The spotlight is on… Classy Cas’: Castleford Tigers sit joint top of Super League after four straight victories has given Daryl Powell’s men the perfect start to the new season.
Powell took over from Ian Millward in May last year and brought some much needed stability to the club with a return of 11 points from a possible 24, including 5 wins and a draw. In comparison, records will show that Millward’s tenure resulted in just 3 wins from their opening 14 games.
Cas’ are a rejuvenated outfit who play with more options and defend especially well, something that has been lacking in recent years.
Despite losing the influential Rangi Chase to Salford, some shrewed business in the transfer market has enabled the ex-Featherstone Rovers coach to build a squad that looks capable of springing a real surprise this season.
Powell raided his old club to bring in Irish international half back Liam Finn, London trio Michael Channing, Scott Wheeldon and Luke Dorn as well as Salford’s young half back Marc Sneyd. Cas’ also kept hold of bruising winger Justin Carney, who grabbed 21 tries last season and has 4 to his name already this year.
The Tigers’ local contingent have been particularly impressive as well. Daryl Clark is raising eyebrows with some impressive performances at hooker where he has 3 tries already, Richard Owen grabbed a hat trick in the away win at Hull KR and Oliver Holmes, who has 3 seasons under his belt despite his age, has done excellently in the second row.
We can certainly see Castleford challenging for a lower-placed playoff spot if they can maintain some consistency and remain relatively healthy. One thing is for sure though, their form is a real breath of fresh air as far as interest in the competition going.
Try of the week: Blake Green’s scored a brilliant try against Castleford for Wigan at the weekend. Liam Finn was the victim of Green’s trademark dummy and shoulder drop as the nippy half back crashed over for his first of the campaign.
Cheeky: Josh Hodgson scored a cheeky try after Hull KR were awarded a penalty on St Helen’s line. The hooker waiting for the official to get into place, tapped the wall and strolled through a massive gap to the confusion of the on-looking Mose Masoe.
Leaderboard: The top 4 are as you were with St Helens and Castleford setting the pace. Leeds earned a draw at Huddersfield and Widnes, who have a game in hand, beat Salford. Champions Wigan slumped to defeat away at Castleford and dropped to 10th and Bradford remain bottom on -2 after losing heavily at Hull.
1 (-) St Helens
2 (-) Castleford
3 (-) Leeds
4 (-) Widnes
5 (8) Hull FC
6 (-) Huddersfield
7 (9) Warrington
8 (5) Salford
9 (11) Wakefield
10 (7) Wigan
11 (10) Hull KR
12 (-) Catalan
13 (-) London
14 (-) Bradford
Une catastrophe pour le Catalan: What is happening in the south of France? The Dragons are without a win in their first 4 league games this season, and you have to go back to August for their last Super League. The Catalan’s discipline is terrible and, alongside Hull FC, have conceded the most penalties to date. Laurent Frayssinous has it all to do to turn around what has been a terrible start for them.
To add to the problems, big Jamal Fakir has called a halt to his career after meeting with Catalan officials this week. He was dropped to reserve grade recently after a string of poor performances and has decided against turning out in the French Elite competition. We wish him well and hope that Super League has not seen the last of him.
Long way round: Sean Long has joined Brian Noble at Salford after leaving London recently. The former St Helens and Great Britain international is never far away from a headline and his short coaching career has taken him to numerous top flight clubs. Here’s hoping he can settle into his new role and stick it out, and keep out of trouble at the same time. Good luck, Longy.
Calling all London folk: London Broncos moved to The Hive in Edgeware, Greater London and have attracted just over 1,000 spectators to their games against Salford and Warrington respectively. Come on people of London, your clubs needs you. Get down to The Hive for London’s next home match against Wakefield on Saturday.
Suspension: Steve Rapira has a week off after receiving a ban for a Grade B dangerous contact offence. Catalan’s Louis Anderson is off duty as well for a similar offence.
Injury update: Tom Lineham is set for a spell on the sidelines after breaking his leg in Hull’s home win over Bradford on Friday night. Greg Burke has dislocated his shoulder so will return to Wigan for rehab after agreeing a loan deal with Bradford.
Player movements: The loan market is in full swing with a host of month-long deals been completed over the past few days. Hull KR have brought in St Helens’ winger Ade Gardner as injury cover. Dominic Manfredi has joined Salford from Wigan to ease their injury problems, and Warrington’s Danny Bridge has extended his loan deal at Bradford. Chris Riley has teamed up with Wakefield from Warrington. Wakefield’s Lucas Walshaw has joined Dewsbury for four weeks as well.
Final thought: Sometimes the RFL just can’t win. The game has never been far away from on-field controversiality so the governing body has taken the decision to implement a new procedure when the video referees are called into play.
On TV the viewer can see how tries are assessed and what technology is used to come to the decision. Live in the stadium, the big screen announces the decision and is explained over the tannoy so that there can be no doubt as to why a try is or isn’t given.
I think it is great that the RFL have listened to the fans, realised that clarification on decisions is vital, and put it into practice. It is simple and effective. Lovely stuff.