Huddersfield Giants 16-28 Wakefield Trinity – Match Report

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Ben Jones-Bishop scores for Wakefield

 

Wakefield fans could be forgiven for forgetting Trinity’s success’ in the Challenge Cup in the 1960’s after just one semi-final in 37 years however their 16-28 victory over Huddersfield means they will once again compete in the final four of the prestigious tournament.

New arrival David Fifita was the star-man for Trinity scoring a double which could have been a hat-trick had the ball not hit referee Gareth Hewer.

Wingers Ben Jones-Bishop and Tom Johnstone scored either side of half time with Johnstone again demonstrating his blistering pace with a breakaway interception try. Liam Finn sunk three conversions and three penalty goals to help keep Chris Chester’s side in control throughout.

Huddersfield would have been thinking their season couldn’t get any more difficult however the death of academy player Ronan Costello, Paul Anderson’s dismissal and an exit from the Challenge Cup to the hands of Wakefield have led to the lowest point of the Giants season thus far.

Scott Grix, Jake Connor and Jermaine McGillvary all crossed for the home side but they never really came close to Wakefield throughout and a ten minute spell without influential playmaker Danny Brough in the first half after a high shot on Reece Lyne didn’t help the Giants cause.

After receiving a sin-bin on his Wakefield debut last weekend versus Leeds Fifita made his second game more memorable inside the first two minutes. Following Ukuma Ta’ai’s knock-on from the kick-off the Wildcats took the lead when their new man spun through the defenders and over the line.

The Wildcats maintained their quick start with Johnstone coming close but failing to collect Jacob Miller’s chip over-the-top on a free play but Finn did extend the visitors lead with a penalty goal.

Lyne was next to trouble the Giants line breaking from deep and regaining his feet following an ankle tap but the centre was then hit with a high tackle by Brough which saw the Giants half-back sent to the sin-bin.

Wakefield soon utilised their man advantage creating an overlap which allowed Jones-Bishop to dive and plant the ball down in the corner despite the best efforts of Connor. Finn failed to convert but did add a second penalty goal shortly after a long-range Fifita break.

Trinity were on the ascendency in the first twenty minutes but the Giants begun to control the game in the latter stages of the first half. McGillvary managed to dislodge the ball in collision with Matty Ashurst and Grix was quickest to react racing fifty metres to score even with Tom Johnstone coming close to holding the Giants full-back up.

The re-introduction of Brough added even more incentive to the Huddersfield attack and it was Brough’s clever offload that gave Connor the opportunity to level the scores between himself and Jones-Bishop by diving over in the corner. Huddersfield forced three goal line dropouts and Connor was denied by video referee Ben Thaler in the final minute of the half meaning they couldn’t narrow the deficit further.

Wakefield matched their lightning start to the game in the second half when Johnstone snatched Grix’s looping pass from the air and sprinted eighty metres, leaving Michael Lawrence behind, to extend the visitors lead. Fifita was denied a second try shortly after when Miller’s kick deflected off referee Hewer under the Giants posts.

However Fifita, who had failed to score in three NRL seasons, notched a second try just a few moments later when he hit Finn’s inside ball at pace and powered his way over Grix. Huddersfield responded immediately though with some quick hands through the backs which eventually found McGillvary who scored with ease.

Finn sunk another penalty goal with just under fifteen minutes remaining which confirmed Wakefield’s spot in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup. McGillvary managed to get over for a second try in the dying stages but couldn’t prevent Huddersfield’s departure from the 2016 Challenge Cup.

Giants: Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Connor; Brough, Ellis; Crabtree, Hinchcliffe, Rapira, Symonds, Ta’ai, Lawrence.

Interchanges: Murphy, Wood, Johnson, Mason.

Wildcats: Jowitt, Johnstone, Lyne, Tupou, Jones-Bishop; Miller, Finn; Fifita, Moore, England, Molloy, Ashurst, Sio.

Interchanges: Arona, Anderson, Annakin, Walton.

Referee: Gareth Hewer. Touch Judges: C. Kendall & M. Woodhead.

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Super League-Premier League club comparison

After Widnes’ 12-18 victory last Thursday ended Wigan’s 21 month unbeaten Super League run at the DW Stadium comparisons between the Vikings and Leicester City have only continued to grow.

Even with Dennis Betts playing down similarities between his side and Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester the likeness does make you think if each Super League team where a Premier League side who would they be?

