Wigan Warriors moved to within two points of leaders Leeds Rhinos following their win over Catalans Dragons in London.
The historic match, played at The Den, Millwall, drew a crowd of 8,101 as the Warriors took their home game on the road.
Matty Bowen claimed a 22-point haul for himself as Wigan ran out comfortable 42-16 winners.
Head coach Shaun Wane sounded his approval of the event: “If you are a sporting fan you would have been impressed by the game today.”
“If you look at the crowd, over 8,000 people, I am very proud to be British, proud of London and of Wigan and to introduce the game of rugby league to the capital is great. It has to be carried on and seen through for many years and I will always be a massive supporter of it.”
Meanwhile, Challenge Cup winners Leeds suffered something of a Wembley hangover as they lost at home to St Helens – their first defeat since July 9th.
For Keiron Cunningham’s men the 32-18 victory was their first in the Super 8s and ended a run of four straight defeats in league and cup.
Half-back Luke Walsh put in a man of the match display as he showed signs of getting back to his best.
Jon Wilkin also returned for the reigning champions after missing over a month through injury as Saints look primed to make another run towards Old Trafford.
The Rhinos, without the likes of Kallum Watkins, Zak Hardaker and Rob Burrow, still hold a two point lead at the top of the table with three rounds to play.
On Thursday night Huddersfield Giants took a huge step towards guaranteeing themselves a top four place, defeating fifth placed Castleford Tigers 40-26 at John Smith’s Stadium.
However, despite crossing for eight tries against Cas, head coach Paul Anderson wasn’t too impressed with his side’s overall performance: “I thought we were pretty average to be honest,” he is quoted as saying by Sky Sports News.
“There was every emotion going. In patches we showed some brilliance and some of the tries we scored were ridiculous but there was also some stupidity.
“There were some real good things in there but some we need to work on. It’s two points which I’m really happy with and we’re four in front a very spirited Cas. We’re third and we’ve got to make sure we stay there, it’s semi-finals all the way home now.”
Meanwhile, Tigers coach Daryl Powell said he was pleased his side’s effort in defeat in the wake of winger Justin Carney’s suspension by the club: “The disciplinary is coming to a point where it will hopefully be finalised,” Powell told Newspostleader.com.
“For us, we’ve moved on, we’re getting on with it. It’s about the players who are on the field and the people that are important to us. The boys are cracking on and it’s testament to them.
“The boys are pretty disappointed about the result but the unity of the team is pretty evident to see.”
In the final game of the round, already eliminated Warrington Wolves and Hull FC did battle at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
The hosts picked up only their second win in six matches with a dominant 46-16 victory over the Black and Whites.
Winger Kevin Penny grabbed a hat-trick of tries and set another two up as the Wolves ran in nine tries to go sixth in the table.
Tony Smith praised his players efforts following the win: “All credit to the players for their attitudes, some players are staying and some moving on, but they all ripped in regardless and that’s important.
“That was a response to the way we trained over the last two weeks, they have been fantastic and the way they approached it was brilliant. We got the rewards for the hard work.
In contrast, Hull coach Lee Radford blasted his players efforts: “Now we will find out if the boys can sink or swim,” Radford told BBC Radio Humberside.
“At half time it was the first time I’ve been as frustrated as that and the reason is the energy and ticker shown. We approached the game in a mentally soft way.
“We have a kindergarten team and we’re down to the bare bones.”
Defeat leaves Hull FC bottom of the Super 8s with just one win from their last five outings.
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