Jamie Barwick previews the second stage of Super League fixtures over Easter and there are some vital matches.
Widnes Vikings vs St Helens
The second game of the busy Easter schedule pits Widnes Vikings against St Helens with both teams recording defeats on Good Friday and similarly eager for a response.
Denis Betts saw his side come out second best in the Cheshire derby with Warrington winning 28-10, a result which also saw the Wolves leapfrog the Vikings into top spot. Widnes however, who were without playmaker Kevin Brown, established a 10-0 lead after 25 minutes after tries from Tom Gilmore and Rhys Hanbury. But back fought Warrington with two scores in as many minutes through Chris Sandow and Tom Lineham as the two sides went into the break ten points apiece.
Second-half efforts from Kurt Gidley, Ryan Atkins and Ben Currie ensured Warrington secured their best start to a campaign for 66 years.
For St Helens they slipped to a second consecutive defeat against their fierce rivals Wigan Warriors losing 24-12 in a sell-out derby at Langtree Park. The visitors established a commanding 16-0 lead at half-time which they never looked like relinquishing after first-half tries from Dom Manfredi, Sam Powell and the returning Joel Tomkins.
Joe Greenwood looked to spark Saints into life when he crossed prior to Josh Charnley having a score ruled out. But any mini revival was halted when Matty Smith ghosted through a gap to seal the win with Theo Fages scoring a late consolation try.
Eager to avoid three successive defeats for the first time this season, Keiron Cunningham has made just one change to his squad seeing Lama Tasi miss out and Ricky Bailey called into the 19.
Widnes make two changes with Danny Walker and Hep Cahill replacing Stefan Marsh and Lloyd White as they look to get back to winning ways at the first time of asking.
Widnes Vikings: Rhys Hanbury, Corey Thompson, Patrick Ah Van, Joe Mellor, Eamon O’Carroll, Manase Manukafoa, Chris Houston, Hep Cahill, Chris Dean, Setaimata Sa, Gil Dudson, Macgrass Leuluai, Alex Gerrard, Tom Gilmore, Matt Whitley, Ed Chamberlain, Aaron Heremaia, Sam Brooks, Danny Walker
St Helens: Tommy Makinson, Jordan Turner, Travis Burns, Luke Walsh, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Kyle Amor, Jon Wilkin, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Greg Richards, Andre Savelio, Luke Thompson, Dominique Peyroux, Theo Fages, Joe Greenwood, Matty Dawson, Jack Owens, Shannon McDonnell, Ricky Bailey
Prediction: Widnes Vikings by 8
Hull FC vs Warrington Wolves
Hull FC return to home soil after a stunning comeback win over their nearby rivals Hull Kingston Rovers to take on high-flying Warrington Wolves.
It was the Black and Whites who kicked-off the Easter fixtures travelling to the KC Lightstream Stadium in the early kick-off looking to put down a marker but instead came unstuck for the best part of an hour. Tries from Ryan Shaw. Ken Sio and Iain Thornley had given the home side a 20-0 lead which seemed well beyond Hull FC at that stage.
Jamie Shaul’s long range coupled with Danny Houghton’s score close to the line gave the away side a glimmer of hope and the home crowds fears were exacerbated when the returning Mahe Fonua burst over from a scrum play. Steve Michaels completed the fightback when he side-stepped Ben Cockayne allowing Marc Sneyd to kick the conversion sealing a 22-20 victory.
The test facing Lee Radford’s men is big coming up against an unbeaten Warrington Wolves who reached the summit of the table after a 28-10 win over rivals Widnes Vikings and thus cementing their best start to a league campaign in 66 years.
Having found themselves 10-0 after tries from Tom Gilmore and Rhys Hanbury the Wolves fought their way back with two tries in as many minutes from Chris Sandow and Tom Lineham. Second-half efforts from Kurt Gidley, Ryan Atkins and Ben Currie ensured Warrington the two points as they hit the top of the table.
Both sides won their away fixtures against each other in the regular season by a point but Warrington had the last laugh claiming a 46-16 win in the Supers 8s.
