his former clubs, coach Tony Smith is aiming to get the better of another at Warrington on Saturday.
Red Devils up, but are they running?
Richard Marshall has his first win as Super League head coach after Salford’s 34-8 success at home to Leigh.
But it took a while for his side to get going in an error-strewn contest.
Basement side Leigh held an 8-6 lead at half-time, but couldn’t maintain their intensity, and coach John Duffy admitted: “I think our heads went and it’s a massive challenge for us to sort that mentality out.”
While encouraged, Salford supporters won’t be getting to carried away just yet, and Friday’s follow-up home game against Castleford will provide a better gauge of the progress being made by the former Halifax coach.
Is the Championship a two-horse race?
With six points apiece, Featherstone and Toulouse are setting the early pace in the second tier.
Rovers romped to a 48-14 home victory over Whitehaven while Toulouse travelled – what else can they do to get a game at the moment? – to Halifax and won 44-34.
The French side’s haul includes the 24-0 win over London awarded after the Broncos, along with Toulouse the only full-time team in the division, forfeited the match after deciding against crossing the Channel.
Featherstone were due to visit Toulouse this Saturday, but because of ongoing government guidelines due to the pandemic, no part-time clubs are currently visiting France, so the game can’t go ahead.
The likes of York and London were expected to challenge strongly, and that may still materialise.
But at this stage, they each have just the one win, York’s coming at the expense of bottom club Swinton on Sunday.