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Super League Round 18 Review

Leeds Rhinos 24-31 Castleford Tigers

Castleford Tigers held off a Leeds Rhinos comeback to ground out a 31-24 victory at Headingley Carnegie Stadium.

For the second successive week the Tigers raced into an 18-0 lead. The impressive Grant Millington opened the scoring and from a Luke Gale 40-20, then his half-back partner Liam Finn scampered over. Michael Shenton crowned his 300th career appearance with a try when he dispossessed Carl Ablett to race clear. With Gale adding all three conversions the Leeds crowd sat in a stunned silence.

The never say die attitude Leeds have so often shown, reared its head when Ablett made amends for his previous error by touching down. Danny McGuire then allowed Ryan Hall to cross for his eight try of the campaign, with the conversion from Liam Sutcliffe going wide of the mark.

With their advantage slimming, Castleford coach Daryl Powell brought on former Leeds Rhinos favourite Ryan Bailey – with his first involvement being a big tackle on scrum-half Rob Burrow. There was little Bailey, nor his team-mates could do when Paul Aiton fed potential Man of Steel Adam Cuthbertson to touch down to set up to second-half nicely.

But Castleford furthered their advantage, when Denny Solomona stretched the visitors lead to eight and Gale found the mark from the conversion attempt. Kevin Sinfield, who was named on the bench at kick-off, was introduced into the game and within two minutes his side had scored through Jimmy Keinhorst – leaving the home side two points adrift.

A Kevin Sinfield penalty restored parity but Finn put Cas back into the lead when he slotted over a drop-goal. The two points were sealed when Ash Handley dropped a high bomb allowing Solomona to grab his second of the game.

St Helens 30-14 Wigan Warriors

St Helens climbed to the top of Super Leader after a hard-fought 30-14 win over bitter rivals Wigan Warriors.

What was billed as a Grand Final rematch, which saw Ben Flower infamously sent off, had the same outcome this time around with Saints prevailing. That trend threatened to change when Dan Sarginson crossed in the corner after a George Williams cut-out pass and Matty Smith added the extras.

Saints were slow out of the blocks but found their rhythm with two tries in the space of four minutes to go ahead. Good work from Jordan Turner saw Adam Swift squeeze in at the corner before Turner himself got in on the act after Travis Burns had kicked a 40-20.

Neither tries were converted by Mark Percival and Wigan regained the lead just before the interval. Joe Burgess, who had earlier suffered a head knock, showed no signs of injury as he collected Burns’ stray pass to race all of 90 metres but Smith failed to convert leaving the scores 10-8 at half-time to the visitors.

Burns made up for his error when Matty Bowen fumbled a grubber kick allowing the half-back to gather an easy four points, with Percival this time added the conversion. Back came Wigan for their third try of the night through Joel Tomkins who finished off a neat move. Percival kicked his side back as Wigan fell away with some uncharacteristic errors. Shannon McDonnell was gifted a try when Bowen made another mistake before Wilkin added his name to the try sheet when he gathered Sarginson’s ball. Percival added the extras and rounded off the win with a late penalty to add extra gloss to the scoreline.

Catalans Dragons 20-14 Hull FC

Catalans Dragons secured a 20-14 victory over in-form Hull FC at the Stade Gilbert Brutus to further their grip on a spot in the top eight of the competition.

The Dragons, who were missing Todd Carney, Michael Oldfield, Vincent Duport, Willie Tonga, Oliver Elima and the suspended Jeff Lima, made it seven victories out of nine on home soil. But the return of half-back Thomas Bosc proved pivotal with the Frenchman playing an influential part in the home sides win.

Despite Laurent Frayssinous’ side having the better of the early exchanges it was Hull that scored first after a break from Joe Westerman saw him offload the ball to Jordan Rankin who scored under the posts – with Marc Sneyd adding an easy two points.

Catalans levelled the game after good work from Remi Casty allowed Bosc to cross the whitewash with Scott Dureau restoring parity. A Sneyd penalty did little to dampen to home sides’ enthusiasm and scored twice before half-time. First Tony Gigot intercepted a pass allowing him to race 40 metres before Gregory Mounis forced his way over seeing his side have a ten point advantage at the break.

The ever impressive Mark Minichiello gave Hull hope when he barged his way over the try line despite the best attempts of no less than three Catalans players. Four points separated the sides going into the latter stages of the game as Sneyd nailed the conversion attempt.