Castleford Tigers – Stoke City

Previously looked at as the ‘plucky underdog’ both Castleford and Stoke are trying to adjust to expectations following their recent success. In recent years Stoke have reached an FA Cup final and have played in Europe whilst Castleford earned a place in the Challenge Cup final in 2014 and competed in the ‘Super 8’s’.

However much like Stoke Castleford are bringing the best out of some very talented players. Luke Dorn, Ben Roberts, Luke Gale and Denny Solomona are all shining under Daryll Powell’s leadership and their continued success could see them bring in more high-profile names like the Potters have done in the Premier League.

Cas have been hit with a lot of injuries early on and they will have to show they have some squad depth and more than just a solid first seventeen something Stoke have struggled with at times.

Catalans Dragons – Everton

It seems everyone looks at Everton as if they have had a good season however inconsistency as seen them fall away from the European places and it always feels the same with the Catalans Dragons. Heading into the 2016 campaign many predicted the French side to do well this season but they’ve had a mixed start which has seen them struggle at home but win as many away games as they did all last season.

And while the Dragons home form will probably pick up it will only act as a cover for what will likely be another average season considering the names they’ve brought in. Names like Glenn Stewart, David Taylor and Willie Mason will take away from the results if they are poor.

Somehow I’m sure Catalans will lead us into believing they’ve had a hugely successful season when they finish just inside the top eight.

Huddersfield Giants – Crystal Palace

The Giants have been flying over the past few seasons but their significant slump in form at the beginning of this season is reminiscent of Palace’s fall down the Premier League table since the turn of the year. Paul Anderson’s side find themselves pinned to the bottom of the Super League table after only mustering one win from their first six games of the season.

Huddersfield have been plagued with injuries early on this season and really struggled when playmaker Danny Brough was out for two games. Brough’s absence in the Giants side leaves a noticeable gap in their attack something that Crystal Palace have had to come to terms with this season with striker Yannick Bolasie out for a large period of time.

It is still yet to be seen as to whether the Giants can turn their season around.

Hull FC – Manchester United

How many times over the past few pre-seasons have we heard “Hull FC are the team to watch this season”? Almost every time. Ever Since Fergie left Old Trafford we’ve heard the same about United “This will be the season they turn back to the United of old.” That has still yet to happen.

Hull FC have made many marquee acquisitions over the past few seasons with Hull bringing in Gareth Ellis, Leon Pryce and most recently Frank Pritchard but much like Angel Di Maria, Falcao and Memphis Depay none of them have made a huge impact. Much like United fans the Hull FC fans seem to be growing more and more frustrated with their failure to live up to expectations.

Already FC have shown inconsistency in the early weeks of the season it may just be another underwhelming season for Lee Radford’s men.

Hull KR – Newcastle United                          

Hull KR seem to be the side that season-by-season, week-by-week are slowly sliding into trouble just like the Toon have in the Premier League in recent times.

Since KR came up to the Super League their side has slowly begun to involve less and less home-grown talent and revolved around imported players in a similar fashion to Newcastle’s French overhaul. Both clubs seem to be in serious denial of the trouble they’re in and if they continue the way they are going they could well be playing in a different league come next season.

Rafa Benitez and James Webster have been brought in to steady the ships in recent weeks but it could be too much of a task for both men.

Leeds Rhinos – Chelsea

Well, I think the comparison here is easy to see. Leeds Rhinos were last season’s treble winners hailed as one of the best sides to ever grace Super League and much like Premier League champions Chelsea they’ve suffered a rapid fall from grace.

The Rhinos have struggled to come to terms with the departures of Jamie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield and Kylie Leuluia as well as injuries to key players such as new captain Danny McGuire. This has led them to have an extremely stuttered start to the season much like Chelsea suffered under Jose Mourinho when players like Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard weren’t performing.

The arrival of Guus Hiddink has turned things around at Stamford Bridge and while it is highly unlikely that Brian McDermott will lose his role at Leeds he has a lot of work to do if the Rhinos are to retain their title.

Salford Red Devils – Liverpool

This comparison has very little to do with success and fan-base but more to do with absurd spending and transfer policies in recent times. When Dr Marwan Koukash came in and starting throwing his financial weight around most Red Devils fans thought it was the start of a new era and instead what they got was a bunch of players past their prime on a lot more money than they should be. As for Liverpool’s signing history just see – Andy Carroll, Dejan Lovren, Cristian Benteke.

Jurgen Klopp has already begun to make changes for the future at Anfield and this season Salford’s acquisitions also seem to be more targeted towards the future. Players like Robert Lui and Ben Murdoch-Masila are trying to make a name for themselves and could help Salford climb the Super League table.

