Featherstone Rovers vs Leigh Centurions
Last time out
Featherstone travelled to Toulouse off the back of a tough loss to Halifax at home. Both sides had nothing to play four, with Featherstone unreachable in fourth with Toulouse three points back in fifth and one game to go. Despite the circumstances the two sides provided a lot of entertainment for the fans. Kuni Minga opened the scoring for Toulouse but it didn’t take long for Antony Thackeray replied with a try of his own. Toulouse then scored to on the bounce to go ten points into the lead. Featherstone replied once more before the two sides traded tries again before the half time break. Rovers got off to a good start in the first half and scored through Jason Walton to go into the lead but Toulouse came back with two tries deep into the second half to put the game to bed with the final score line standing at 32-26.
By contrast, Leigh Centurions comprehensively beat Salford Red Devils at the Leigh Sports Village to end a four game losing streak. Leigh opened the scoring early through Greg McNally and backed up the try with two more before half time. The second half was a tighter affair but Leigh were first to get on the score board just 5 minutes from time with a drop goal from Josh Drinkwater to put any sort of Salford come back out of reach. The Centurions continued to pile the pressure on despite having a commanding lead and Greg McNally scored once more with just two minutes to go. Drinkwater added the extras to complete a seamless kicking performance from the tee.
Ben Reynolds and Josh Drinkwater will play their championship foes from last year and will need to put in a big performance to ensure their side comes out on top this Saturday. On the other hand, Jamie Thackeray and Kyle Briggs will need to have the game of their lives in order to keep their team in this clash. Both sides have very strong packs, albeit the Centurions’ a bit stronger, and will need their stand offs to marshal them around the pitch and get their team on the front foot.
Leigh look stronger all over the park and should be able to gain momentum through their forwards for their backs to play off. They come in off the back of a good performance against a top four side and should carry the good form into this one. Leigh by 12.
Featherstone: Bostock, Thackeray, Tagg, Farrell, Igbinedion, Griffin, Mariano, Hardman, Lockwood, Davies, Hardcastle, Carlile, Briggs, Briscoe, Wildie, Taulapapa, Moore, Brooks, Turner.
Leigh: Maria, Vea, Reynolds, Paterson, Mortimer, Tickle, Stewart, Richards, McNally, Hansen, Drinkwater, Burr, Hood, Fleming, Dawson, Higham, Brown, Langi, Hopkins.
Catalans Dragons vs London Broncos
Last time out
Catalans Dragons pushed the league leaders, Castleford Tigers, close in what was one of the most exciting finishes to a Super League game this season. In the end, the Catalans side went down 24-32 but at numerous points looked as though they might win the game. Castleford got off to a great start and found themselves 14-0 up after just 19 minutes played. However they soon got a taste of their own medicine and conceded three unanswered tries off the back of some questionable officiating. Castleford looked as though they were going to go in to half time four points down with just five seconds to play, but Mike McMeeken drew a penalty on the half way and Zak Hardaker nailed a huge penalty to reduce the gap to two.
The momentum had turned once more and Castleford found themselves in the driving seat at the start of the first half. The visitors’ pressure paid off and Greg Minikin crossed in the 53rd minute to reclaim the lead. Fifteen minutes later, Vincent Duport replied for the home side and Gigot converted to take a two-point lead into the last 10 minutes of the game. Castleford didn’t give up though and with 5 minutes to go Jy Hitchcox provided the finish of the season to dot down for his second of the game. Luke Gale converted to put the visitors in the lead by four but the scoring wouldn’t stop there, as Paul McShane crossed for the final try of the game to complete a sensational come back for the league leaders.
On the other hand, London Broncos smashed Batley Bulldogs in the capital city 13 wins in their last 14 games. The Broncos dominated from the start, scoring through Elliot Kear before adding two more tries later in the half to go into the half time break 18-0 up. The tries didn’t stop there though, with the Broncos scoring a quickfire treble on the other side of half time, in which Elliot Kear completed his hat-trick. A Batley try provided some much needed relief for the away side before London Broncos scored another barrage of tries in the last 15 minutes to run away 58-4 winners. London’s emphatic win over a very competent Batley side was characteristic of the kind of form they’ll take into the qualifiers eight.
The Catalans forward pack has been blighted by both injuries and ill discipline throughout the season that has often checked their momentum and cohesion in games. As a result, the French sides forward pack has massively underperformed but with all the NRL and Super Legaue experience they should have no trouble dominating the less experienced and lighter weight Broncos pack. However, if London can disrupt the Catalans Dragons up front, they’ll go a long way to winning the game because the Catalans Dragons have struggled most of the season having not had a solid dominant platform from their forwards. It looks like the forward battle is only going one way though, and that’s to the massive pack of the home side.
Catalans come into this one off the back of a great home performance against the league leaders but there’s no better time to take on the Catalans Dragons when considering their inconsistency this season. It would be great to see London perform well down in Perpignan but their record at the Stade Gilbert Brutus is atrocious having only won two of the last ten games in France. Six of the last seven meetings between the two in France have seen fifty points or more scored so we shouldn’t be short of points, but they’ll most likely in the favour of the home side who look too strong for the London outfit. Catalans by 26+.
Catalans: Gigot, Inu, Williame, Walsh, Myler, Moa, Aiton, Casty, Anderson, Horo, Bird, Bousquet, Garcia, Baitieri, Thornley, Albert, Margalet, Navarrete, Tierney
London: Ackers, Barthau, Battye, Boudebza, Channing, Davis, Evans, Gee, Hellewell, Ioane, Kear, Pitts, Pewhairangi, Roqica, Sammut, Spencer, Walker, Wilde, Williams
Hull KR vs Halifax
Last time out
These two sides met last time out and Halifax came out on top winning well 28-6 after having beaten two other top four championship sides in their two games prior. Halifax led from the front after scoring just six minutes in through Ben Johnston and Steve Tyrer converted to extend their lead to six. Hull KR replied through a Kieran Moss try and Jamie Ellis converted to level the scores with twenty minutes of the first half left to play. The two sides traded blows for the middle part of the first half and it was Hull KR who broke first, with Halifax scoring three tries on the bounce in the last eight minutes of the half to go into the half time break 24-6 up. The second half was a massive contrast to the first with Steve Tyrer added the only points of the second half with two penalty goals that sealed the win for the home side.
Hull KR will need to re-assert their dominance through the pack in this one after getting beaten very well last week by Halifax. The Robins might have extra muscle in this one in the form of Mose Masoe, who has been included in the 19 man-squad after signing from St George Illawara. However, if Halifax can replicate last week’s performance then they’ll be in the mix again. Whatever happens, this battle is shaping up to be a cracking game.
Hull KR should get back on top in this clash at home and get their qualifiers campaign off to a good start. Hull KR by 10.
Hull KR: Minns, Salter, Shaw, Ellis, Scruton, Lunt, Blair, Addy, Dockar-Clay, Lawler, Marsh, Mulhern, Heffernan, Moss, Kavanagh, Carney, Jewitt, Atkin, Masoe
Halifax: Barber, Boyle, Calcott, Cahalane, Douglas, Grady, Grix, Heaton, Johnston, Kaye, Mammone, Moore, Morris, Murrell, Sharp, Sio, Tyrer, Woodburn-Hall, Worrincy