Warrington Wolves vs Halifax RLFC
Last time out
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.
By contrast, Halifax were subjected to the second loss of their qualifiers campaign by the first Super League side they have faced. 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.
It’s got to be Heaton vs Atkins. Both are pivotal attacking players for the their respective teams and while Atkins is coming into this off the back of a brace against Catalans, Heaton is coming in off the back of a four timer against Hull KR and a brace against Widnes. They’re both in fine form so it’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top out of these two as the top plays bottom. One thing’s for sure; Heaton will score.
Warrington will subject Halifax to their third loss of the qualifiers campaign. They’re too strong in the pack and should have them in every position over the park. The only redeeming feature for Halifax is Ben Heaton who, at the moment, is a man on fire with six tries in his last two games. Warrington, however, are off the back of an easy win against Catalans and should have plenty in the tank this week to replicate the performance. Warrington by 20.
Warrington Wolves: Ryan Atkins, Kevin Brown, Mike Cooper, Brad Dwyer, Peta Hiku, Chris Hill, Jack Hughes, Jack Johnson, Benjamin Jullien, George King, Tom Lineham, Declan Patton, Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford, Matty Russell, Andre Savelio, Ashton Sims, Morgan Smith, Ben Westwood.
Halifax RLFC: Ed Barber, Ryan Boyle, Chester Butler, Will Calcott, Jacob Fairbank, Shane Grady, Simon Grix, Ben Heaton, Ben Johnston, Ben Kaye, Alex Mammone, Brandon Moore, Elliot Morris, Scott Murrell, James Saltonstall, Michael Sio, Steve Tyrer, James Woodburn-Hall, Rob Worrincy.
Catalans Dragons vs Leigh Centurions
Last time out
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.
On the other hand, Catalans were sent home from the Haliwell Jones off the back of 52-24 drubbing at the hands of Warrington. The first half saw Catalans concede three unanswered tries, before scoring one of their own and conceding another two tries to go into half time 24 points down. 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.
This will be won up front. I find myself highlighting the Dragons’ potential in the pack every week, but the performance to match still hasn’t come. This game though, is without doubt the most important game in the two teams’ seasons so far so we should see the best from the Catalans pack. On the other hand, Leigh’s pack doesn’t pull any punches either and in parts of the season have exceeded expectations but have often lacked consistency. Both packs need to stand up and be counted now more than ever and we should see a massive battle up front in this one.
Catalans should have the edge here with the home advantage. They’ve got the better pack and top class backs to finish things off, however, they haven’t quite hit their straps all over the park this season so it’ll be interesting to see how they step up to this challenge. Leigh on the other hand will need to upset Catalans, but the Perpignan climate is a far cry from that of Greater Manchester and they may struggle to adjust. It should be close but Catalans will edge it. Catalans Dragons by 6.
Catalans Dragons: Paul Aiton, Lucas Albert, Louis Anderson, Greg Bird, Jason Baiteri, Julian Bousquet, Rémi Casty, Vincent Duport, Benjamin Garcia, Justin Horo, Krisnan Inu, Thibaut Margalet, Sam Moa, Richie Myler, Romain Navarrete, Lewis Tierney, Luke Walsh, Brayden Wiliame, Fouad Yaha.
Leigh Centurions: Mitch Brown, Lachlan Burr, Matty Dawson, Josh Drinkwater, Matthew Fleming, Harrison Hansen, Adam Higson, Micky Hingham, Sam Hopkins, Samisoni Langi, Atoni Maria, Gregg McNally, Daniel Mortimer, Cory Paterson, Eloi Pelisseier, Ben Reynolds, Greg Richards, Glenn Stewart, Atelea Vea.