Hull have made one change to their side with Carlos Tuimavave, who suffered concussion in the early stages of Friday’s win, being replaced by youngster Jordan Abdull.
Tony Smith has made two changes seeing Jack Johnson and Declan Patton replacing Benjamin Jullien and Joe Philbin. The game will see a return to the KC Stadium for former Hull FC players Joe Westerman and Tom Lineham who both joined the Wolves in the off-season.
Hull FC: Jordan Abdull, Josh Bowden, Gareth Ellis, Mahe Fonua, Chris Green, Danny Houghton, Sika Manu, Steve Michaels, Mark Minichiello, Curtis Naughton, Feka Paleaaesina, Frank Pritchard, Jamie Shaul, Marc Sneyd, Scott Taylor, Jordan Thompson, Danny Washbrook, Liam Watts, Kirk Yeaman
Warrington Wolves: Ryan Atkins, Daryl Clark, Jordan Cox, Ben Currie, Rhys Evans, Kurt Gidley, Chris Hill, Jack Hughes, Jack Johnson, George King, Tom Lineham, Declan Patton, Kevin Penny, Stefan Ratchford, Matty Russell, Chris Sandow, Ashton Sims, Joe Westerman, Ben Westwood
Prediction: Warrington Wolves by 6
Wigan Warriors vs Hull Kingston Rovers
Wigan Warriors return to the DW Stadium for the first time after losing their 21-month unbeaten record when they host Hull Kingston Rovers.
The Warriors were defeated 18-12 by Widnes Vikings last time on home soil but bounced back with a derby 24-12 victory at Langtree Park over St Helens. The Cherry and Whites established a commanding 16-0 half-time lead after tries from Dom Manfredi, Sam Powell and the returning Joel Tomkins, and in truth never looked like relinquishing their hold on the game.
Joe Greenwood threatened to spark Saints into life when he crossed prior to Josh Charnley having a score ruled out. Any mini revival was halted when Matty Smith ghosted through a gap to seal the win – with Theo Fages’ late try a mere consolation.
Hull Kingston Rovers must be wondering how they let the two points slip away from them against Hull FC. The Red and Whites seemed to have full control of the game being 20-0 up but ended up losing 22-20 as the side collapsed under the pressure.
Jamie Shaul and Danny Houghton gave the away side a glimmer of hope and this gave Hull the impetus to press on in an astonishing final 15 display. Mahe Fonue broke the defence from a scrum play before Steve Michaels sidestepped his way across the line, seeing Marc Sneyd kick the conversion and sealing the two points much to the disbelief of the Red and White supporters.
In terms of team news, Wigan Warriors have been forced into one change which sees Ben Flower, who according to head coach Shaun Wane has a tight hamstring, not being risked and replaced by Luke Waterworth.
James Webster has named several youngsters in his 19-man squad, Will Oakes, Kieran Moran, Joe Wardill and Joe Cator all come into the side. Chris Clarkson, James Green, Albert Kelly and Josh Mantellato all won’t be risked as the injury list continues to mount in East Yorkshire.
Wigan Warriors: John Bateman, Joe Bretherton, Greg Burke, Josh Charnley, Tony Club, Anthony Gelling, Oliver Gildart, Nick Gregson, Dom Manfredi, Lee Mossop, Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Powell, Dan Sarginson, Matty Smith, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Lewis Tierney, Joel Tomkins, Luke Waterworth
Hull Kingston Rovers: Mitch Allgood, Maurice Blair, John Boudebza, Joe Cator, Ben Cockayne, Kieran Dixon, James Greenwood, Graeme Horne, George Lawler, Matty Marsh, Kieran Moran, Robbie Mulhern, Will Oakes, Ryan Shaw, Ken Sio, Iain Thornley, Dane Tilse, Joe Wardill, Adam Walker
Prediction: Wigan Warriors by 14
Leeds Rhinos vs Wakefield Wildcats
Wakefield Wildcats head to Headingley Stadium to take on Leeds Rhinos on the back of their first win under new head coach Chris Chester.
