A review of the opening-round matches in the Betfred Super League.
Super League results
Thursday, February 1
- Hull FC 38-12 Huddersfield
- Warrington 12-16 Leeds
Friday, February 2
- Salford 12-40 Wigan
- St Helens 46-6 Castleford
- Hull KR 6-28 Wakefield
Sunday, February 3
- Widnes 40-12 Catalans
Widnes made the perfect start to their Betfred Super League campaign with a comfortable 40-12 victory over Catalans Dragons at the Halton Stadium.
The French side, who had to win the Million-Pound Game last year to keep their place in Super League, led 12-6 after 24 minutes thanks to tries on debut from David Mead and Benjamin Jullien but they collapsed in alarming fashion after the break, when they conceded five tries.
Second-rower Chris Dean was the Vikings' hero with two of their seven tries while architects of the home side's impressive performance were home-grown half-backs Tom Gilmore and Joe Mellor.
Dragons coach Steve McNamara, who also gave debuts to Michael McIlorum and Samisoni Langi, will point to the disruption caused by the 2017 World Cup which featured 15 members of his squad for some mitigation for a truly awful second-half performance but he clearly has a big job to do in turning the French team into a top-four team again.
St Helens got their Betfred Super League campaign off to a blistering start with a 46-6 destruction of a Castleford team that looked a shadow of the one that dominated the 2017 season.
England centre Mark Percival scored a hat-trick of tries and Ben Barba justified his early-season favouritism for the Man of Steel award with a man-of-the-match performance.
The Australian full-back scored two tries and helped create four others as Saints gained some revenge for last October's heart-breaking semi-final defeat.
Saints were also indebted to half-backs Jonny Lomax and youngster Danny Richardson, whose display vindicated coach Justin Holbrook's decision to leave out former England international Matty Smith, as they ran the Tigers ragged to leave them still looking for a first away win over their opponents since 1992.
Winger Liam Marshall and centre Oliver Gildart both scored twice as Wigan made a winning start to their campaign with a dominant 40-12 victory against Salford at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Despite falling behind in the third minute, Shaun Wane's Warriors went onto control the game thanks to the influence of half-backs George Williams and Sam Powell.
Wigan were especially impressive in the second half when the backline dominated the Salford defence and added 30 points.
Tom Johnstone marked his long-awaited comeback with a hat-trick as Wakefield spoiled Hull KR's party in their first game back in Super League.
The young winger missed most of the 2017 season with a serious knee injury but he quickly rediscovered the form that had put him in contention for an England place.
Wakefield came agonisingly close to securing a play-off place in Johnstone's absence and they made a solid start to the new campaign with a comfortable 28-6 victory at KCOM Craven Park.
Rovers earned an immediate return to Super League through the Qualifiers but they never recovered from Matty Marsh's early yellow card, with debutant Danny McGuire unable to inspire his new side.
Richie Myler returned to haunt his old club as Leeds made an impressive start to the defence of their Betfred Super League title with a rousing 16-12 win at Warrington.
England winger Ryan Hall, one of 12 members of their Grand Final-winning team, provided the highlight with a brace of tries as the Rhinos condemned Steve Price to defeat in his first competitive match as head coach.
Teenage full-back Jack Walker also impressed, along with Myler, who was chosen to fill the boots of departed skipper Danny McGuire and warmed the hearts of the visiting fans at a chilly Halliwell Jones Stadium with a superb all-round display.
The champions were forced to withstand a late fightback from the home side, who scored a try through Tom Lineham with just two minutes left, although captain Chris Hill missed the late thrills as he left the ground early after his wife went into labour with their fourth child.
Fetuli Talanoa scored an 18-minute hat-trick to ensure Hull FC travelled Down Under with an opening round 38-12 win over Huddersfield at the KCOM Stadium.
The Black and Whites fly to Australia on Friday in preparation for the first Super League match to take place outside of Europe when they face Wigan in Wollongong in the second round of fixtures.
Hull take on St George Illawarra in the World Club Series in Sydney the following week and will be buoyed by an scintillating second-half performance where they scored 28 unanswered points to dismantle the visitors.
The boot of Marc Sneyd put the hosts 4-0 up but quickfire tries from Ryan Hinchcliffe and Ukuma Ta'ai put the Giants in control before Albert Kelly crossed to reduce the deficit to 12-10 just before half-time.
Talanoa grabbed two quick scores to regain the lead for Hull before Jake Connor haunted his former team with a try. The Tongan winger got his third with Jamie Shaul rounding off the scoring as Sneyd finished with seven goals to earn Lee Radford's side a convincing win.