Heading down a more youthful path may not work for the Red Devils immediately but it certainly gives them a better foundation than in previous seasons.

St Helens – Arsenal

Saints haven’t had a bad start to the campaign but as always it feels like they are missing something, nobody can put their finger on it, but there’s something not there. Another team who has been labelled with the same criticism is Arsenal who seemed to have bottled their best chance at winning the title in almost a decade.

Both sides have quality players but always seem to be hampered with injuries. Saints’ injury list over the last 4-5 seasons would most likely be longer than most Super League clubs combined, they almost have a squad of Abou Diaby’s. Kieran Cunningham is a St Helens legend much like Arsene Wenger at Arsenal but you feel with Cunningham doesn’t start to get it right he could follow in Wenger’s footsteps and the love from the fans could slowly fade away.

However I think it would be fair to say Saints stand a much better chance than Arsenal of winning some silverware at this stage.

Wakefield Wildcats – Sunderland

Wakefield were the first side to lose their coach this season when Brian Smith walked out and this has become something the Wildcats are all too familiar with James Webster also leaving last season.

One Premier League side who are accustomed to a managerial change or two are Sunderland who it seems every season bring a new man in and just about survive. Wakefield only just managed to win the Million Pound Game last season and in all honestly their squad hasn’t really improved much like Sunderland’s. Both sides have spent the last few seasons down the wrong end of the table and its only a matter of time before your luck runs out.

Both Chris Chester and Sam Allardyce are tasked with keeping their sides in the top flights of their respective sports but it could be a lot easier said than done.

Warrington Wolves – West Ham

Tony Smith’s side had a very difficult 2015 which saw them never really find any prolonged good form however this season they’ve come out flying winning all of their Super League games so far including an opening weekend win over treble winners Leeds Rhinos.

So why West Ham? Well West Ham did well last season but were also subject to some inconsistency. However this season they have improved under Slavan Bilic and they started the season in unbelievable form knocking off Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal all away from home. The Hammers flair players have stepped up when needed this season and this is something that Chris Sandow and Kurt Gidley have managed up to now for the Wolves.

West Ham look to be on the precipice of Champions League football for the first time in their history and a top four finish for Warrington would definitely be an improvement on last years campaign.

Widnes Vikings – Leicester

The fairy tale season that Leicester City have had thus far in the Premier League seems to have inspired Dennis Betts and the Widnes Vikings as they lead the Super League winning six of their seven games so far this season.

Kevin Brown has taken on the Riyad Mahrez role in this Widnes side providing the creativity and spark going forward which has resulted in numerous assists already. With Brown imitating the Mahrez role then winger and Super League top try-scorer Cory Thompson is Jamie Vardy. Thompson has already crossed for ten tries this season after going under the radar from all pundits and fans in pre-season.

Whether Widnes can maintain this form for the length that Leicester have is a different story however.

Wigan Warriors – Tottenham

Now I’m sure Wigan fans will question this comparison with “Tottenham, they’ve never won the Premier League?” Yes, I’ll accept that one main difference is the fact that Wigan have won the Super League on several occasions and Spurs are yet to win a Premier League but there is still a chance for them this season.

A solid campaign for Spurs has been centred on great defence and a fantastic home record which is identical to Wigan even if Widnes did end their unbeaten home Super League run last weekend. If you look at both sides they both possess a lot of talented English players with Wigan boasting Sam Tomkins, Michael McIlorum, Oliver Gildart, George Williams and many more. Spurs, likewise, like to use their home-grown talent in the form of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Danny Rose.

Tottenham may be pipped to the league title by Leicester but they have sustained a solid challenge all season and that is something Wigan would like to emulate.

Super League 2016 Preview – Part One

Castleford Tigers

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Cas Captain – Michael Shenton

Castleford have been the surprise team over the past two seasons and are still riding the wave of momentum that begun when Daryl Powell took over back in 2013. Classy Cas’ will be looking to build on a Wembley and Super Eight’s appearance in the past two seasons by finally breaking into the top four of Super League.

Last season they lost a few of their big name players and whilst this season they have lost powerhouse Justin Carney they have strengthened the squad overall. Experienced winger Joel Monaghan will give the side an extra dimension with his aerial threat out wide something Cas lacked last season.

