Super League review: Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers win on Sunday

Rugby League
Kallum Watkins of Leeds
Kallum Watkins of Leeds

A review of the latest action in the Betfred Super League.

Friday, April 6

  • St Helens 26-12 Hull

Saturday, April 7

  • Salford 6-22 Warrington
  • Catalans Dragons 23-32 Wigan
  • Hull KR 31-12 Widnes

Sunday, April 8

  • Huddersfield 28-40 Castleford
  • Wakefield 26-28 Leeds

Sunday

Kallum Watkins scored two tries as Super League champions Leeds inflicted a fifth straight defeat on Wakefield by edging a thriller 28-26.

The Rhinos captain had come in for some criticism after his side had failed to win recent close games on goal kicks but his late touchline conversion proved the difference in an enthralling contest at Belle Vue.

Watkins had earlier opened the scoring on his 200th Super League appearance but Wakefield deservedly led at the break thanks to tries from Jacob Miller and Kyle Wood.

Matty Ashurst put Trinity back in control after Ash Handley's eighth try in five games, only for Watkins and Brad Singleton to touch down to give the Rhinos a 22-20 lead in the closing stages.

Watkins added the extras to Josh Walters' try to seemingly secure the points for Leeds but they had to withstand a frantic final minute following Max Jowitt's try.

Wakefield started the game like a side desperate for the points - Tom Johnstone, Ryan Hampshire and Miller all breaking the Leeds line - but the Rhinos scrambled well in defence and took the lead in the 15th minute through Watkins.

Richie Myler earned Leeds a repeat set with a dab into the in-goal area and in the next set Watkins was on hand to touch down another neat grubber kick.

Wakefield responded impressively and were level when Miller stepped his way over after spotting a gap in the Rhinos defence.

Wood was introduced by Trinity coach Chris Chester with Leeds tiring and the livewire hooker made an immediate impact by going himself from dummy-half on the last tackle to catch the Rhinos out.

Hampshire - standing in for injured scrum-half Liam Finn - added his second conversion of the afternoon from out wide to make it 12-6 and it would have got better for Wakefield had Johnstone not lost his footing with open field in front of him.

Leeds ended an entertaining first half on top but were unable to post points as Ryan Hall was denied a try after referee Chris Kendall spotted a ball steal and good scrambling defence kept out Watkins from a Myler kick that had come back off the crossbar.

There was nothing Wakefield could do to deny Handley six minutes after the restart, the winger-turned-centre showing good speed and then strength to finish in the corner.

Watkins nailed his touchline conversion to make it 12-12 but Hampshire nudged Trinity back ahead from a penalty after Stevie Ward was penalised for holding down Bill Tupou.

And Wakefield had a commanding eight-point advantage when Hampshire's high kick took a wicked bounce and Ashurst collected the loose ball to touch down close to the posts.

But the Rhinos quickly wiped out the home side's lead thanks to quickfire tries from Watkins and Singleton.

Watkins finished in the right corner following a brilliant break down the left by Handley and Singleton plucked Myler's kick out of the sky to score under the sticks.

Wakefield threw everything at Leeds but Walters struck the crucial blow with five minutes remaining after collecting Watkins' short-side kick.

Trinity refused to give up and crossed in the final minute through Jowitt but the Rhinos survived to strengthen their position in the top four.

Castleford held off a tremendous second-half fightback from injury-hit Huddersfield to extend their winning run against them to six matches with a 40-28 triumph at the John Smith's Stadium.

Former Huddersfield winger Greg Eden, Super League's top try-scorer in 2017, opened his account for the season on his return from injury as the Tigers moved to within two points of third-placed Warrington with three games in hand.

The result leaves Chris Thorman still looking for his first win as Huddersfield interim boss but he will be the happier of the two coaches after a spirited display from his youthful, patched-up side.

The Tigers were in complete control at half-time, when they led 28-6, but the home side roared back in the second half with 17-year-old winger Innes Senior scoring two tries on his home debut.

Senior got his chance, along with twin brother Louis on the other wing, as Thorman grappled with an injury crisis that left him without seven first-choice players.

It began badly for the Giants when full-back Jared Simpson had the ball stolen by Castleford loose forward Alex Foster and that set up the position for hooker Paul McShane to open the scoring, touching down Ben Roberts' grubber kick.

Huddersfield forward Daniel Smith was held up over the line during a rare foray into the visitors' half before Roberts combined with full-back Jake Trueman to get winger Greg Minikin over for the Tigers' second try.

The impressive Foster grabbed a third after winning the race to McShane's grubber kick and centre Jake Webster charged over for another after Huddersfield were reduced to 12 men with Jordan Turner in the sin bin following a team warning.

The home side briefly stemmed the onslaught when prop Ukuma Ta'ai took Lee Gaskell's pass close to the line and juggled with the ball before touching down for a try converted by Jordan Rankin.

Eden added Castleford's fifth try on the stroke of half-time as they led 28-6 and there appeared no way back for the Giants.

