RL Weekly: Local Clashes, Purple Patches & Fiery Matches

The Betfred Super League has been packed with storylines
13:01, 13 Jul 2023

A barely believable run of three wins in four games has given hapless Wakefield Trinity a real chance of what would be a stunning escape from relegation.

After I described the current Trinity side as the worst Super League has ever seen in this column a few weeks ago, Wakefield have gone on a perhaps inevitable upsurge to send shivers of anxiety through their neighbours Castleford Tigers. With just two points between them, next month’s derby is shaping up to be one of the biggest in years.

Much could yet change before then, not least as Wakefield could suck Huddersfield Giants into the mire too this week. Wakefield do remain relegation favourites, but they have a chance. So what has prompted the turnaround?

The easy answer is recruitment, with the return of David Fifita instrumental in the recent purple patch and the form of fellow recruit Will Dagger another major plus.


Look at the Tigers and they have done next to nothing. “There are nine games to go and we are right in it,” head coach Andy Last admits. “We are the ones who have got ourselves into this position, we are the ones who have go to get ourselves out of it.”

Castleford fans are worried. “Worst coach in the league, worst recruitment in the league, we’ve become a shambles of a club,” wrote one fan on social media this week. Last has a huge task on as he heads back to Hull FC in a daunting fixture.

Elsewhere the Leeds fans have been chanting “it’s happening again” already, as the Rhinos arrest an indifferent start to the campaign with their trademark late-season surge.

A desperate loss at a then winless Wakefield has proved the catalyst for three wins on the spin, the most recent of which - their fiery win at Salford Red Devils - provided such fierce debate this week.

A fourth win on the spin against Hull Kingston Rovers would mean a top six place before their clash with champions St Helens, and chief executive Gary Hetherington is ready to back coach Rohan Smith to kick on, confirming that there will be money available.

“Building a squad capable of challenging for silverware doesn’t happen overnight,” said Hetherington. “Next season it will be very much the squad Rohan has created.”

Time moves swiftly in sport. Only a month ago many Leeds fans were calling Smith’s time up. All of a sudden there is a feel-good factor again. The Rhinos however, don’t usually peak this soon however.


As for Salford, their fans will have shown more than a passing interest in this week’s refereeing appointments after the hysteria of last weekend’s home defeat to Leeds that left ref Aaron Moore needing security to get back to the dressing room. Moore is refereeing the Huddersfield v Wakefield game this week, but incredibly on Sunday he has been asked to return to the Salford Stadium to be touch judge for their derby against Leigh Leopards.

Pick of the ties this week is undoubtedly the champions against the pacesetters. It has taken the old St Helens engine a little longer to fire up this year but there are increasingly signs that it is running smoothly again and a clash with Catalans Dragons is the perfect chance to see where the balance of power really lies right now.

Sam Tomkins was absolutely on the money when he spoke exclusively to The Sportsman last week. Despite his side sitting four points clear at the top of the pile, Tomkins warned that they would not stay there, and would not have a chance of being Grand Final winners if they did not drastically improve their performances.

He then watched from the sidelines as the Dragons turned in one of their poorer displays of the season at the weekend in a shock home defeat to struggling Huddersfield. Tomkins is being used sparingly in his final season to coax his dodgy knees through the final third of the season, and the Wiganer needed the rest to ensure he was fit to play the arch enemy this week. But this was another reminder of how badly the French side need him.

On another note, how good is it to see Tomkins and head coach Steve McNamara now giving their weekly media briefings in French?

Daryl Powell, meanwhile, may as well be talking a foreign language at the moment, with his Warrington Wolves players unable to buy a win. The head coach was being toasted by fans in the pubs around the Halliwell Jones Stadium after guiding them to the top of the early-season table. They have now lost six of their last seven ahead of this week’s short trip to Wigan Warriors, and are at real risk of dropping out of the top six.


*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject to Change

Suggested Searches:
The Sportsman
Manchester United
Manchester City
Premier League
Sportsman HQ
72-76 Cross St
Manchester M2 4JG
We will not ask you to provide any personal information when using The Sportsman website. You may see advertisement banners on the site, and if you choose to visit those websites, you will accept the terms and conditions and privacy policy applicable to those websites. The link below directs you to our Group Privacy Policy, and our Data Protection Officer can be contacted by email at: [email protected]

All original material is Copyright © 2019 by The Sportsman Communications Ltd.
Other material is copyright their respective owners.