Super League Team of the Week: Matchday 6

Castleford returned to winning ways this weekend as well as climbing back to the top of Super League following Wigan’s loss to Hull FC.

There were wins for Salford, Wakefield, Saints and Leeds while Widnes and Warrington’s winless streaks continued for another week.

But, who made my Super League Team of the Week?

Full-Back: Jamie Shaul (Hull FC)

Hull FC managed to pull of what could turn out to be a crucial victory in the chase for the League Leaders Shield as they overcame an injury-ridden Wigan side at the DW Stadium. FC had many standout performers but full-back Jamie Shaul was key.

Shaul was a constant threat in the final third having a hand in a couple of Hull’s tries as well as crossing for one himself. The full-backs try four minutes into the second half turned out to be the difference between the sides following a late Wigan fightback.

Shauk
Shaul calling the shots for FC. (Image: Sky Sports)

 

Winger: Greg Eden (Castleford Tigers)

Castleford bounced back from their first defeat of the season as they came from behind against Catalans Dragons. The Tigers style of play this season has led to their wingers featuring in many ‘Team of the Weeks’ and this week is no different with Greg Eden occupying a spot on the flank.

Eden’s first came from Castleford earning the ball back from a Catalan scrum and the winger chasing down a Ben Roberts kick. The former Brisbane winger sealed victory for Tigers as he broke through the Dragons defence with fifteen minutes remaining.

Centre: Kris Welham (Salford Red Devils)

Ian Watson’s Salford Red Devils were on fire on Friday night against a struggling Widnes side with nine different try-scorers helping them to a comfortable 10-46 victory at the Select Security Stadium.

Kris Welham was one of those scorers crossing in the first half as well as helping Greg Johnson go over on the same flank. Welham could prove to be a very strong addition to the Salford side.

Centre: Jake Connor (Hull FC)

A fantastic first half display from Lee Radford’s side saw them blow Wigan away with their attacking play too much for the Warriors. Centre Jake Connor had one of his better games in the black and white of FC.

Connor managed to score on the back of a magnificent ball from Sika Manu as well as causing problems for the Warriors defence alongside Mahe Fonua.

Winger: Adam Swift (St Helens)

Friday night’s Sky game saw Saints earn a comfortable victory over Warrington after a difficult opening thirty minutes. Winger Adam Swift went over twice for Kieran Cunningham’s side who are slowly beginning to climb the Super League table.

Mark Percival put Swift over in the closing stages of the first half and the third try in five minutes really dampened Warrington’s spirit going into the interval. The winger managed to grab his double midway through the second half and confirm victory for the Saints.

Scrum-Half: Jacob Miller (Wakefield Trinity)

Wakefield stuttered through the early stages of their game against Leigh on Thursday however once their forwards snatched control of the game half-back Jacob Miller was allowed to play and created numerous opportunities for Trinity.

Miller combined well with Sam Williams opening up the Centurions defence on the back of some quick play-the-balls. Miller was also the man to level the scores at 24-24 when he got on the end of Liam Finn’s low kick.

Stand-Off: Matty Smith (St Helens)

For weeks now we’ve heard Saints coach Kieran Cunningham point out the difference off-season signing Matty Smith would make when he returned to the side and Cunningham’s wasn’t wrong as Smith played a pivotal role in Saints 31-6 victory.

Smith controlled the game for large periods and added an organisation to St Helens that we had yet to witness this season. Cunningham will be hoping the England international’s impact carries on in the coming weeks.

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Matty Smith returned to action for St Helens. (Image: Getty Images)

 

Prop: Keegan Hirst (Wakefield Trinity)

Wakefield made some very astute signings in pre-season and one prospect was Keegan Hirst who arrived at the Beaumont Legal Stadium after two (?) solid seasons with Championship side Batley Bulldogs.

Hirst debuted this weekend and made an impact from the bench in Trinity’s victory over Leigh. Wakefield managed to claw themselves back into the game by winning the forward battle something which Hirst was central to.

Hooker: Matt Parcell (Leeds Rhinos)

For the second week running Matt Parcell sits in the role of hooker in my Super League Team of the Week after another great performance in Leeds’ 12-28 win over Huddersfield at the John Smith’s Stadium on Friday night.

Parcell has injected this Rhino’s side with something different in the final third and is proving to be one of the best Super League signings of 2017 already. Parcell was quickest to react to Carl Ablett’s low kick in the first half which extended Leeds’ lead.

