Whisper it quietly, but St Helens were decidingly average for most of their Friday night game against Hull FC. In the first half they dropped the ball repeatedly, passes went to ground and basic errors were made. Ben Barba was arguably the chief culprit – with a poor attempted tackle for Bureta Faramio’s first try, hauled into touch on another play and coughing up the ball on his own line, which should have lead to a Black & Whites try.
Barba still managed to score two tries and set another, and Saints still managed a comfortable win in the end. Such is their class, and varied attacking options, that they have the option to overpower their opposition late in a match and win even when they’re not playing well. That is the sign of a very good team, one which their record backs up. Credit must go to a busted Black & Whites, who battled all the way but just ran out of gas in the second half. Surely Lee Radford can’t wait to get all his key players back fit.
Simon Woolford has masterminded another win, this time against Wigan at home. There has been a swift upturn in fortune for Huddersfield since his appointment, especially since he landed on British shores. At this rate the Giants could do some damage in the Super 8s.
Widnes might have lost again, but at least they are unearthing some new talent. Winger Owen Buckley grabbed two tries in the slender-two point loss to Hull KR. Buckley, only 19, made his Super League debut just last month and Saturday was only his third Super League game. Widnes’ academy continues to do good work.
Leeds should have ended their losing run on Friday when they led Wakefield late at Headingley. But they let Trinity back into the contest and it should have been the visitors who walked away with the two points. Only a post stopped Jacob Miller’s drop goal going over to secure a vital win for Wakey. Kevin Sinfield did get a response from his men, which is something, but the Rhinos still have plenty to do in the next fortnight.
Play-acting and feigning injury is not a new issue in rugby league, but certainly one that seems to be growing week by week. On Saturday it was Hull KR forward Danny Tickle who earned the ire of many for his antics in the Robins’ victory over Widnes. The time has come for officials to come down hard on these behaviours. Referees need to start penalizing, and sin-binning where appropriate, these offenders because ‘diving’ goes against the core values of this great sport.
Back-to-back draws on Thursday and Friday for the first time since Eddie Hemmings was in short pants meant shared points for Warrington, Catalans, Leeds and Wakefield. To some, draws are like kissing your sister, to others it’s a fair way of each team finishing with something after a tight encounter. But perhaps it is time Super League strongly considered introducing Golden Point into the competition. Golden Point had its detractors when it was first brought in down under, but now it is a valued and widely accepted part of the system. Surely a bit of extra excitement and drama can’t be a bad thing?