ANDY SHARPE takes a look back to the weekend’s Rugby League action
JOHN BATEMAN WAS LUCKY NOT TO BE SERIOUSLY HURT
Anyone who saw the Wigan Warriors win over Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at the Rapid Solicitors stadium on Thursday night will realise how close the Warriors forward John Bateman came to being seriously injured.
Bateman followed a break by centre Anthony Gelling who, after straining his hamstring, threw the ball over his shoulder with Bateman then kicking on and chasing.
In his desperation to score the try Bateman threw himself at the ball, but missed it as it went dead. His momentum on a greasy pitch took him beyond the dead ball line and headlong into exposed posts just 10 yards from the pitch.
Fortunately, it was Bateman’s left shoulder that took the impact, but if it had been six inches to the right, and the contact had been directly with his head, the consequences could have been much more serious.
In the days when player welfare is mentioned almost every other day, it was surprising that these exposed posts were not either removed or, at the least, padded to ensure no one could be hurt if they did make contact with them. It was a lucky escape for the young forward.
WE’VE NEVER HAD SO MANY GOOD ENGLISH FULLBACKS
I can’t recall a time when we have had so many high class English performers in the fullback position.
Sam Tomkins is the current incumbent in the Test side, but he is facing stiff competition that is currently led by Leeds Rhinos fullback Zak Hardaker.
But if you look throughout the league most sides have a ‘no. 1’ who adds an extra dimension to the attacking element of their side.
Stefan Ratchford has played there all this season for Warrington Wolves and was outstanding in their win at Headingley on Friday night.
Jonny Lomax of St. Helens, when fit, is one of the most exciting talents in the competition and Niall Evalds at Salford Red Devils has also come on wonderfully this season and would keep a fit Kevin Locke out of his favoured position.
Add in Jamie Shaul at Hull FC, Kieran Dixon at Hull KR and Ryan Hampshire at Wigan Warriors and it is clesr there has never been such an exciting time to play in the fullback position.
THERE’S HOPE FOR THE REST OF THE LEAGUE – THE RHINOS ARE BEATABLE
Warrington Wolves proved on Friday night that the Rhinos are beatable and there is a hope that they can be can reeled in before the Super 8s split.
The Wolves completed the league double over the Rhinos with a 29-10 win after beating them 18-6 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium back in March. It was only their second win in seven league games but if they keep up that form they could still challenge for a top 4 place.
THE RAIDERS ARE THE COMEBACK KINGS
Canberra Raiders did it again this weekend.
After coming back from 22-0 last weekend against Wests Tigers, a club record, they recovered from a 16-4 deficit this weekend to defeat the reigning premiers South Sydney Rabbitohs.
It was the Rabbitohs’ third straight defeat, the first time this has occurred under the guidance of coach Michael Maguire, and leaves them in sixth place on the ladder with four wins from eight games.
LEE RADFORD IS UNDER PRESSURE AGAIN
Hull FC head coach Lee Radford is under the pump again in the west side of Hull after Friday night’s desperate 24-4 home defeat to Huddersfield Giants.
Hull had a run of three wins on the back of their atrocious performance against local rivals Hull KR on the Easter Weekend, defeating St Helens, Widnes Vikings and Sheffield Eagles in the Challenge Cup, and little bit of the pressure had been lifted.
However, the nature of the defeat against the Giants has pulled all that pressure back onto Radford as the Hull fans were very unhappy with the commitment and performance levels of their team.
Hull owner Adam Pearson insists he will not sack Radford, but this Friday’s home game against Salford Red Devils will be seen as a must-win by the black and white fans.
NEVER GIVE UP ON A KICK THROUGH (Kevin Naiqama)
If you haven’t seen the piece of skill by Wests Tigers Kevin Naiqama to create a try for James Tedesco against the Bulldogs at the weekend, then look for it on YouTube.
Tedesco put a little kick through to the Bulldogs tryline and for all the world it looked to be going dead, but Naiqama had other ideas.
He flung himself at the ball and managed to throw it backwards at full speed and, amazingly, directly into the hands of the supporting Tedesco, who just had to catch it and place the ball down for a great try. Never give up on a kick through!
OFFICIALS DON’T TAKE DANGEROUS LIFTS SERIOUSLY
Cronulla Sharks’ former England international Chris Heighington is another player who benefited from the reluctance of referees around the world to produce a red card.
His dangerous lift tackle, alongside team-mate Michael Ennis, on Penrith forward Jeremy Latimore was worthy of a sending-off.
It seems that players and officials have not learned from the tragic accident to Newcastle Knights forward Alex McKinnon and do not take a dangerous lift and drive into the ground that seriously. Johnathan Thurston was subject to something similar earlier in the year against Newcastle, while Leigh outside back Tom Armstrong also got away with a similar tackle in the Challenge Cup defeat of Salford Red Devils last weekend. Does it take ANOTHER tragic accident to make this kind of tackle a straight red?? Heighington was put on report and will probably receive a 3-4 week ban, but match officials must start taking a harder line against this type of tackle.
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