Prop: Lama Tasi (Salford Red Devils)

Salford followed up their surprise victory over Castleford last weekend by signing a handful of players to new contracts with one of those being prop-forward Lama Tasi. The Kiwi displayed his commitment to the cause with an excellent performance in the Red Devils hammering of Widnes.

Ian Watson’s side, much like last weekend against the Tigers, completely dominated the ruck with forwards such as Tasi and Murdoch-Masila. Tasi powered his way over to open the scoring before eight other Red Devils would cross for tries of their own.

lama-tasi-salford_3169670
Lama Tasi in action for the Red Devils. (Image: Sporting Life)

 

Second-Row: Junior Moors (Castleford Tigers)

Daryl Powell’s expansive brand of Rugby League draws a huge amount of attention to his backs however it’s Cas’ powerful pack that lay the groundwork and Junior Moors is a consistent performer for the Tigers.

Moors, who was a handful for the Dragons defence throughout Sunday afternoon’s game, also found himself on the scoresheet just five minutes into the second half as he strolled through the Catalans defence.

Second-Row: Carl Ablett (Leeds Rhinos)

Carl Ablett was sent to the bin in Leeds victory over Huddersfield for an altercation with Danny Brough. However, the experienced second-rower had already made the positive impact necessary for the Rhinos in the first half and that’s why he made my Team of the Week.

Ablett pounced on a loose ball to put Leeds ahead in the first half and he turned provider a few minutes later as his grubber kick was planted down by Matt Parcell.

Loose-Forward: Jon Wilkin (St Helens)

With Matty Smith sidelined we’ve seen Kieran Cunningham experiment with youngster Danny Richardson at half-back as well as moving Jon Wilkin into the halves. While Wilkin has produced solid performances, he was back to his best this weekend as he returned to the pack.

The veteran forward looked to have a weight off his shoulders with Smith at half-back and excelled in both defence and attack for Saints.

 


 

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Super League Team of the Week: Matchday 5

Another enthralling weekend of Super League action saw Castleford and Wigan fail to win for the first times this season. However, Wigan’s draw keeps them top of the Super League table.

Hull FC and Leeds continued to chase the pacesetters while Warrington and Widnes remain winless.

But, who made my Team of the Week?

Full-Back: Morgan Escare (Wigan Warriors)

Morgan Escare arrived at the DW Stadium in the off-season with a lot of pressure on his shoulders being tasked with the role of filling in for an injured Sam Tomkins however he has adapted to life at Wigan extremely well.

The French full-back crossed in the first half to level the score for the Warriors before kicking two goals including a crucial late penalty goal which earned Wigan a point and meant Shaun Wane’s side are now alone at the top of the Super League table – one point clear of Castleford, Hull and Leeds.

Escare vs Huddersfield
Morgan Escare kicks a late goal for Wigan. (Photo: Stephen White – CameraSport/Getty Images)

 

Winger: Jack Owens (St Helens)

Since signing from Widnes at the beginning of the 2016 season Jack Owens is yet to set the world alight at St Helens but this weekend his try earned them an important two points in the south of France.

While Theo Fages’ sublime offload made the try Owens was in support to earn Saints’ second victory of the season and inflict Catalans’ first home defeat in 2017.

Centre: Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos)

Leeds made it back-to-back Super League wins with a controlled performance over an in-form Wakefield Trinity side with centre Kallum Watkins scoring twice for the Rhinos.

The Englishman climbed highest from a cross-field kick to open the scoring at Headingley before taking advantage of some neat play from Matt Parcell for his second of the game. England fans will be hoping he can return to the kind of form he displayed in 2015 particularly with the Rugby League World Cup at the end of the season.

Centre: Ben Crooks (Leigh Centurions)

Ben Crooks has been a victim of Castleford’s ever-growing success and has slowly been ousted from the Tigers side however he has shown the quality he possesses since signing a loan-deal with Leigh.

Crooks was solid in defence throughout Leigh’s first victory against Warrington in over twenty years and scored the Centurions second try of the game which really got them moving. The centre took advantage of the free-play rule before collecting his own kick and sliding over.

Winger: Mahe Fonua (Hull FC)

After a slow start against the Vikings it turned out to be a relatively comfortable victory for Hull FC at the KC Stadium and winger Mahe Fonua was on the scoresheet for Lee Radford’s side.

Fonua began the evening as provider taking Marc Sneyd’s cross-field kick well before offloading to Albert Kelly. The roles were reversed later when a neat pass from half-back Kelly found Fonua on the flank and the wideman finished well giving FC an eight-point lead going into the break.