The Tigers had a lot of success last season due to the creative half-back pairing of Luke Gale and Ben Roberts who had the opportunity to create chances on the back of constant hard work from forwards like Grant Millington and veteran Andy Lynch. If Powell can get his side to repeat this formula in 2016 Castleford could really be a force and challenge for the top four.

Key Player: Michael Shenton – Cas’ Captain will need to lead from the front again for the Tigers to improve on last season.

One to watch: Denny Solomona – Solomona burst onto the scene last year with 18 tries in 15 games, expect him to build on this in 2016.

New signings: Ben Crooks, Joel Monaghan, Greg Minikin, Ryan Hampshire, Jy Hitchcox.

Prediction: 5th

Catalans Dragons

The French side have had quite a large turnaround in 2016 with a lot of players leaving but also bringing in eight new faces. Catalans finished 7th last season and this was due, in most part, to their fantastic home form. However the Dragons away form is much the opposite with the French side constantly struggling on their travels. They only managed to win two away games all season last year – both against Wakefield. If their away form doesn’t improve then there’s no chance they will challenge higher up the table.

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Richie Myler – Dragons new half-back

 

Catalans have lost numerous vital players to an array of NRL clubs such as Scott Dureau, Ian Henderson, Elliot Whitehead and Zeb Taia. However they have brought in straight replacements for the majority of their losses. Richie Myler will fill the boots of Dureau and will likely do the job well after proving himself over time at Warrington. Glenn Stewart and big Dave Taylor will bring some power and NRL experience to their pack which could prove pivotal over the season.

The new half-back partnership of Carney and Myler will have to hit the ground running if they expect to challenge in the top half of the table. However with a lot of new recruits coming into the side it could take the Dragons a while to gel and therefore delay any ambitions they have of making the top four.

Key Player: Todd Carney – Will be instrumental to everything Catalan do going forward if he can remain fit and find his best form.

One to watch: Glenn Stewart – New arrival from South Sydney expect the forward to add to Catalans already ferocious pack.

New Signings: Pat Richards, Richie Myler, Krisnan Inu, David Taylor, Pail Aiton, Justin Horo, Jodie Broughton, Glenn Stewart.

Prediction: 8th

Huddersfield Giants

The last few seasons Huddersfield have been the ‘nearly’ men of the Super League

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Top try-scorer – Jermaine McGillvary

missing out on the Grand Final and League Leaders Shield narrowly on both occasions. However the Giants have tasted success back in 2013 when they finished top of the regular season but again fell at the play-off hurdle.

 

The Giants have lost key player Brett Ferres as well as other notable players such as Jodie Broughton, Shaun Lunt and Craig Kopczak. Even though none of these players are huge losses the Huddersfield squad has thinned out due to their departures and they haven’t really been replaced. However, on a positive, Huddersfield have kept hold of star men Danny Brough and Jermaine McGillvary which means they will have a lot of power in the final third. McGillvary will be looking to retain his title as the Super League’s top try-scorer.

If the Giants are to shake the title of being the ‘nearly’ team in the league they will need to be more consistent at the back end of the season particularly in the super eights and play-off stage. However with a diluted squad this season it may be difficult for the Giants to hit the form needed come September time.

Key Player: Danny Brough – The organiser for the Giants, Huddersfield will struggle if they lose Brough at any point.

One to watch: Jermaine McGillvary – Last season’s top try-scorer and his tries will be pivotal in the Giants challenge for top four.

New Signings: Ryan Hinchcliffe, Sam Rapira, Daniel Smith, Larne Patrick.

Prediction: 6th

Hull FC

Lee Radford and co have made some serious waves in pre-season with their signings and

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FC new man – Frank Pritchard

a heavy victory over Hull KR. However it always seems that hype is built around the black and whites before the season only for them to disappoint pretty quickly. After finishing in 8th place last season Hull will be hoping this is the year that their investment pays off and they finally begin to get back to the heights of the mid 2000’s.

 

FC’s biggest signing is Frank Pritchard from the Bulldogs. The prop has tonnes of experience and will be a huge force against any other pack in the league. With the likes of Pritchard, Ellis and fellow new signing Sika Manu Hull will find themselves in better positions in attack as well as managing to toughen up in defence, something that has been a major issue over the past few campaigns.

Last season Hull FC really struggled in the creative department and Leon Pryce and Marc Sneyd will definitely need to step up and offer them something different in the final third of the pitch. With a stronger pack around them this season it is likely they will control games more often allowing them to be more expansive in attack.

Key Player: Gareth Ellis – The black and white’s captain who, if he remains fit, will be vital to improving their defence this season.