However, they launched their comeback early in the second half when a break from Rankin created the position for Smith to force his way over the line.

The home side cut the gap further when Innes Senior finished off a smart move in the corner for his first try on 55 minutes before Ellis put three scores between the sides with a penalty.

Castleford were reduced to 12 men on 65 minutes when loose forward Adam Milner was sin-binned for use of the forearm and Huddersfield immediately took advantage by working Senior over for his second try.

Rankin's third goal, off the touchline, narrowed the deficit to just eight points but after Foster and Shannon Wakeman traded scores, Castleford captain Michael Shenton made sure of the win when he sliced through the Giants' defence for his side's seventh try in the last minute.

Saturday

Wigan came from 23-4 down to defeat the Catalans Dragons 32-23 in Perpignan.

The home side were sitting pretty in the 51st minute when Tony Gigot kicked a penalty to give the hosts a 19-point lead.

However, the Warriors fought back to score 24 unanswered points in 14 minutes to win this Betfred Super League contest.

The opening stages saw the hosts start brightly before Joe Burgess had a try ruled out for an earlier obstruction by John Bateman on Benajmin Jullien.

Jullien who opened the scoring in the 13th minute, Samisoni Langi and Gigot combined to send Jullien away down the right and the French international touched down to the right of the posts. Gigot added the conversion.

Gigot increased the Catalans' lead to 8-0 in the 25th minute when he kicked a penalty from 18 metres.

With three minutes of the first half remaining, the home side extended their lead further. Sam Tomkins' grubber was collected on the fly by David Mead, who raced 98 metres to score under the posts to make Gigot's conversion a formality.

Gigot added a drop goal on the half time hooter to give the Catalans a 15-0 lead at the break.

Catalans continued their momentum in the second half. In the opening minutes they forcing a goal-line drop out then Langi took on the Wigan line before giving a smart one-handed offload to the supporting Benjamin Garcia who touched down. Gigot again converted.

Wigan trailed 21-0 but they were given a lifeline in the 47th minute, a flowing move from left to right involving Sean O'Loughlin, Sam Powell and Sam Tomkins - who threw a quick hands pass - saw Dan Sarginson touch down in the right corner for his first try of the season. Tomkins missed the conversion from the touchline.

Gigot added another penalty in the 51st minute to extend the Catalans' lead to 19 points, before Wigan touched down again from the restart, smart play from O'Loughlin got Oliver Gildart free down the left wing before smart interplay between him, O'Loughlin and Liam Farrell saw Gildart touch down in the left corner. Tomkkins converted to reduce the deficit to 13 points.

Wigan had the momentum heading into the final quarter and a short side play resulted in Joe Burgess touching down in the left corner from Farrell's pass. Tomkins missed the conversion.

There was another Wigan try on the hour, a short pass from O'Loughlin drew in the Catalans defenders and Farrell scored down the left, before Tomkins converted to leave the visitors just three points adrift.

Tomkins' try in the 65th minute saw the Warriors take the lead. The ball was moved from right to left in a flowing move - and the scorer then converted to give the Warriors a three point lead.

With eight minutes remaining Dragons' Mickael Simon was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle on John Bateman.

With two minutes remaining Tony Clubb added a short range effort to seal the two points for the visitors, the substitute touching down to the left of the posts.

Tomkins added his fourth goal of the game to complete the scoring and round off a 32-23 victory for the visitors.

Warrington picked up their fifth Super League win in a row with a hard-fought 22-6 success over Salford.

Wolves winger Josh Charnley scored a try and provided an assist on his return to the AJ Bell Stadium where he played rugby union for Sale before switching codes last month.

The first game after the demanding Easter weekend traditionally tend to be something of a slog and this was no exception.

Warrington scored three first-half tries through Charnley, Toby King and Tyrone Roberts which were to prove crucial as the second half remained score-less until the final stages despite the video referee Robert Hicks being called into action twice to deny Salford tries.

Robert Lui was switched to full-back to fill in for the injured Niall Evalds and on-loan Wigan half-back Jake Shorrocks made his Salford debut.

Steve Price's men led as early as the fifth minute when hooker Daryl Clark was allowed to run across the field unchallenged before passing to King who swapped passed with Charnley before touching down in the corner. Stefan Ratchford was unable to convert.

The visitors scored a second try just seven minutes later when some quick passing along the line gave Charnley a walk-in at the corner from Ratchford's final pass but again Ratchford failed to add the extras.

Warrington went 12-0 up in the 23rd minute when Salford allowed Tyrone Roberts' bomb to bounce and the ball was flipped back inside by King to the supporting Roberts for a simple try. This time, Ratchford added the goal and the Wolves looked to be firmly in control at 14-0.

Salford got off the mark in the 27th minute when Lui took an inside pass from Weller Hauraki to score from 10 metres out. Lui also added the conversion to make it 6-14 at the break.

The second half proved to be something of an arm wrestle with scoring chances at a premium. Salford saw tries ruled out by the video ref in the 46th and 60th minutes.

