Super League review: Wins for Wakefield Castleford and Salford on Sunday

Rugby League
Paul McShane in action for Castleford
Paul McShane in action for Castleford

A review of the latest round of matches in the Betfred Super League.

Super League results

Thursday April 12

  • Widnes 20-39 Hull FC

Friday April 13

  • Leeds 8-9 Wigan

Saturday April 14

  • Warrington 40-26 Hull KR

Sunday April 15

  • Huddersfield 12-30 Salford
  • Wakefield 24-20 St Helens
  • Castleford 41-0 Catalans Dragons

Sunday

Super League leaders St Helens suffered only a second defeat of the season as Wakefield halted their own five-match losing run in a nail-biting contest at the Mobile Rocket Stadium.

England centre Mark Percival scored two tries, taking his tally for the season to 12, as Saints fought back from 22-6 down to close to within two points but they could not maintain their composure in a dramatic finish as Wakefield clung on for a 24-20 victory, their first at home to St Helens for six years.

Both sides finished the game with 12 men after Percival and Wakefield hooker Tyler Randell were sin-binned but, after losing their last three matches by a combined total of eight points, Trinity coach Chris Chester will be thrilled by the way they held their nerve this time.

Saints, who had former England scrum-half Matty Smith starting at hooker in the absence of James Roby with a rib cartilage injury, made the perfect start as former captain Jon Wilkin broke clear to get Danny Richardson haring for the line inside the first minute.

Although Richardson was tackled just short of the line, Wakefield could not regroup in time to prevent full-back Ben Barba sending Percival over for his first try.

Richardson's goal made it 6-0 but Trinity, bolstered by the return of senior players Liam Finn, Scott Grix and Anthony England, quickly hit their straps to run in four tries in an 18-minute spell.

Right winger Ben Jones-Bishop took Finn's pass to score the first and came up with an opportunist break to create the position for his centre Reece Lyne to go over.

Loose forward Justin Horo dummied his way over for a solo try and Wakefield were on a roll when dangerous left winger Bill Tupou scooped up a loose pass to force his way over in the 22nd minute to extend his side's lead to 22-6.

Saints' right winger Tommy Makinson produced an acrobatic finish to stop the rot but Wakefield stepped up their defensive efforts, holding loose forward Morgan Knowles up over the line and bringing down Zeb Taia just short of it.

However, the visitors added a third try on the stroke of half-time with Barba getting Percival over for his second try, although Richardson was off target for the second time with the boot.

Trailing 22-14 at the break, St Helens made further inroads early in the second half when prop Luke Douglas charged over for their fourth try after Richardson had set up the position with a 40-20 kick.

Wakefield might have been down to 12 men after 53 minutes when stand-off Jacob Miller tackled centre Ryan Morgan before he could take a potential tryscoring pass from Richardson but referee Gareth Hewer restricted his punishment to a penalty and they held onto their two-point lead.

The Yorkshire side then missed a glorious chance to extend their lead when Horo broke clear but failed to pass to the supporting Matty Ashurst and was brought down short of the line.

A penalty from Finn eight minutes from the end gave his side more breathing space but Wakefield played the last six minutes with 12 men after Randell was shown a yellow card for a high tackle on Jonny Lomax as Saints went for the winning score.

However, the leaders lost their composure in the closing stages and Percival blotted his copybook by being sent to the sin bin for using abusive language to touchjudge Chris Kendall.

Castleford underlined the size of the task facing Steve McNamara as they hammered his Catalans Dragons side 41-0 to move into the top four.

The Dragons avoided relegation by winning the Million Pound Game last year but are destined for another scrap to avoid the drop after a dismal start to the 2018 season.

After letting a 21-0 lead slip against Wigan last week, Catalans appeared devoid of confidence and were duly put to the sword as Luke Gale inspired Castleford on his return from injury.

The England scrum-half laid on all three first-half tries with smart kicks and finished the afternoon with 13 points from the tee.

Paul McShane and Oliver Holmes both crossed twice for the Tigers while Michael Shenton, James Clare and Joe Wardle each scored once in a record Super League win over the rock-bottom Dragons.

Catalans arrived in West Yorkshire with only two wins to their name and their chances of recording a first victory on the road appeared remote.

The Dragons held firm in the face of incessant early pressure from Castleford after a basic error by Jason Baitieri on his own 20 and then asked questions at the other end.

But it quickly fell apart for the French side as Gale took over.

Castleford's opening try in the 15th minute owed much to the commitment of Jake Trueman, the young full-back beating Lewis Tierney to Gale's high kick before offloading for McShane to touch down.

The Tigers were in again shortly after when Shenton rose highest to claim Gale's pinpoint cross-field kick and they made it three tries in nine minutes through Holmes.

Gale forced a drop-out and in the next set slid through a left-footed grubber that Holmes grounded under no pressure.

There was no way back for Catalans at 18-0 and a dismal first-half effort was summed up when David Mead offloaded to Tigers half-back Ben Roberts with Castleford stretched.

It got worse for the Dragons when Mead hobbled off injured and Gale rubbed salt into their wounds when he knocked over a drop goal on the stroke of half-time.