Fetuli Talanoa thought he had got his side right back into the contest but his try was chalked off after the video referee saw an obstruction in the build-up.

Dureau slotted over a penalty six minutes from time as Catalans held on for the two points in a vital win for the club.

Hull KR 38-16 Widnes Vikings

Ken Sio scored a hat-trick as Hull KR overcame Widnes Vikings 38-16 to close the gap on the top eight places.

The Robins began the game brightly with Maurice Blair and Albert Kelly pulling the strings in the absence of Terry Campese. Their endeavour was rewarded when Kris Welham touched down after his initial break – with Josh Mantellato nailing a tricky conversion from the sidelines.

The visitors hit back through Stefan Marsh when a high bounced fooled Ben Cockayne but Jack Owens was unable to add the extras. Welham then turned provided when he collected a high kick to feed Mantellato who scored and converted.

Super League’s Player of the Month Kevin Brown then reduced the deficit with Owens successfully converting to leave the scores 12-10 in the home sides’ favour. Mantellato grabbed his brace finishing off a good move before hooker John Boudebza brilliantly worked some space to find Kelly who raced 50 metres to score under the posts. Ken Sio got the first of his three just before half-time crossing in the corner from a scrum set-play making the score 26-10 at half-time.

The game was marred by injuries to prop James Green and Mantellato with the latter being stretchered off after lengthy treatment. Sio grabbed his second when he collected a flicked offload from Graeme Horne. Man of the match, Kelly took over the kicking duties in the absence of Mantellato and added the extras giving the Robins a 32-10 advantage.

Chris Dean crossed for a mere consolation try but Rovers furthered their lead when Sio completed his hat-trick with Kelly converting for a crucial 38-16 win.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 16-24 Salford Red Devils

Salford spoiled Brian Smith’s first game in charge of Wakefield after a 24-16 victory over Super League’s basement club.

Smith was forced into changes with the news of Dean Collis and Lopini Paea returning to Australia although they did welcome back former Leeds Rhinos player Ian Kirke for only his third appearance of the season.

The omens weren’t good for the Wildcats when a Matt Ryan error allowed Salford full-back Niall Evalds to scamper 60 metres in the eighth minute. Greg Johnson then fed scrum-half Theo Fages for the opening try of the fixture.

It got worse for Wakefield when a Rangi Chase 40-20 gave Salford great field position which then saw prop Scott Taylor power over after on loan Logan Tomkins had been held up just short of the whitewash.

Dan Smith got Wakefield on the scoresheet with a similar effort to reduce the arrears but again were their own worst enemies as Cory Paterson charged down Tim Smith’s kick, allowing Harrison Hansen to follow up with his first try for the club with Josh Griffin kicking his third of the match.

With the words of Brian Smith still ringing in the ears of the Wakefield players, Kirke crashed over for a second Wildcats try to give the hope. Robert Hicks then disallowed Chris Riley’s effort and Hansen further dashed any Wakefield revival with his second try of the game with Griffin stretching the lead to 24-10. Danny Kirmond grabbed a late try but it proved nothing more than a consolation as Salford ended their run of eight successive defeats and extending Wakefield’s winless run to 15.

Huddersfield Giants 30-19 Warrington Wolves

Huddersfield marked Danny Brough’s 400th appearance with a 30-19 win in a fiercely contested game against Warrington Wolves.

Daryl Clark opened the scoring from close range as early as the fifth minute, before Huddersfield’s Jake Connor levelled the game after confusion between Richie Myler and Joel Monaghan.

Gareth O’Brien try and drop goal made it 13-6 at the interval but Jodie Broughton dived over five minutes after the restart to cut the advantage. Amid the celebrations a mass brawl ensued involving both sets of players which ended up with referee Phil Bentham handing yellow cards to Brough and Anthony England. Scrum-half Jamie Ellis held his nerve after the delay and slotted over the extras to make the score 13-12 to Warrington.

The away side extended their lead when Ben Harrison pounced on the ball from close-range after Huddersfield had coughed up possession.

Huddersfield then took hold of the game with Jermaine McGillvary and Jared Simpson both scoring tries and Ellis kicking two drop goals before McGillvary rounded off the win with his second late on. There was still time for more fireworks as Connor and Clarke were sin-binned for their involvement in an altercation.

The 30-19 victory for the Giants lifted them upto fourth in the table only three points behind third placed Wigan Warriors.

Published on June 15 2015 for Rugby AM.

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