The Wildcats picked up their second win of the season when they stunned Huddersfield Giants 36-22 in Chester’s first home fixture. The win moves Wakefield above Hull Kingston Rovers and leaves Huddersfield rooted to the bottom of the table as the pressure mounts on Paul Anderson.
It was in fact the Giants who opened the scoring through Jermaine McGillvary before Wakefield hit back with three tries from Tom Johnstone, Michael Sio and Reece Lyne. Jake Connor got the first of his two tries just before the break and Danny Brough kicked a penalty for an 18-14 half-time scoreline.
The Giants did level the game when Connor secured his brace but Brough failed to take advantage of the conversion. Further tries for the home side including a try of the second contender from Johnstone which saw him race the full length of the field evading no less than three Huddersfield players saw the Wildcats won 36-22.
Leeds Rhinos’ differing campaign continued when they took to the field in a sold out Mend-a-Hose Jungle to take on Castleford Tigers. However the Rhinos, as they have done so five times this season, fell short and were defeated in a narrow 18-14 loss.
Andy Lynch and Jake Webster both scored tries in the first-half but the Rhinos hit back through Joel Moon and Kallum Watkins to leave the scores at 12-10. Tom Briscoe touched down just before half-time after great work from Carl Ablett, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Watkins as the away side took a slender four point lead into the interval. Cas left it late to claim the spoils when Luke Gale fed Webster with five minutes remaining.
Heading into this fixture Brian McDermott has had a contingent of players ruled out through injury, Danny McGuire, Ryan Hall, Carl Ablett and Brett Delaney – the latter pulling up in the warm-up before the Cas game. Mitch Garbutt, Brad Singleton, Jordan Lilley and Mitch Achurch all come into the 19-man squad.
Wakefield have made three changes all enforced through injuries to Anthony Tupou, Ashley Gibson and Stuart Howarth which opens the door for Jason Walton, Andy Yates and Tinirau Arona to come into the squad.
Leeds Rhinos: Zak Hardaker, Tom Briscoe, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Rob Burrow, Keith Galloway, Beau Falloon, Adam Cuthbertson, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Liam Sutcliffe, Brad Singleton, Mitch Garbutt, Jimmy Keinhorst, Mitch Achurch, Anthony Mullally, Josh Walters, Ash Handley, Jordan Lilley, Brett Ferres
Wakefield Wildcats: Chris Annakin, Tinirau Arona, Joe Arundel, Matty Ashurst, Liam Finn, Craig Hall, Tom Johnstone, Ben Jones-Bishop, Max Jowitt, Danny Kirmond, Reece Lyne, Jacob Miller, Jonny Molloy, Scott Moore, Nick Scruton, Mickael Simon, Mikey Sio, Jason Walton, Andy Yates
Prediction: Leeds Rhinos by 14
Huddersfield Giants vs Salford Red Devils
Huddersfield Giants entertain Salford Red Devils on Monday and head coach Paul Anderson insists his side must stick together in order to climb the table.
The club have found themselves at the wrong end of the ladder and were defeated 36-22 against Wakefield Wildcats, replacing them at the bottom to add further insult to injury.
It was in fact the Giants who opened the scoring through Jermaine McGillvary before Wakefield hit back with three tries from Tom Johnstone, Michael Sio and Reece Lyne. Jake Connor got the first of his two tries just before the break and Danny Brough kicked a penalty but Wakefield went in 18-14 ahead at the break.
The Giants did level the game when Connor secured his brace but Brough failed to take advantage of the conversion. Further tries for the Wildcats, including a try of the second contender from Johnstone which saw him race the full length of the field jinking by no less than three Huddersfield players, saw the Wildcats claim a 36-22 win.
The under scrutiny Anderson will be hoping the experienced forward Eorl Crabtree can help ease the mounting pressure as he comes back into the squad at the expense of Kruise Leeming.
Their opponents Salford, have found themselves coming into this fixture with back-to-back defeats after losses to Hull Kingston Rovers and Catalans Dragons on Good Friday.
The Red Devils slumped to a 26-12 loss against the French side on home soil and found themselves 12-4 at half-time after tries from Tony Gigot and Eloi Pelissier with Josh Griffin in response.