Daryl Powell joked about giving Castleford fans half of their admission money back following another poor second-half display at Huddersfield but there was no let-up from the Tigers this week.

Tony Gigot almost got the Dragons on the board only to knock on reaching for the line and the Tigers went straight down the other end to score through McShane following a simple run around with Adam Milner.

Clare was next to cruise over after quick hands from Shenton and Castleford showed the other side to their game as solid goal-line defence kept the Dragons out, Benjamin Jullien coming closest when he dropped the ball over the line.

Wardle claimed his first try for Castleford from Roberts' grubber kick and Holmes finished from Clare's offload to round off a miserable afternoon for McNamara's Catalans.

Salford registered a first away win in the Super League for nearly 11 months after defeating Huddersfield 30-12 at the John Smith's Stadium.

Mark Flanagan and Ben Nakubuwai touched down inside the opening quarter of an hour while Weller Hauraki's second-half score and Jake Bibby's late brace clinched victory for the Red Devils.

Innes Senior and Oliver Roberts crossed for Huddersfield, who had firebrand captain Danny Brough sent off in the closing stages for dissent.

The Giants, still to win since parting company with Australian boss Rick Stone, remain one place off the bottom of the standings with only two wins from their 11 games.

Salford, meanwhile, moved into the top eight at the expense of Widnes.

Their three previous victories this season had come at home and they had not won a league game on their travels since a 38-12 success at Warrington last May.

But they made a promising start to redressing the imbalance as they went in front after 12 minutes when Flanagan barged over from a penalty, awarded after Brough, restored to the team following a hip injury, went high on stand-off Robert Lui.

Three minutes later Fijian international Nakubuwai raced onto a Flanagan pass and dived between the posts. Lui added the extras to both tries to give Salford a 12-0 lead.

The Giants hit back after 23 minutes when teenage winger Senior finished off a slick handling move by the corner post for his third try in two games.

Brough's excellent touchline conversion, halved Huddersfield's deficit by the interval.

Lui's third goal - a 46th-minute penalty - gave Salford a 14-6 lead and they increased their advantage five minutes later despite losing Josh Jones to a leg injury.

Penalised for holding down, Huddersfield cracked as Lui's strong run and final pass opened the door for Hauraki to register Salford's third try. Lui tagged on the extras.

Roberts touched down for Huddersfield as Salford lost Lee Mossop to a late head injury.

Lui protected his 100 per cent record from the tee with a 72nd minute penalty.

Brough's dismissal made no difference to Huddersfield's hopes of a fightback but summed up his team's frustrations.

They finished well beaten as winger Jake Bibby sped in at the corner for two tries in the final two minutes. Lui missed both conversions but Salford celebrated a vital victory.

Saturday

Warrington survived a second-half revival by Hull KR to secure a 40-26 victory - their sixth Betfred Super League game unbeaten.

The Wolves appeared to be coasting to victory as they led 22-2 at half-time, but the Robins claimed three tries in the opening nine minutes of the second half to cut the deficit to just two.

But the Wolves steadied the ship and tries from Tom Lineham, Stefan Ratchford and Ryan Atkins sealed victory.

Ratchford finished with a personal tally of 16 points as he also added six conversions, while Jack Hughes claimed two tries, with others coming from Mike Cooper and Ben Currie.

Hull KR, who were rocked by an early knee injury to captain Shaun Lunt 90 seconds in, claimed tries through Chris Atkin, Maurice Blair, Danny McGuire and James Donaldson with Ryan Shaw kicking five goals.

Lunt's withdrawal was a real blow, though his side did make the first move when Shaw kicked an early penalty.

After a somewhat lethargic start the Wolves gradually began to apply some pressure to the Rovers line, with Lineham ruled to have put a foot in touch as he went over in the corner and some excellent Hull KR defence held Currie up over the line.

The pressure told as the home side claimed three tries in a devastating nine-minute spell to take a stranglehold on the game.

First, Cooper's powerful charge close to the line saw the prop touch down under the posts and Ratchford converted to give the home side a 6-2 advantage.

And the Wolves followed that up with a quickfire second try four minutes later when Kevin Brown's pass allowed Hughes to stroll through the Rovers defence to score his first, which Ratchford again converted.

Warrington's dominance continued as they added a third try as Brown's excellent pass allowed Currie to cross unopposed and Ratchford's third conversion success stretched their lead to 18-2.

In the final minute of the first half Warrington claimed their fourth try in controversial circumstances as Junior Vaivai appeared to ground a Roberts kick before Hughes touched down for his second try.

After consulting with his touch judge, referee Jack Smith awarded the try to give the Wolves a commanding 22-2 half time lead.

Rovers gave themselves hope of a dramatic comeback with a sensational start to the second half.

Two minutes after the break Atkin's kick caused hesitation in the Warrington defence and Blair was first to react and pounce on the loose ball score.

Four minutes later, another kick, this time by McGuire, deflected into the hands of Donaldson to score and Shaw added both conversion to cut the deficit to eight points.

And it got even better for the visitors when Vaivai made a superb break from deep and Atkin was in support to take the centre's pass to score under the posts.

