Castleford Tigers: A-
What a start for the Tigers; their only blip is a draw at Hull KR which came about courtesy of a last-minute Josh Mantellato goal from the sideline, which cost them victory on the opening day. They’ve gradually got better as the weeks have gone on – and if Cas fans want a real reason to be optimistic, this time 12 months ago they had zero points from a possible six, and they still finished fifth.
Catalans Dragons: D
Catalans snapped their losing start to the season by beating Leeds at the weekend, but their D grade is partly due to the fact that as well as still not being able to win in England, they’ve already slipped up at home, too. That defeat to Wigan on night one was followed by a hammering at home to Hull; the Dragons are at Wakefield this Sunday, and you feel victory is essential for them.
Huddersfield Giants: E
Robbed of their biggest names and their star talent, it’s been a grim start to 2016 for the Giants. They’ve still not got a point and were comprehensively beaten by Widnes at the weekend – and with Super League champions Leeds at Headingley on Friday night, Huddersfield need to be careful that an unconvincing start doesn’t quickly become a hugely worrying one.
Hull FC: B
They were beaten at home to Castleford last Thursday, but before that, Hull offered their fans plenty of reasons to be cheerful. They’ve won two from their first three and have looked good in doing so for the most part – especially during that victory in Perpignan. Perhaps it’s too easy in the year to be making predictions, but there’s certainly cause for optimism for the Black and Whites from the opening month.
Hull KR: E
Although they salvaged a draw against Castleford on the opening weekend, Hull KR have been beaten three times in a row since then, and they’re now without a head coach following Chris Chester’s sacking last week. They have the daunting task of travelling to table-toppers Widnes this weekend too – and still without captain Terry Campese, things already look grim for the Robins in 2016.
Leeds Rhinos: E-
The champions are rooted to the bottom of the table after the opening month – and if they’re not careful, things could get worse in the next fortnight. They face Huddersfield this Friday in what seems like an enormous game for both sides, before travelling to Wigan next weekend. Could 0-3 become 0-5 before next week is over? Leeds need bodies back quickly, and they need to start picking up points.
Salford Red Devils: C+
Two wins and two losses from the opening four games represents a decent enough start, but the style of play Salford have offered up during those games pushes them up from C to C+. Robert Lui looks a star at the heartbeat of their team, whilst the Red Devils came desperately close to upsetting Wigan at the DW Stadium last weekend. This Thursday’s clash v unbeaten Warrington looks like a real yardstick for their top eight credentials.
St Helens: C
It’s certainly been up and down for St Helens so far. There was a victory on night one against Huddersfield, a hammering against Salford the following week before getting back to league matters last weekend with a much-needed win against Hull KR. Keiron Cunningham has been chopping and changing his team a lot in the opening month due to a myriad of circumstances, which hasn’t helped matters, too.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: D
In terms of points, things don’t look great for Wakefield. However, the solitary win they have was accompanied by three incredibly hard-fought performances – and that narrow loss to Widnes on the opening weekend now looks a lot more optimistic, given their start to the year. If they can beat Catalans this Sunday and move to two wins from five, that will represent a decent enough start for Brian Smith’s men.
Warrington Wolves: A
Three wins from three, phenomenal defending and a victory at the home of the defending champions. Things look rosy in the garden of Tony Smith and Warrington at the minute, and rightly so. Their biggest hindrance of last year, the plethora of injuries they suffered, hasn’t bitten them as hard in the opening month here, and the Wolves look bonafide title contenders already, without doubt. Add in the form of Chris Sandow, and you’ve got the recipe for plenty of optimism.
Widnes Vikings: A-
The Vikings may have lost a game which could have dragged their grade down further from A to A-, but the fact they’re top of the table after the opening month certainly does a lot to overlook that loss at Salford. The rugby they’re playing is thrilling and entertaining; Kevin Brown looks as good as ever, and they’ve already thumped two of last year’s top four. The top eight looks more than a realistic goal for Denis Betts’ side right now – they should be delighted with their opening month’s work.
Wigan Warriors: A
The fact Wigan and Warrington are both three from three could perhaps mean they get the same grade – but there was a temptation to bump the Warriors up to A+. There are pros and cons of the first month; the fact they have won their first three games without some big names is to be highly commended, but they’ve looked unconvincing in patches, and they’re now without Michael McIlorum for the whole of the season following his injury in the World Club Series. Can Wigan keep it up?