Widnes Vikings 14 – 28 Warrington Wolves
Widnes made a promising start to their Qualifiers campaign but fell foul of a second half comeback from Warrington that saw last year’s grand finalists run away fourteen point winners. Jack Hughes opened the scoring for the visitors but it wasn’t long before the home side replied through Jack Buchanan. Despite being under the cloud of Rangi Chase’s drugs ban Widnes started the first half very well, adding a second try to go 12-6 in front just 10 minutes before half time. In fact, it came from their other stand off, Joe Mellor went under the sticks after running an inside support line off Lloyd White, who subsequently slotted the corresponding conversion.
Widnes continued to put pressure on Warrington at the start of the second half and were rewarded with a 47th minute penalty that stretched their lead to 8 points. Warrington rallied and Tom Lineham scored two minutes later with a sublime finish in the corner. Widnes’ defence held firm for the next ten minutes but and it looked as though they might just get the much needed win before Warrington scored three unanswered tries, two conversions and a penalty goal in the last 18 minutes of the game. At the final whistle you could only feel as though it was a missed opportunity for Widnes Vikings and a bullet dodged for the Wolves. Regardless, it looks as though the two sides won’t have too much trouble staying up and will no doubt relish playing inferior championship sides.
Catalans Dragons 20 – 18 London Broncos
If you didn’t see this one, you dodged a bullet. For what was supposed to be a high scoring game full of skill and talent, it materialised as quite the opposite. The only astounding skill on show was the desperate and dogged London defence that kept out numerous repeat sets from a Catalans side that lacked any sort of attacking potency.
In fact, it was the Broncos who broke the deadlock early in the game with William Barthau carving through the Catalans defence to score against his old side. Sammut converted and the Broncos were pushed out to a shock 6-0 lead. The Catalans side didn’t leave it long to reply though, with Richie Myler latching on to an inch perfect Luke Walsh reverse chip. With the stand off looking as though he had knocked it on in the act of squeezing the ball into the in goal area, Kendall made a well-informed decision to send it up as a no-try and Robert Hicks made his weekly contentious decision and overturned the on-field call to award a try.
Walsh converted to level the scores and the two sides continued to slog it out in the searing Perpignan heat with one-up carries being the order of the day. Despite their game plan playing into the hands of the French giants, it was the Broncos who came out on top once more. After countless impressive defensive efforts on their own line, London went up the other end and capitalised of a Catalans error to score first phase of a scrum 30m out from the Dragons’ line. It was, in fact, the Broncos’ very own ‘Dragon’ who crossed to put the Championship side back in the lead.
The Broncos struggled to hold on to their lead and defended repeat sets own their own line before eventually letting Brayden Williame cross on the stroke of half time. Luke Walsh slotted the conversion and put the home side into the lead and it took a long while before Jarod Sammut could level the scores with two points of his own from a second half penalty. Walsh knocked over a penalty of his own just five minutes later before Louis Anderson all but put the game to bed with a try in the 67th minute.
Walsh kept his 100% record off the tee for the day and added the extras to put the Catalans side 20-12 up with just over ten minutes to play. Broncos rallied hard to mount a comeback effort and after building pressure in the closing stages, Mark Ioane took a quick tap to barge over as the final hooter went and Sammut converted but it was too little to late for the boys from London, going down 20-18 to the Super League side.
Featherstone Rovers 12 – 38 Leigh Centurions
Featherstone hosted Leigh Centurions in the first qualifiers clash between a Super League and Championship side. Unfortunately for the home side the gap in class was clear from the off with Leigh scoring two tries in quick succession within the first 10 minutes of the game. Featherstone replied, however, with a try from former Super League stalwart Darrell Griffin. After cutting the Centurions’ lead to 6 with a conversion from Ian Hardman, Featherstone soon leaked more points with Brown crossing for Leigh in the middle part of the first half to put Leigh ten points clear at half time.
Leigh maintained pressure through the second half and scored three unanswered tries in the first minute of the second half despite Featherstone looking threatening on numerous occasions. Misi Taulapapa got a try back for the visitors with fourteen minutes to play but it was too little too late, as the Leigh Centurions halted any chance of a comeback with a great finish from Greg McNally just five minutes from time. Leigh walked away from their old rivals with a 38-12 win and two invaluable competition points to put them a step closer to safety. If Featherstone Rovers are to have a chance in this middle eight they’ll need to do a lot better.
Hull KR 26 – 22 Halifax RLFC
A late Hull KR comeback clinched a much-needed win for the Robins to avenge their defeat to Halifax last week. Kieran Moss secured a quickfire double in the first ten minutes of the game to put Hull eight points in the lead. It wasn’t long before Halifax replied though, with Ben Heaton Crossing in the 10th minute and after Steve Tyrer added the extras Fax only trailed by two. Hull extended their lead soon after as Matty Marsh dummied and sliced through the Halifax defence to score. Jamie Ellis added the extras and the eight-point lead was restored. Halifax, however, scored two tries in the second part of the first half with Ben Heaton finishing off two well-worked moves to complete his hat-trick and put his side into the lead at half time.
Halifax continued their one man crusade with Heaton crossing once more for Halifax to lead 22-14 with just under half an hour to play. Halifax couldn’t replicate their performance the week prior and conceded two Hull tries in the closing stages from Lawler and Scruton respectively. Jamie Ellis converted both to make the ultimate difference between the two sides as Hull maintained their 100% home record against Halifax. The robins would have expected to do a bit better in this one and will be disappointed with their current form going into games with Super League opposition. On the other hand, Halifax look as though they are going to make this a very competitive qualifiers competition off the back of this performance.