Scrum-half: Albert Kelly (Hull FC)

Albert Kelly’s move across Hull from KR to FC turned some heads in the off-season but he is already proving to be a great addition for the 2016 Challenge Cup winners and was central to their victory over Super League strugglers Widnes this past Friday.

Kelly crossed for two tries in a game which Lee Radford’s side dominated. The half-back’s first came on the back of some good work from Fonua before Kelly again crossed in the second half powering his way over from close-range. Kelly was the most dangerous man on the field for FC scoring twice and earning an assist.

Kelly vs Widnes
Albert Kelly celebrates vs Widnes. (Photo: Hull Daily Mail)

 

Stand-Off: Gareth O’Brien (Salford Red Devils)

Salford Red Devils half-back is continuing to turn heads in the world of Rugby League ever since his drop-goal in the Million Pound Game and O’Brien again stepped up this weekend with a one-pointer to consign Castleford to their first defeat of the season.

O’Brien kept his cool late on kicking a penalty goal, after missing an earlier conversion, to draw the sides level before slotting over a drop-goal with just over two minutes left on the clock.

Prop: Gareth Hock (Leigh Centurions)

A remarkable 22-8 victory for Super League newbies Leigh over Warrington was fuelled by prop-forward Gareth Hock who rolled back the years with a terrific performance at the Leigh Sports Village.

The former Wigan and Salford forward was solid in defence and took the ball up well but it was actually his try-scoring which propelled Leigh to victory this weekend. Hock powered over to open the scoring inside the first ten minutes before crossing again in the second-half to help Leigh reach their highest ever Super League points tally.

Hooker: Matt Parcell (Leeds Rhinos)

The departure of James Segeyaro at the backend of the 2016 season left a void in the Leeds Rhinos camp however the arrival of Matt Parcell from NRL side Manly has proved to be a fantastic signing for Brian McDermott’s side.

Parcell was pivotal to everything the Rhinos did going forward in their comfortable win over Wakefield with McDermott saying post-match “My man of the match would be Matt Parcell – I thought he was outstanding.”

Prop: Adam Cuthbertson (Leeds Rhinos)

Leeds prop Adam Cuthbertson is renowned for his offloading prowess but this weekend he added try-scoring to his attacking game as he helped his side to victory against Leeds.

Cuthbertson forced his way under the sticks in the second half against the Wildcats all but sealing victory for the Rhinos.

Second-Row: Ben Murdoch-Masila (Salford Red Devils)

Last weekend Salford were left ruing missed chances in their narrow defeat at Wakefield and nobody would have felt as responsible as Ben Murdoch-Masila who failed to ground the ball correctly in the final minute costing his side the victory.

However, he made up for it this weekend as he twice crossed helping Salford become the first side to beat Castleford this season. Murdoch-Masila was too much for the Tigers to handle on their own line with the big man proving too strong for full-back Zak Hardaker.

Murdoch Masila
Ben Murdoch-Masila in action for Salford. (Photo: Sky Sports)

 

Second-Row: Anthony Mullally (Leeds Rhinos)

Anthony Mullally has been a fringe player at Headingley over the past few season spending time on dual-registration with Championship side Featherstone Rovers however an injury crisis at Headingley has given the 25-year-old an opportunity and he has taken it with both hands.

Mullally was on the scoresheet this past weekend for the Rhinos powering his way over on the back of a clever inside ball from hooker Parcell. Mullally will be hoping he can cement a permanent place in McDermott’s side.

Loose-Forward: Joel Tomkins (Wigan Warriors)

Joel Tomkins seems to get overlooked a lot recently with the exploits of brother Sam and Wigan’s strength in the forwards but this weekend he looked back at his best for the Warriors.

Tomkins as ever was strong in defence and a real threat going forward for Wigan and helped to inspire a Warriors pack ravaged by injuries.

NRL Team of the Week: Round One

1) Greg Inglis (South Sydney) – Is it really a surprise that the world’s best player is the full-back in the first NRL team of the week? Inglis has maintained his high expectations with his performance against Brisbane in the opening game of the NLR campaign. As always the big full-back was instrumental in everything the Rabbitohs did as well as getting over the line himself. I’m sure it won’t be the last time we see Inglis’ patented ‘gator’ celebration this season.