One to watch: Frank Pritchard – FC’s big recruit from the NRL Frank ‘the Tank’ will dominate in the forward line.

New Signings: Frank Pritchard, Scott Taylor, Carlos Tuimavave, Mark Fonua, Sika Manu, Danny Washbrook, Lee Smith.

Prediction: 7th

Hull KR

Hull KR narrowly missed out on the super eights last season to their cross-city rivals Hull

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KR’s Albert Kelly

FC however they didn’t lose a game in the middle eights stage. Coach Chris Chester will be looking to build on this and make the super eights stage this time around. The Robin’s were decent in spells last season but really fell when Terry Campese and Albert Kelly suffered injuries and which meant they lacked any organisation or creativity.

 

KR have struggled to recruit this winter with Shaun Lunt and Kevin Larroyer being their only notable signings. Lunt could bring another dimension when they are going forward however the Robins were strong in attack last season it was their defence that was the problem. With no serious incomings in the forwards it is likely KR will struggle again this season in defence.

The Robin’s are likely to struggle this season and it will be extremely difficult for them to push for a spot in the top eight. If Chester’s side do have serious hopes of finishing above the likes of Catalans, Salford and FC they will need to continue their decent home form as well as picking up more victories away from Craven Park.

Key Player: Terry Campese – KR missed Campese when he was injured last season his ball skills will be key to KR’s top eight challenge.

One to watch: Josh Mantellato – The Robins winger who is lethal in an aerial challenge and is guaranteed tries.

New Signings: Thomas Minns, Iain Thornley, Shaun Lunt, Kevin Larroyer, Chris Clarkson, James Greenwood, Ryan Shaw, Rob Mulhern, Will Oaks.

Prediction: 10th

Leeds Rhinos

Last season Leeds dominated domestic Rugby League winning the Challenge Cup, League Leaders Shield and the Grand Final in an historic treble. This feat was a perfect send-off for departing trio Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai. However it remains to

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Rhino’s recruit – Brett Ferres

be seen whether Brian McDermott’s men can repeat their heroics of last season having lost all this experience.

 

Brett Ferres is Leeds’ main signing ahead of the 2016 season after leaving Huddersfield in controversial circumstances. However, with the off field situation aside Ferres is a top quality player and runs the best attacking lines around. On the back of McGuire and Liam Sutcliffe he will cause mayhem for any defence. Sutcliffe will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders this season and will be expected to step up and come into his own this year, something he can definitely manage.

Even with the big losses Leeds have suffered at the end of last season their is still no doubting their is a lot of quality in the side and they still have tonnes of experience with the likes of Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Jamie-Jones Buchanan and Carl Ablett. If these players can help develop and nurture the younger talent in the Rhino’s ranks there is no reason they can’t go on to win trophies again in 2016.

Key Player: Danny McGuire – McGuire has huge shoes to fill as Leeds captain following Kevin Sinfield’s departure.

One to watch: Brett FerresFerres’ attacking lines will bring Leeds a lot of joy and he will help to ease the loss of Kylie Leuluai and Jamie Peacock.

New Signings: Anthony Mullaly, Keith Galloway, Jordan Baldwinson, Beau Falloon, Brett Ferres.

Prediction: 3rd

Super League Dream Team 2015

The Super League Dream Team for 2015 has been named today. The side includes four players from the Leeds Rhinos who have won the League leaders shield and Challenge Cup so far this season.

Wigan, Saints, Huddersfield and Castleford all have two players in the team. Whilst French side Catalan have one player in the thirteen.

Here is the side –

The Dream Team
                      The Dream Team

Full-back –  Zak Hardaker (Leeds Rhinos) – Hardaker is one of the three nominees up for the Man of Steel award so his position at full-back in the dream team was a no-brainer. Often marred by some off field controversies there is no doubting that Hardaker’s talent is fully deserved of a place in the side. He always seems to be involved in everything good Leeds do in attack with 10 tries and 6 try assists to his name including an absolute wonderful solo effort against Warrington. The young Englishman is also third in metres gained this season which highlights his brilliant kick-return game.

WingerJermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants) – The Huddersfield winger currently sits atop the Super League try-scoring charts with an impressive 27 tries in 30 appearances this season. In fact, McGillvary has scored in all but 3 of his last 15 games including and is currently on a streak of scoring in 7 consecutive matches. This formidable run includes braces against Wigan, Catalan and Castleford as well as 4 against Warrington. McGillvary is also one of the most powerful wingers in the league as proven by his dangerous kick-returns which have amounted to him making 33 clean breaks this season.

