Warrington Wolves 52 – 24 Catalans Dragons
Warrington sent a message to the rest of the qualifying sides with a demolition of Catalans Dragons in a game that saw 76 points in total. The first half saw three unanswered Warrington tries to open the game, all of which were converted by Declan Patton to put the home side 18-0 up having only played 15 minutes of the game. Remi Casty soon replied for the visitors though, and Luke Walsh further cut the lead to twelve by adding the extras. However, the Wolves’ dominance didn’t stop and Ryan Atkins crossed for his first of the afternoon and Stefan Ratchford for his second to put Warrington 24 points up going into the hal time break.
It was Catalans, however, who opened the scoring in the first half through Krisnan Inu. Ryan Atkins soon replied with his second of the afternoon, before Lewis Tierney scored one of his own for the visitors. While the second half was much closer between the two sides and could only score once more, with Krisnan Inu grabbing another try late on after Wolves’ tries from Lineham and Hiku. Despite Inu scoring within the last ten minutes, it was the Wolves who would have the last laugh and put the two competition points even further out of reach, with Tom Lineham crossing just two minutes from time for his second of the afternoon. It was a very convincing win for Warrington who, on this form, could go the whole of the qualifiers without a loss.
Leigh Centurions 16 – 20 Hull KR
A short range hooking master class from Shaun Lunt secured a second qualifiers win for Hull KR, putting them joint top with Warrington Wolves on four points. Despite being relatively low scoring, the game was one of the most exciting in the qualifiers stage so far. Leigh started well and looked as though they would add another win to their tally when they crossed with a stylish try from just under fifty metres out that was finished by Daniel Mortimer. It took just under twenty minutes for the Robins to reply and this time it was Shaun Lunt who provided the goods from close range. Jamie Ellis converted and the scores were level at 6-6 with fewer than ten minutes of the first half left to play. A pair of Josh Drinkwater penalty goals straddled the half time break and put Leigh four points up going into the final quarter of the game.
Ryan Shaw, however, had other ideas and provided a freakish finish to level the game for the Robins and give Jamie Ellis the opportunity to put his side in the lead with a conversion on the touchline. Ellis obliged and Hull led by two, before Ellis added a 65th minute penalty goal to stretch their lead to four. The two sides trade blows before Leigh cracked the KR defence with a muscular effort to the right of the sticks. Josh Drinkwater added the extras to regain the lead once more. The two-point gap made for an extremely tense final ten minutes with Hull chasing the win and it was Shaun Lunt took another opportunity to dive over from close range and steal a late win for his side. Ellis topped off Lunt’s brace with another conversion and the Robins walked away from the Leigh Sports Village with an invaluable 20-16 away win over one of their main rivals in the qualifiers.
Halifax 12 – 36 Widnes Vikings
Widnes produced a convincing performance away at Halifax to get the first win of their qualifiers campaign. The Vikings scored 18 unanswered points in the first half with tries from Chris Bridge, Lloyd White and Charly Runciman, all of which were converted by Lloyd White to put the visiting side out to a seemingly unassailable lead. The second half was more competitive despite Corey Thompson scoring two back-to-back tries early in the second half to put the Vikings 26-0 up. Halifax, however, wouldn’t go the whole game scoreless with Ben Heaton scoring a double in the middle part of the second half to make it seven tries in his last three games. Despite his double, Halifax couldn’t muster any more points for a late comeback and let in another two Widnes tries late on, from which the visiting side won the game 36-12 and sealed their first win of the qualifiers.
London Broncos 32 – 32 Featherstone Rovers
This was one of the most bizarre games of the season as well as one of the most disappointing for London Broncos, who all but waved their chances of Super League qualification goodbye with what was an almighty capitulation. The Broncos got off to a good start, scoring three tries in quick succession through Jay Pitts, Elliot Kear and William Barthau, with Jarrod Sammut converting only one. It looked rather promising for the Broncos, but the ensuing first half Featherstone come back was all too foreboding. Featherstone replied through Connor Farrell and Jonathan Davies, and with Hardman only converting one, the home side went into half time in the lead at 14-10 up.
Featherstone carried their momentum through the half time break and scored another two tries at the start of the second half to take a 22-14 lead with fewer than thirty minutes to play. The Broncos, however, seem to have a knack of slipping out of such holes in the knick of time this season and it looked as though they just might do it. Sammut catalysed the comeback with a solo effort just a few minutes later and converted his own try, before Mark Ioane crossed for a rare try and Sammut slotted another one to put the Broncos back in the lead by four. Andy Ackers got over within fifteen minutes of time to push the Broncos lead to eight, and with Sammut adding the extras the Broncos led by ten points.
After scoring eighteen unanswered points, the Broncos led by ten points with just over ten minutes to play. Featherstone, however, built some pressure at the back end and capitalised, leaving Luke Briscoe with lost of space to finish in the right hand corner. Hardman missed the conversion, leaving the score at 32-26 with ten minutes to play and it wasn’t until the 78th minute before yet more Featherstone pressure told. Chris Ulugia crossed in the left hand corner off the back of an ugly piece off attacking play off a 5th tackle kick from Featherstone. The try left Hardman to level the scores and put the cherry on top of a massive capitulation from the Broncos, and he did just that. London tried their hardest to recover a short kick off in the dying stages of the game to no avail and it was too late to salvage a win, so the game ended as one of the highest scoring draws seen in recent history, with the scores level at 32-32.
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