The Betfred Super League returned at long last this weekend, and we have reviewed all the drama and action from the opening round of fixtures here:
Warrington Wolves 12-16 Leeds Rhinos
Ryan Atkins has spent the whole of the weekend hoping the ground would open up and swallow him whole, after his howler in Warrington Wolves’ defeat to Leeds Rhinos.
With the try line beckoning, the centre tried a spectacular finish in front of the Sky cameras before being bundled into touch by the retreating defence. That sparked a number of social media parodies, making it an uncomfortable couple of days for Atkins.
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) February 2, 2018
If he had crossed for that try the game could have come to a different conclusion, however the Rhinos survived a late scare to take home two points. Ryan Hall scored twice for the visitors with Jamie Jones-Buchanan also crossing for a try.
Bryson Goodwin marked his debut with a try and two goals, while Tom Lineham’s late effort gave Steve Price’s men hope in his first game in charge. It wasn’t to be though, as Leeds started their title defence with a win.
Warrington Wolves squad: Stefan Ratchford, Tom Lineham, Bryson Goodwin, Ryan Atkins, Matty Russell, Kevin Brown, Tyrone Roberts, Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie, Jack Hughes, Ben Murdoch-Masila. Interchange: Ben Westwood, Joe Philbin, George King, Declan Patton.
Tries: Bryson Goodwin, Tom Lineham Goals: Bryson Goodwin 2
Leeds Rhinos squad: Jack Walker, Tom Briscoe, Kallum Watkins, Liam Sutcliffe, Ryan Hall, Joel Moon, Richie Myler, Adam Cuthbertson, Matt Parcell, Brad Singleton, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Carl Ablett, Brett Delaney. Interchanges: Brad Dwyer, Anthony Mullally, Nathaniel Peteru, Jack Ormondroyd.
Tries: Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Ryan Hall 2 Goals: Kallum Watkins 2
Hull FC 38-12 Huddersfield Giants
While the television cameras were at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, Hull FC welcomed Huddersfield Giants to the KCOM Stadium to kick-off their campaign.
The home side completed a second-half rout as they posted 34 unanswered to head into their trip to Australia on the back of a positive performance. FC will be taking on Wigan Warriors in Wollongong in the first ever Super League fixture to take place outside of Europe.
Ryan Hinchcliffe and Umaki Ta’ai made it 12-4 to the Giants after Marc Sneyd’s pair of penalty goals, as the visiting side started brightly. Albert Kelly crossed before the break, before a Fetuli Talanoa hat-trick and further tries from Jake Connor and Jamie Shaul saw the Airlie Birds pick up the win.
Rick Stone described it as a “Jekyll and Hyde” performance, after they had competed so well in the first period before their capitulation. He will be hoping Huddersfield can be more consistent as the season goes on, while Lee Radford will be after more of the same.
Hull FC squad: Jamie Shaul, Bureta Faraimo, Jake Connor, Josh Griffin, Fetuli Talanoa, Albert Kelly, Marc Sneyd, Scott Taylor, Danny Houghton, Mickey Paea, Sika Manu, Mark Minichiello, Dean Hadley. Interchange: Josh Bowden, Masimbaashe Matongo, Jordan Abdull, Jansin Turgut.
Tries: Albert Kelly, Fetuli Talanoa 3, Jake Connor, Jamie Shaul Goals: Marc Sneyd 7
Huddersfield Giants squad: Jake Mamo, Darnell McIntosh, Lee Gaskell, Jordan Turner, Aaron Murphy, Jordan Rankin, Danny Brough, Adam Walne, Adam O’Brien, Ukuma Ta’ai, Ollie Roberts, Michael Lawrence, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Sebastine Ikahihifo, Kruise Leeming, Paul Clough, Daniel Smith
Tries: Ryan Hinchcliffe, Ukuma Ta’ai Goals: Danny Brough 2
St Helens 46-6 Castleford Tigers
Ben Barba may have stolen the show in St Helens victory over Castleford Tigers, however Mark Percival’s hat-trick heroics didn’t go unnoticed.
The centre will have spent the off-season wondering why he couldn’t break into Wayne Bennett’s England side, yet his round one performance showed the national coach what he was missing during the World Cup. Percival and Barba combined a number of times in what could be the start of a formidable partnership, crossing for five tries between them.
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) February 3, 2018
It was the perfect response from Justin Holbrook’s men after they had been labelled as one of the title favourites, showing no signs of pressure in their stunning win.
Castleford will be hugely disappointed with their start, as the 2017 Super League runners-up couldn’t replicate their form of the previous campaign. After just one round it would be premature to end the Tigers’ chances of going one better in 2018, and Daryl Powell will be looking for an immediate response.
St Helens squad: Ben Barba, Tommy Makinson, Ryan Morgan, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Danny Richardson, Kyle Amor, James Roby, Luke Thompson, Dominique Peyroux, Zeb Taia, Jon Wilkin. Interchange: Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Morgan Knowles.
Tries: Ben Barba 2, Zeb Taia 2, Jonny Lomax, Mark Percival 3 Goals: Danny Richardson 7
Castleford Tigers squad: Ben Roberts, Greg Minikin, Jake Webster, Michael Shenton, Greg Eden, Jacob Trueman, Luke Gale, Junior Moors, Paul McShane, James Green, Oliver Holmes, Mike McMeeken, Nathan Massey. Interchange: Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Matt Cook.
Tries: Paul McShane Goals: Luke Gale
Hull KR 6-28 Wakefield Trinity
Hull KR celebrated their return to Super League on Friday night, however Wakefield Trinity winger Tom Johnstone didn’t get the memo as he inspired his side to two points.