Dave Taylor crossed for the first of his two tries but Greg Johnson scored a brace within six minutes to give Salford hope but Taylor rounded off the win when he raced away to score after a stray pass.
Salford coach Ian Watson has made three changes to his squad which see Mason Caton-Brown and Josh Wood named for the first time this campaign. Elsewhere Olsi Krasniqi returns to the fold with Tommy Lee and Greg Johnson missing out through injuries.
Huddersfield Giants: Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Aaron Murphy, Danny Brough, Eorl Crabtree, Ryan Hinchliffe, Craig Huby, Michael Lawrence, Larne Patrick, Kyle Wood, Sam Rapira, Ukuma Ta’ai, Jake Connor, Josh Johnson, Nathan Mason, Oliver Roberts, Jared Simpson, Jamie Foster, Ryan Brierley
Salford Red Devils: Mason Caton-Brown, Justin Carney, Michael Dobson, Niall Evalds, Mark Flanagan, Carl Foster, George Griffin, Josh Griffin, Josh Jones, Phil Joesph, Craig Kopczak, Olsi Krasniqi, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Gareth O’Brien, Junio Sa’u, Matt Sarsfield, Logan Tomkins, Adam Walne, Josh Wood
Prediction: Huddersfield Giants by 4
Catalans Dragons vs Castleford Tigers
Castleford Tigers travel to the Stade Gilbert Brutus hoping to back up their previous round victory when they take on a resurgent Catalans Dragons.
Daryl Powell called on his troops for a response following what he described as an embarrassing 56-12 defeat against Warrington and he most certainly got that when the Tigers pulled off a hard-fought 18-14 win over Leeds Rhinos on Good Friday in front of a sell-out crowd.
Andy Lynch and Jake Webster both scored tries in the first-half but the Rhinos hit back through Joel Moon and Kallum Watkins to leave the scores at 12-10. Tom Briscoe touched down just before half-time after great work from Carl Ablett, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Watkins, as the away side took a slender four point lead into the interval.
Cas left it late however to claim the spoils when Luke Gale fed Webster with five minutes remaining which put an end to their three game losing sequence.
Before even leaving the UK, Cas suffered two injury setbacks with both Ben Roberts and Lee Jewitt failing late fitness tests. That added to their injury troubles with Gadwin Springer also joining a lengthy casualty list in their win over Leeds. That has paved the way for youngsters Tom Holmes and Conor Fitzsimmons to be named in the 19-man squad.
Catalans will be hoping to extend their six-game winning run over the Tigers in Perpignan and have already made strides to improving their away form which has been their Achilles heel particularly last season. The club have already beaten the amount of away victories they managed last campaign when they beat Salford Red Devils 26-12.
The French side found themselves 12-4 at half-time after tries from Tony Gigot and Eloi Pelissier with Josh Griffin in response. Dave Taylor crossed for the first of his two tries but Greg Johnson scored a brace within six minutes to give Salford hope but Taylor rounded off the win when he raced away to score after a stray pass.
Laurent Frayssinous has made just the solitary change which sees Antoni Maria come back into the squad in place of Justin Horo who picked up a hamstring injury.
Catalans Dragons: Tony Gigot, Jodie Broughton, Vincent Duport, Pat Richards, Todd Carney, Richie Myler, Louis Anderson, Paul Aiton, Remi Casty, Glenn Stewart, Jason Baitieri, Dave Taylor, Julian Bousquet, Eloi Pelissier, Greg Mounis, Thomas Bosc, Morgan Escare, Antoni Maria, Willie Mason
Castleford Tigers: Ryan Boyle, Ben Crooks, Conor Fitzsimmons, Luke Gale, Kieran Gill, Ryan Hampshire, Jy Hitchcox, Tom Holmes, Andy Lynch, Will Maher, Nathan Massey, Mike McMeeken, Paul McShane, Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Greg Minikin, Joel Monaghan, Denny Solomona, Jake Webster
Prediction: Catalans Dragons by 10
Published on March 28 2016 for Rugby AM.