Adam Everitt – The Spotlight Is On Manchester Magic

This weekend see’s the return of the Magic weekend in Manchester, where a full round of fixtures will be place in the same stadium over 2 days.

There are some appetising fixtures to look forward to and the RFL have reported impressive ticket sales with just a few days to go.

Basement club London Broncos are still looking for that first win as they prepare to face off against Catalan. The Dragons are terrible travelers and in a neutral venue I think the club from the capital will spring a surprise. I hope so anyway, I’ve got money no them!

Salford have an opportunity to avenge their Challenge Cup defeat as they are set to take on Widnes. Both clubs failed to win at the weekend and in the race for a playoff spot, the Red Devils will want to start picking up points.

The Hull derby is never far from a headline. 2 years ago Rhys Lovegrove scored from a clear Michael Dobson pass and last season Hull’s Chris Green touched down despite being offside. I expect a Hull KR victory here. Hull welcome back Jordan Rankin but I think a win for the red side of Hull is on the cards.

Wigan versus Leeds will be a blockbuster. Brian McDermott’s men eased to victory over the Cherry and Whites a few weeks ago but Wigan’s young side trounced Hull at the KC Stadium on Friday. Leeds are in fine form and should see this one out.

Wakefield play Castleford a couple of days after they snared Richard Owen. These two old rivals have a rich history together. My money, quite literally, is on Wakefield to continue their recent improvements and sneak a tight win.

Huddersfield will hammer Bradford.

Warrington are difficult to predict at present. Their form is indifferent and they’ve dropped points against sides that they’d have beat last season. St Helen’s hit a rough patch over Easter but appear to be back in the groove. I think Saints will win this by 3 scores.

BJB signs for SRD
Utility back Ben Jones-Bishop has joined Salford on a 3-year deal from next season after rejecting an offer from his current club, Leeds.

The signing of BJB is another statement of intent from the super-rich Red Devils who last week signed New Zealand international full back Kevin Locke.

Jones-Bishop, often thought to be under-used by Leeds, has scored 53 tries in 76 games and grabbed a brace in Thursday’s win at Castleford.

Castleford forward Weller Hauraki is expected to sign for Salford shortly as well.

Ahead of the Magic weekend in Manchester, Hull coach Lee Radford has described Hull KR as ‘in form’ and ‘red hot favourites’. Hull KR has not won in 3 games.

Try of the week
Paul Sykes fantastic effort to weave his way through the Widnes defence and score next to the sticks and steal a last-minute victory for Wakefield was brilliant and the celebrations that proceeded it was even better. It was a memorable moment.

Class in a glass
I must also give a mention to Lance Hohaia who broke through Bradford’s defence with relative ease, stopped running and took a hit but still got the ball away for St Helens’ second try of that game. Great stuff.

In brief
A new segment to the piece, In brief will bring you short, sharp bursts of Rugby League news all in one place.

Firstly, the World Club Challenge will return to these shores in 2015.

Super League (Europe) has appointed Richard Bowker CBE to the boardas a non-Exective Director. Richard has a strong history in branding and marketing in professional sport, and will prove to be a fantastic appointment. Good luck, Richard!

Former Hull KR coach Justin Morgan is in line for the vacant Featherstone Rovers job.

Warrington winger Joel Monaghan grabbed his 100th and 101st Super League tries against Catalan last Friday.

Brett Ferres will return to action for Huddersfield against Bradford this weekend after serving a 5 match ban for a spear tackle on St Helens’ Jonny Lomax.

Hull FC have rewarded local junior full back Jamie Shaul with a 5-year deal after an impressive start to life in the professional ranks.

Wigan’s young half back George Williams has penned a deal that will keep him at the DW Stadium for the next 4 years.

Leaderboard (W-D-L)
Wigan move one place to third after a mightily impressive victory away at Hull FC. London show signs of improve but remain rooted to the bottom after falling at home to Huddersfield, who move up two places to fifth. Warrington demolished Catalan and sit in seventh. Wakefield’s last-gasp win at Widnes see’s them go 8 points above the drop zone.

1 (1) Leeds 10-1-1
2 (3) St Helens 10-0-2
3 (4) Wigan 8-0-3
4 (3) Castleford 8-0-4
5 (7) Huddersfield 6-2-4
6 (5) Widnes 7-0-4
7 (8) Warrington 6-0-6
8 (7) Hull FC 5-0-7
9 (10) Hull KR 4-2-6
10 (9) Catalan 5-0-7
11 (-) Salford 4-1-7
12 (-) Wakefield 4-0-8
13 (-) Bradford 3-0-9*
14 (-) London 0-0-12

*Bradford deducted 6 points for entering administration.

Injury update
Salford’s French scrum half Theo Fages is to be sidelined for a month with a shoulder injury.

Player movements
Hull FC hooker Aaron Heremaia has signed a two year deal with Widnes starting from next season.

Wakefield have signed Castleford full back of winger Richard Owen.

Bradford Bulls have signed Leeds’ former teenage forwards Jordan Baldwinson and Mason Tonks for the remainder of the season after returning to Yorkshire from a stint at NZ Warriors in the NRL.

Tweet of the week
”Was disappointing to see we made an error here. Meli is in touch. Please accept our apology for this mistake PB #asktheref” Referee Phil Bentham apologies on Twitter for awarding a try that wasn’t to Salford’s Francis Meli in his side’s home draw with Hull KR.

Ipso facto 1
Paul Wellens and Kevin Sinfield have played in a combined 834 Super League games, 417 each.

Ipso facto 2
Warrington winger Gene Ormsby does not look like Sean Connery.

Final thought
Salford winger Francis Meli was the beneficiary of a try that wasn’t after referee Phil Bentham award him the 4 points despite having a foot in touch against Hull KR on Saturday evening.

I have a bit of sympathy for the official on this occasion. It wasn’t as clear cut as many would suggest but it certainly adds weight to argument that all games should have a video referee present. I agree entirely with this view; however, the costing is something the game perhaps can’t subsidise right now.

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