Centre – Michael Shenton (Castleford Tigers) – Shenton makes the team for a second consecutive season as he continues to play the role of captain fantastic at Castleford. Guided by Daryll Powell he has again led his Castleford comrades to another surprising season as they finished just outside the semi-final places. Shenton has crossed the line on 14 occasion this campaign however his contribution is much more than that. He has provided 11 try assists which explains as to why Denny Solomona has the try-scoring record he does with Shenton as his centre.

Centre – Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos) – There is absolutely no doubt that Kallum Watkins is one of, if not the, most exciting player in Super League right now. The Centres mix of pace, power and pure athleticism make him an absolute nightmare for defences particularly when he’s coming off service from the likes of McGuire, Sinfield, Hardaker and Burrow. Watkins has scored 15 tries this season. Early on a few claimed that they were coming against the somewhat ‘lesser’ sides in the league however since then he has gone on to score against the likes of Saints, Warrington and Wigan. Even after missing a handful of games through injury his inclusion in the side was inevitable.

Winger – Joe Burgess (Wigan Warriors) – The second winger role goes to Wigan youngster Joe Burgess who makes the dream team for the first time just before he makes his move over to Australia. Burgess is close to McGillvary with his 23 tries this season which included back-to-back hat-tricks against Wakefield and Hull KR in the Summer. An indication as to how well Burgess and fellow Wigan winger Dom Manfredi have performed is they have kept former dream team player Josh Charnley out for the majority of the campaign.

Scrum-half – Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants) – Scotsman Danny Brough makes it into the dream team for the 2nd time after another impressive season with the Giants. Brough is vital to everything Huddersfield bring to the table in terms of their attack. Their impressive back-line with the likes of McGillvary, Murphy and Cudjoe thrives off having a player with the ability and vision which Brough does. This is why Brough has 31 try assists to his name this season, more than any other player and the reason he takes the scrum-half role in this side.

Scrum-Half - Danny Brough
Scrum-Half – Danny Brough

Stand-off – Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers) – The second Castleford player to make the side is stand-off and key playmaker Luke Gale. Gale has really stepped up for the Tigers this season making them a force to be reckoned with in attack which has led many to throw his name into the England mix-up. With 11 tries and 27 try assist from the stand-off role it is clear to see why Cas have been such a potent threat this season with Gale at the centre of it all. There is no doubting Gale will be delighted with his position in the dream team but surely the England call-up would cap his season off well.

Prop – Alex Walmsley (St Helens) – Alex Walmsley has been a powerhouse for the Saints this season and has helped force them into the semi-final places. Walmsley’s size and physical presence has allowed the Saints to bully teams in the forwards with Walmsley making the most metres out of any player this season with 4092. Not only does Walmsley hold the title for the most metres but his work ethic in getting Saints out of trouble is apparent by him having taken more carries than any other player this season. There is no wonder that Walmsley is one of the three in the running to be named man of steel.

Hooker – James Roby (St Helens) – Roby gets his name on dream team sheet for a 4th time but surprisingly its his first appearance since 2012 however his tendency to struggle with injuries has been a factor in this. Roby is thriving once again under the tutelage of the legendary Kieran Cunningham at Langtree Park. He has once again got himself over the 1000 mark in terms of tackles in defence whilst again topping the table for the most runs from dummy half. It is these well timed jinking runs that catch sides out of position to which his Saints teammates take advantage.

Prop – Jamie Peacock (Leeds Rhinos) – Leeds veteran Jamie Peacock makes the Super League dream team for an unbelievable 11th time at the age of 36. Every year the critics doubt whether Peacock will be able to meet his own high standards for another season…but yet again he’s managed it. He has been a pivotal forward in Leeds’ double, possibly triple, winning campaign thus far. He has seen off tough competition from the likes of Castleford’s Grant Millington and Andy Lynch, Huddersfield’s Craig Huby and Warrington duo Chris Hill and Ashton Sims to earn his place in the side again.

Second Row – Zeb Taia (Catalans Dragons) – The only Catalan man to make it into the thirteen is Kiwi Zeb Taia who has had another wonderful season in the South of France. Taia has managed to score 12 tries from the second-rower which is a huge contribution the the Catalan side. His stern defensive efforts have also been a major reason as to why Catalan have been such a force at home. His second-row partner Elliot Whitehead has also had a solid season down in France but may have been narrowly edged out by Taia.