He put his 2017 injury woes behind him to race in for a hat-trick, on a night when Bill Tupou and Liam Finn also crossed the try line. It was the perfect start for a Trinity side who came agonisingly close to a play-off spot last year, and they will be hoping to make the top eight once again.
STOP IT @TomJohnstone01 😱
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) February 3, 2018
The Robins couldn’t recover from the early sin-binning of Matty Marsh, as the opening 12 points were posted in his absence. Danny McGuire made his debut for the Hull club, but struggled to make an impression on the game as Chris Clarkson scored their only try of the game.
There could be a tough season ahead for KR, although head coach Tim Sheens doesn’t seem concerned about their round one defeat. He instead insisted, “we lost the game but didn’t get beat” as he drew positives from the loss.
Hull KR squad: Adam Quinlan, Ryan Shaw, Andrew Hefernan, Thomas Minns, Justin Carney, Danny McGuire, Matty Marsh, Lee Jewitt, Tommy Lee, Robbie Mulhern, Maurice Blair, James Greenwood, Chris Clarkson. Interchange: Ben Kavanagh, Liam Salter, Shaun Lunt, Mose Masoe.
Tries: Chris Clarkson Goals: Ryan Shaw
Wakefield Trinity squad: Scott Grix, Ben Jones-Bishop, Reece Lyne, Bill Tupou, Tom Johnstone, Jacob Miller, Liam Finn, David Fifita, Kyle Wood, Anthony England, Matty Ashurst, Justin Horo, Tinirau Arona. Interchange: Ryan Hampshire, Danny Kirmond, Pauli Pauli, Keegan Hirst
Tries: Tom Johnstone 3, Bill Tupou, Liam Finn, Ryan Hampshire Goals: Liam Finn 2
Salford Red Devils 12-40 Wigan Warriors
As far as starts to the season go, it couldn’t have gone much worse for Salford Red Devils as they were dealt a double blow in their loss to Wigan Warriors.
Not only did Ian Watson’s men kick-off their campaign with a comprehensive defeat, they were also handed the news that Manu Vatuvei would be out for the season. The Kiwi winger has undergone surgery on an injury sustained in training.
In stark contrast, it was a brilliant start for Wigan as they fought back from an early deficit to pick up two points. Oliver Gildart and Liam Marshall both crossed for a brace, while Tom Davies, Morgan Escare and Tony Clubb also scored. Shaun Wayne will be looking for a similar outcome when they travel to Australia to face Hull FC in round two.
It can only get better for the Red Devils though, and with plenty of rugby league to come they will have more than enough opportunities to bounce back.
Salford Red Devils squad: Niall Evalds, Jake Bibby, Kris Welham, Junior Sa’u, Greg Johnson, Rob Lui, Gareth O’Brien, Lee Mossop, Josh Wood, Lama Tasi, Josh Jones, Weller Haurake, Tyrone McCarthy. Interchange: Luke Burgess, George Griffin, Jack Littlejohn, Craig Kopczak.
Tries: Kris Welham, Niall Evalds Goals: Gareth O’Brien 2
Wigan Warriors squad: Sam Tomkins, Tom Davies, Dan Sarginson, Oliver Gildart, Liam Marshall, George Williams, Sam Powell, Ben Flower, Thomas Leuluai, Tony Clubb, Joel Tomkins, Liam Farrell, Ryan Sutton. Interchange: Morgan Escare, Willie Isa, Taulima Tautai, Frank-Paul Nuuausala.
Tries: Tom Davies, Oliver Gildart 2, Morgan Escare, Liam Marshall 2, Tony Clubb Goals: Sam Tomkins 6
Widnes Vikings 40–12 Catalans Dragons
Widnes Vikings came up with a clinical performance on Sunday afternoon as they put Catalans Dragons to the sword, much to the delight of the home supporters.
The visitors were more concerned with trying to decapitate their opponents, rather than playing rugby. Joe Mellor in particular copped a number of high shots, with one early on seeing Sam Moa spend 10 minutes in the sin-bin.
Catalans failed to score a single point in the second half, as the Vikings ran away with the contest. Chris Dean helped himself to a brace in an impressive performance, while Chris Houston was his usual industrial self as he led from the front in attack and defence. It was the perfect display from the home side, and they will be hoping it is a sign of things to come for the rest of the season.
Steve McNamara insisted that his side have gone a long way to improving their discipline issues, however the 15-4 penalty count suggests otherwise.
Widnes Vikings squad: Rhys Hanbury, Patrick Ah Van, Charly Runciman, Krisnan Inu, Stefan Marsh, Joe Mellor, Tom Gilmore, Jay Chapelhow, Aaron Heremaia, Greg Burke, Chris Dean, Matt Whitley, Chris Houston. Interchanges: Lloyd White, Wellington Albert, Hep Cahill, Tom Olbison.
Tries: Dean 2, Mellor, Inu, Ah Van, Runciman, Marsh Goals: Gilmore 6
Catalans Dragons: David Mead, Jodie Broughton, Iain Thornely, Brayden Wiliame, Lewis Tierney, Samisoni Langi, Luke Walsh, Sam Moa, Michael McIlorum, Julian Bousquet, Benjamin Jullien, Ben Garcia, Remi Casty. Interchange: Mickael Simon, Antoni Maria, Jason Baitieri, Lucas Albert.
Tries: Mead, Jullien Goals: Walsh 2
Check out all the ladder and stats at our 2018 Super League page below