But the Wolves weathered the storm and three tries in seven minutes put the game out of Hull KR's reach as Lineham, Ratchford and Atkins all touched down to seal the win. McGuire claimed a late consolation try for the visitors.

Friday

Sam Tomkins was the hero as Wigan snatched their first win against Leeds at Headingley for six years.

A drab Betfred Super League contest burst into life in the last 10 minutes as the Warriors came from 8-0 down to claim a 9-8 victory over a Leeds side which led for most of the match.

Tomkins converted Oliver Gildart's 72nd-minute try from the touchline to bring his side to within two points and then kicked a penalty and a drop goal to secure a precious victory.

The Rhinos, who had a chance to leapfrog their opponents into second spot, went close to claiming a share of the spoils in a gripping finish, with half-backs Joel Moon and Richie Myler both failing with drop-goal attempts, and in the end were left to rue a series of missed chances.

Leeds were bolstered by the return of Moon, Adam Cuthbertson, Brett Delaney and Anthony Mullally and were clearly the better side in the first half without making it tell on the scoreboard.

Perhaps it was a hangover from the hectic Easter programme but the major talking point from a first half littered with handling errors and penalties was provided by the intervention of a streaker who appeared to be given free reign on the pitch just before the half-time whistle.

The only try of the half came midway through it when Leeds ran a penalty in front of the Wigan posts and their enterprise paid off with winger Tom Briscoe taking Myler's cut-out pass to cross unopposed at the corner.

Skipper Kallum Watkins added a touchline conversion to give the home side a 6-0 lead which they deserved on the balance of play.

Watkins twice went close to increasing the lead while Wigan were indebted to the defensive efforts of full-back Tomkins, who marred an otherwise impressive display with a couple of handling errors on attack.

The Warriors withdrew skipper Sean O'Loughlin midway through the first half and had scrum-half Sam Powell sin-binned two minutes into the second half for a "crusher" tackle on full-back Ashton Golding but Leeds failed to take advantage.

They would have doubled their lead had Myler been able to take Watkins' pass with the line at his mercy but his handling let him down.

The visitors looked more purposeful when O'Loughlin, fresh from orchestrating their comeback win over Catalans Dragons, returned to the action after 50 minutes.

They forced three goal-line drop-outs but were unable to turn the pressure into points and, when Leeds received a penalty within kicking range, Watkins took the opportunity to put his side two scores in front.

Wigan finally cracked the Rhinos defence nine minutes from the end, centre Gildart taking Liam Farrell's pass to finish off one of the best moves of the match.

Tomkins' touchline goal cut the gap to two points and Wigan almost scored again when substitute prop Ryan Sutton broke clear and found Gildart but Joe Burgess could not take the final pass.

The game looked set to end in a draw when Tomkins kicked a penalty four minutes from the end after Powell was tackled high by Delaney but the Wigan full-back had the final say when he landed a one-pointer from 35 metres out.

Thursday

Three tries in the space of six second-half minutes proved crucial as Hull got the better of spirited Widnes to win 39-20 at the Halton Stadium.

The Vikings made a raft of enforced changes from the previous week's 31-12 loss at Hull KR.

An unfamiliar centre partnership of Matt Whitley and Chris Dean, both more at home in the back row, epitomised head coach Denis Betts' injury problems.

Hull came into the contest with a few injury issues of their own but were able to bring back winger Bureta Faraimo following his suspension.

Widnes enjoyed the early pressure but were kept out by keen Hull defence and the injury jinx struck again when Dean left the field with a bicep injury.

In the ninth minute, and with their first real attack, Hull opened the scoring when Jake Connor's smart flick pass sent Danny Washbrook scampering over, with Marc Sneyd converting.

Hull doubled the lead to 12-0 when an Albert Kelly cross-kick was fielded by Faraimo, who sold a cheeky dummy before spinning out of a tackle and crossing for a six-pointer.

The Vikings came back strongly and, after a couple of penalties gave them field position, quick hands got Sam Wilde in at the corner, with Tom Gilmore kicking superbly to make it 12-6 on 20 minutes.

The remainder of the first half was nip-and-tuck but Gilmore pulled two more points back with a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Widnes co-captain Chris Houston went close following the restart but was stopped just short and became the latest Vikings injury victim in the process.

Betts' men continued to press and Tom Olbison sneaked over from dummy half, with Gilmore's conversion giving his side a 14-12 lead.

It would not last long as Masi Matongo cruised through a huge hole to score under the posts and Josh Griffin soon tore through the Widnes defence to score wide out to make it 22-14.

In the 59th minute, Hull went in again when a Sneyd kick was latched onto by Fetuli Talanoa in the left corner.

Sneyd missed the conversion but was on target with a drop goal with 14 minutes remaining to give his side a 27-14 advantage.

The Vikings refused to give up the ghost and Olbison hit a gap to cross behind the posts for his second converted try.

Widnes kept the ball alive desperately and a loose pass from Aaron Heremaia was latched onto by Griffin, who raced in from halfway.

Sneyd added the extras and was on target again when Jamie Shaul added a try at the death to confirm a 39-20 win for his team.

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