2) Semi Radrada (Parramatta) – Radrada has definitely earned player of the week for Round One after he managed to grab

Semi Radrada bursts through
Semi Radrada bursts through

three tries in a 42-12 victory for Parra over Manly. The Eels got their season off to a flyer this time around and Radrada was key to this success. His first two tries were on the back of Taikarangi’s passes before Radrada’s combination of pace and power got him over the try line. His third and final try came after an exquisite ball from Norman before the winger finished with ease to cap off a wonderful afternoon, both personally and, for his team. The first hat-trick of many in this NRL season, hopefully.

3) Dane Gagai (Newcastle) – Dane Gagai was the real catalyst in a solid 24-14 Knights win over New Zealand Warriors on Saturday. Gagai went over the line in the opening minutes to get the Knights off to a fantastic start. Later he forced his way over again to pull Newcastle level, both real centre’s tries. He finished the game with the most tries, line-breaks and running metres proving he really had been a key in Newcastle’s performance.

4) Brad Taikarangi (Parramatta) – Even with his winger Tadrada stealing the headlines Taikarangi still managed to put in a performance which made people take notice. Taikarangi assisted two of Radrada’s three tries and was a nuisance for the Manly defence all game. The centre did get a try of his own later on when he got on the end of Chris Sandows chip over the top.

5) Pat Richards (Wests) – If Radrada was player of the week Richards was a close second. The winger almost single-handedly won Wests their opening game of the season when they defeated Gold Coast 18-19. Richards went in for two tries in the corner both times to pull the Tigers level. This before he kicked a drop-goal in the dying seconds of the game to give Wests the win on the opening weekend. His infamous kicking ability on display again.

6) Corey Norman (Parramatta) – When a team scores 42 points on the opening weekend a lot of this has got to be down to fantastic half-back play and that was the case for Parra. Norman ran the game from the first whistle to the last and every dangerous attack the Eels put together Norman was at the focal point. His moment of the match really came when he threw a rocket of a ball to Radrada, which missed out three men, before the winger touched down. A phenomenal piece of skill.

7) Adam Reynolds (Souths) – Inglis and Reynolds were really the two main cogs which saw the Souths machine dismantle Brisbane on Friday hence his position in the team. Reynolds was key in everything Souths did well in both halves of the field however more so in the attacking third. Reynolds renowned for his kicking expertise showed the world again why he is considered one of the best – kicking five conversions from a possible six. However he made up for his one unsuccessful attempt when he sunk a penalty goal from inside his own half. A truly spectacular effort.

8) Kade Snowden (Newcastle) – Props always seem the most difficult position to pick in a team of the week. However Kade

Pat Richards scored 15 of Wests 19 points
Pat Richards scored 15 of Wests 19 points

Snowden was a relatively easy pick. Snowden continuously trudged the ball up against the Warriors and came out on top on most occasions. His solid defensive work with his power going forward helped the Knights battle to an opening weekend victory.

9) James Segeyaro (Penrith) – The 2014 Hooker of the season contunied his great form in the opening round of 2015. Segeyaro commanded the game from start to finish as Penrith defeated last years grand-finalists Canterbury 24-18. Segeyaro also scored try himself when he jumped from hooker and went straight through the Bulldogs defence, something which has become a key feature of the Papua New Guineans game.

10) Aaron Woods (Wests) – Similar to his propping counterpart Snowden, Woods was a real leader in Wests push for their victory at Gold Coast. Richards may have took all the glory but big men such as Woods kept the side in the game in crucial spells when the Titans were on top. Woods was relentless in his go forward even when caught with a few good shots, fully deserved of his place in the team of the week.

11) Boyd Cordner (Sydney) – Cordner was the key danger man, surprisingly, for the Roosters as they defeated North Queensland 4-28. The big second-rower crossed the line on two occasions on the opening weekend. Both of his tries were relatively easy scores after supporting Tuivasa-Sheck for his first before strolling over for his second. However he was in the right place at the right time on both occasions. This on top of a consistent performance as always in defence.

12) Matt Gillett (Brisbane) – Brisbane really didn’t perform well in the opening game against Souths however second-rower Matt Gillett did impress more than the rest of the squad. Gillett got Brisbane’s only score of the game when he took advantage of a gap out wide. As well as being the only Broncos to trouble the Rabbitohs defence he managed to put in a solid defensive performance as well earning him a place in this weeks side.

13) Shaun Fensom (Canberra) – Canberra came out on top in a close encounter with Cronulla and this was in no small part thanks to Shaun Fensom’s display at loose forward. Fensom won his personal duel with Paul Gallen which was pivotal in their small victory. Fensom finished second in hit ups behind only Sia Soliola for his side and racked up an impressive tackle count of 44.