But Warrington finally put the game beyond Salford's reach seven minutes from time when Kevin Brown cut through to score from close range. Ratchford added the conversion as well as a late penalty to complete the scoring.

Hull KR ended their three-game losing streak by beating Widnes 31-12 at KCOM Craven Park.

Both sides were trying to put disappointing winless Easters behind them and it was Widnes who scored first.

Chris Houston slipped through a tackle to make good yards before passing to Joe Mellor who was tackled high 25 metres from Rovers' line. Ed Chamberlain converted the penalty to give the Vikings a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of scrappy play.

The first try came in the 29th minute. Danny McGuire's high kick was gathered by Justin Carney who managed to ground the ball despite the attentions of three Widnes defenders. Ryan Shaw missed the conversion.

But Shaw made amends four minutes later, turning Andrew Heffernan's try into six points after the centre exploited a gap on the left hand side of the Vikings' defence.

Widnes' hopes were not helped with injuries to three players in the first half. Keanan Brand was carried off in the ninth minute, Danny Craven in the 28th and Wellington Albert in the 34th with head knocks.

Despite the disruptions to their personnel, Widnes finished the first half strongly forcing repeats sets, but they found Rovers in no mood to have their line breached.

Leading 10-2, Rovers found themselves down to 12 following Chris Clarkson's yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Rhys Hanbury.

From the resulting penalty, Widnes moved the ball down field and switched play to the right for Ryan Ince to score in the right hand corner. Chamberlain's missed conversion left the Vikings trailing 10-6.

On their next set, the Vikings regained the lead. Mellor made the most of Clarkson's absence in Rovers' defensive line to score and Chamberlain's conversion edged Widnes ahead at 12-10.

Widnes suffered more injury woes when Gil Dudson had to be helped off the pitch, leaving the visitors with no fit interchanges for the remaining 29 minutes.

The two-point lead they were holding onto disappeared when Shaw kicked his second goal of the game to make it 12-12.

As Widnes battled fatigue, Rovers showed no mercy, turning a penalty into six points. Danny Tickle scored against his former club which was converted by Shaw to give Rovers an 18-12 lead.

McGuire, back after missing Hull KR's Easter defeats to Hull and Wigan, dropped a goal 11 minutes from time to give the home side a seven-point cushion.

James Greenwood made sure of victory by taking McGuire's pass over from close range. Shaw's conversion made it 25-12.

In the final minute, Carney rounded off the scoring after Maurice Blair's 40-metre break. Shaw's conversion sealed Rovers' 31-12 win.

Friday

St Helens overcame the absence of talismanic full-back Ben Barba to make it nine wins out of 10 and pull six points clear at the top of the Betfred Super League.

The mercurial Australian, who scored 10 tries in his first nine games of the season, pulled out of Friday's game with a virus but Saints still had too much craft for Hull FC as they carved out a 26-12 victory.

St Helens had a handy replacement in England international Jonny Lomax while Theo Fages slotted in comfortably at stand-off and it provided more game time for veteran half-back Matty Smith, albeit as a makeshift hooker.

The only disappointment for Saints as they completed a clean sweep of their three Easter fixtures was the loss of influential skipper James Roby to injury after 50 minutes.

There was also disappointment for Hull skipper and hooker Danny Houghton on his 300th appearance as his side's three-match winning run was brought to a halt.

Saints made the brighter start and scored the only try of the first half after just seven minutes, second rower Zeb Taia showing great athleticism to pluck the ball out of the air from Fages' lofted kick.

Danny Richardson added the goal to make it 6-0 but Hull gradually came more into the game and ought to have been at least level by half-time.

Centre Josh Griffin had a try disallowed for offside and second rower Jordan Lane dropped the ball over the line.

The misses began to look costly when Saints increased their lead within two minutes of the restart.

Hull winger Jack Logan, deputising for the suspended Bureta Faraimo, put his side under pressure by dropping the ball from Fages' kick and in the next set Fages and Lomax combined to get centre Mark Percival striding through a gap for his 10th try of the season.

Richardson kicked his second conversion and added a penalty after 49 minutes to stretch his side's lead to 14-0 and the game should have been over shortly afterwards when left winger Regan Grace spilled Fages' pass with the line at his mercy.

The penalty began to assume greater significance when Hull pulled a try back after 56 minutes in controversial fashion.

Hull centre Jake Connor was quick to react after pouncing on a handling error by Percival, freeing Logan down the right wing and stand-off Albert Kelly was in support on his inside to finish off despite a clear hint of a forward pass.

Marc Sneyd, on his 100th appearance, added the conversion to trim Saints' lead to eight points but it was only delayed the inevitable.

Impressive St Helens prop Luke Thompson had a try ruled out for a knock-on but there was no denying Taia as he charged onto Fages' pass to cross over for his second score after 67 minutes.

Thompson then received his due reward when he took Smith's pass to barge his way to the line for his side's fourth try to pile on the agony for Hull, who at least had the final say when Jordan Abdul squeezed a pass out of the tackle to get his fellow substitute Chris Green over for a consolation try.

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