Second Row – Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors) – Farrell is the only forward for Wigan to make it into the dream team this season.  Farrell has grabbed 12 tries this season which is an indication of the threat he can provide with his immaculate line running from the second-row position. He has also been a key figure in the Warriors tough defence which is now the best in the Super League. This position, similarly to the other second-row position, could have been a toss-up between two players at the same club as John Bateman has also had a terrific season.

Loose-Forward - Adam Cuthbertson
Loose-Forward – Adam Cuthbertson

Loose Forward – Adam Cuthbertson (Leeds Rhinos) – The final nominee for the man of steel award is Adam Cuthbertson and he takes the Loose Forward role in the dream team. Cuthbertson has had an amazing season being instrumental in all Leeds’ success in his debut season. The majority of fans have been urging him to pledge allegiance to England so that Steve McNamara can call him up for the upcoming test against the Kiwis. Cuthbertson has been a major threat for all the sides with his offload game having offloaded the ball double the amount of times than any over player in the league.

Wigan Warriors 30 vs 22 Huddersfield Giants – Match Report

Wigan’s unbeaten home record stayed intact as they defeated Huddersfield in a narrow victory in the first game of the new super eights format.

It was a late Dom Crosby try that wrapped the game up for Wigan after they had suffered a slow start conceding two early Jermaine McGillvary tries within the first ten minutes.

Williams dives over for Wigan
Williams dives over for Wigan

Second-rower Liam Farrell really turned the game in Wigan’s favour as he really turned up the heat scoring a late first half try as well as assisting George Williams’ second half try. Winger Dom Manfredi crossed between these two scores. Jack Hughes, on loan from Huddersfield, and Dom Crosby were the other scorers for the Warriors as they won the first ever super eights fixture.

As for Huddersfield Larne Patrick and Eorl Crabtree were their late scorers however they were always behind the Warriors in the second half.

Man of the match Farrell said: “This win gives us five points on Huddersfield which means we have a bit of a cushion and we still have a 100% record at home, we need to keep that up and keep on improving.”

Wigan Coach Shaun Wane said: “That week off doesn’t do us any good, it never has but to come back from a 10-0 deficit against a good team in Huddersfield it shows a lot of resilience and toughness.”

Huddersfield winger and try-scorer McGillvary said: “We started like a house on fire but we need to play like that for the full eighty and not just the first twenty we can’t keep changing the game plan midway through the game but we’ll keep going.”

The victory moves the Warriors up to second in the league leapfrogging local rivals St Helens. Huddersfield remain in fourth position in the new eight team table and have now failed to beat Wigan in their last three attempts.

The visitors were first to score inside the first ten minutes through winger McGillvary. Huddersfield capitalized on some early pressure by throwing the ball out wide before reaching McGillvary who dove over with ease.

Just minutes later the Giants scored an almost identical try to extend their lead. Again the ball was flung out to the left before finding McGillvary who, in similar fashion, went over the line untouched. For the majority of the first half Huddersfield dominated applying a lot of pressure to Wigan however they couldn’t further their lead.

As for Wigan they managed to cut down on the penalties they were conceding and began to settle into the game. This paid off in the last ten minutes of the half when Farrell got them on the scoreboard. The second-rower hit the ball at pace before breaking through the Giants defence. He managed to turn it up a gear and used his pace to round oncoming full-back Scott Grix and score. However the try did come on the back of an incorrect knock-on decision against Danny Brough.

Despite a lot first half turnaround for the Warriors which included a Josh Charnley break as well as repeat sets on Huddersfield’s line it was the Giants who went into the interval ahead.

The Warriors fight back continued in the second half as they scored two tries in the space of two minutes. Firstly Williams through a long ball out wide to Manfredi who stepped inside of McGillvary before powering over Grix. Williams would follow his assist up with a try of his own. Farrell broke from deep in his own after fending off Hughes he then drew in Grix before giving Williams the ball. The youngster raced to the line to put Wigan into the lead.

Smith and co in defence
Smith and co in defence

Hughes would soon make up for this missed tackle when he pulled the Giants back into the game. The second-rower would hit a short ball from Grix and managed to bundle over Williams and Gelling before reaching for the line to score ahainst his parent club. However the man in this swap deal Patrick would soon return the favour with a Wigan try. Williams looked to be tackled before throwing an outrageous offload to Patrick who crashed over, the youngster really displaying his class.

