Garry Schofield considers the lessons from the opening round of the Super League season.
Wakefield, Leigh and Hull KR were my pre-season predictions to be the bottom three in Super League come the end of the season.
There are 24 more rounds to go, with plenty of ups and downs likely, but after the first set of matches, I don’t see any reason to change my view.
There were positives for respective coaches Chris Chester, John Duffy and Tony Smith, all of whom saw spirited performances which might have brought victories.
But the bottom line is that all three lost, Wakefield and Leigh because they couldn’t hold on to leads and Hull KR because they started too slowly.
While Leigh are obviously new to Super League, it has happened with Wakefield and Hull KR before.
And while there might be the odd exception, I think it will continue to happen when these three play the traditionally stronger sides.
There are very few occasions when a team produces the perfect 80 minutes of Rugby League, but in general, playing well for 65 minutes or so earns the points.
However honest and game players are, it’s hard, both physically and mentally, to maintain enthusiasm, energy and just as importantly, concentration, for the bulk of a match.
But that’s what the top players do, and at Super League level, more often than not, small margins between the two sides make a big difference to the final scoreline.
That’s why Wigan, without ever hitting the level we know they are capable of, were able to hold their nerve and chip away at Leigh’s 18-point advantage.
It was a fantastic effort by the new boys, and it should give them a real shot of confidence, but given that start, John will be extra disappointed to have been defeated.
It will be the same for Chris at Wakefield, who have a great attacking edge and had a 16-4 lead at one stage, but couldn’t bottle Leeds up.
As for Hull KR, they did really well to come back from 28-4 down to take their match against Catalans to extra time.
But it’s glaringly obvious that even with a points machine like Ryan Hall to call on, they can’t keep giving themselves a mountain to climb.
I thought Sam Tomkins played really well for Catalans, but it’s a shame Salford’s big-name stars didn’t turn up in the same way against St Helens.
To put it bluntly, some of the Salford players were awful, and that meant Saints hardly needed to get out of first gear to claim a straightforward win.
It’s Hull KR next for Saints, and I reckon the defending champions will win by 16. I expect an improvement from Salford, but I’m going Hull by eight.
I reckon Wigan will beat Wakefield by twelve, Warrington will see off Leigh by 14 and Leeds will defeat Castleford by seven.
Huddersfield versus Catalans is another interesting one, and I’m tipping the Dragons to slay the Giants, but only by eight.
Garry Jack’s brush with death
I’m sure supporters of all clubs, not just Salford and Sheffield, the two he played for over here, will join me in wishing Garry Jack a speedy recovery after he suffered a heart attack while warming up for a martial arts class.
My old Balmain team-mate, who was right up there with Australia’s greatest fullbacks, had no pulse for eight minutes, but was saved against the odds because of the quick actions of his friend and coach Simon Farnsworth, who performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
A newspaper report quoting some of those involved makes amazing reading.
“He looked lifeless and there wasn’t a heartbeat or a pulse. I think all of us thought that we may have lost him, or had lost him,” said Simon.
Ambulance inspector Kevin McSweeney explained: “One hundred per cent, Simon’s CPR training contributed to Garry still being here, but so too did the actions of all of his classmates who led us to where he was.
“When Simon says he thinks Garry was gone, well he was, because when you have a cardiac arrest, you’re not breathing, you have no pulse and your heart’s not beating.
“You can’t wake up from a cardiac arrest on your own. Someone has to do CPR.”
It just goes to show the value of having some first-aid knowledge.
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