However the Giants weren’t going down without a fight as they pulled themselves back within two points as Crabtree powered his way over from metres out and finishing just to the left of the sticks. Fortunately for the Warriors they managed to ease any late nerves when Crosby jumped into the hooker role and burrowed his way through the Huddersfield defence to seal the victory for Wigan in the first game of the super eights.

Wigan face a difficult trip to Heandingley to face league leaders Leeds next weekend whilst Huddersfield host Catalans.

Wigan: Bowen, Charnley, Gelling, Bateman, Manfredi, Williams, Smith, Crosby, Mcilorum, Mossop, Tomkins, Farrell, O’Loughlin.

Interchanges: Powell, Clubb, Tautai, Patrick.

Huddersfield: Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy, Brough, Ellis, Crabtree, Robinson, Huby, Ta’ai, Hughes, Lawrence.

Interchanges: Bailey, Kopczak, Leeming, Smith.

Referee: Ben Thaler.

Leeds Rhinos 28-24 Huddersfield Giants – Match Report

Paul Aiton’s late try helped Leeds maintain their 100% start to the season in a tight Yorkshire derby against Huddersfield.

Leeds led 18-0 with Carl Ablett, Adam Cuthbertson and Ryan Hall all scoring in the first half. However Huddersfield fought back with tries from Jamie Ellis and Joe Wardle to keep them in touching distance at half time.

Paul Aiton scored the match winning try
Paul Aiton scored the match winning try

The second half was end to end with Tom Briscoe extending Leeds’ lead. Yet again Huddersfield fought back with tries from Kyle Wood and Brett Ferres to put them in front for the first time in the game.

Unfortunately for the Giants it wasn’t enough as Aiton forced his way over for his first Leeds try and it turned out to be a crucial one to give them the win.

Leeds Coach Brian McDermott said: “Credit to Huddersfield for slowing us down but nobody wants to watch that the referee needs to stop that.”

He added “I wouldn’t saying were firing on all cylinders yet but we’ve won three from three.”

Huddersfield coach Paul Anderson said: “I have to congratulate the side on the character they showed tonight to come from 18-0 down and they didn’t let the scoreboard affect them.”

The target is still clear for Anderson has he said: “There’s still 20 rounds to go which means 40 points that can still get us the league leaders shield.”

Leeds did start the game well though putting themselves 18-0 up after 25 minutes. Carl Ablett was the first player to score after he hit a ball from Danny McGuire from close range. Adam Cuthbertson got over from a similar range when the ball came inside and he forced his way over Brett Ferres.

Ryan Hall continued this fierce start for the Rhinos when he got over in the corner. Centre Joel Moon broke from distance before getting the ball out to Hall whose combination of power and pace, which has served him so well over the years, helped him finish well.

Danny Brough said: “We gave them an 18-0 start in the first half and gave them a 6-0 in the second half.”

Even with this start Huddersfield did fight back and put themselves in touching distance at the break. After three consecutive sets Jamie Ellis managed to spin off the defenders and his momentum took him over the line.

This before Joe Wardle crashed his way over for his 50th Huddersfield Giants try. These two quick tries put the Giants only a converted try behind going into the interval. Wardle also came close to getting a second on the sound of the hooter but put the ball to ground.

Joe Wardle got Huddersfield back in reach
Joe Wardle got Huddersfield back in reach

Much like the first forty Leeds started the better as Stevie Ward made a barnstorming run through the middle of the field. He managed to find Tom Briscoe who finished the move off well to put Leeds 10 points in front. Huddersfield did start to fight back immediately after however showing a steely defence and having a Jermaine McGillvary disallowed.

They did get the try they needed though when Kyle Wood got onto the end of Leroy Cudjoe’s grubber kick back inside, he dived on the ball unmarked. After this Brett Ferres looked to have won the Giants the game as he went through before dummying and spinning his way over the line. Brough converted and Huddersfield led for the first time in the game.

Leeds didn’t give up though as Paul Aiton managed to scramble his way over from hooker, actually putting the ball down backwards. It was the first try for the ex-Wakefield man and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Sinfield converted to give Leeds a 28-24 victory.

Aiton said: “It feels really good coming off a few good years at Wakefield now I’m really looking forward to playing for Leeds.”

For Leeds it’s now three wins from three as they sit atop of the Super League table. Whilst Huddersfield are yet to win a game this season.

Captain Danny Brough said: “Even though we’re yet to win we can take a lot of confidence away from tonight’s performance.”

Leeds face a difficult trip to Hull FC next Thursday whilst Huddersfield host Widnes on Friday night.