Leeds Rhinos clicking, Warrington’s youth shines through: 8 conclusions from this weekend’s rugby league

Louis Chapman Coombe
Leeds Rhinos, Warrington Wolves, Hull KR

From left to right: Leeds Rhinos, Warrington Wolves & Hull KR all feature in our latest 'conclusions'

Rugby league always brings drama, and this weekend was no exception-with plenty of talking points across the leagues.

From faltering attacks, impressive young guns and momentum shifts ahead of cup finals, the latest instalment of the 2024 season certainly lived up to the billing.

Here are our eight conclusions from this weekend’s rugby league action…

Warrington Wolves youth shines through

Warrington and Wigan Warriors might have the Challenge Cup final looming over them, but the sides also faced each other in Super League this weekend. Sam Burgess opted to run much more rotation than Matt Peet, and it could be argued he will be the happier head coach despite the defeat.

Burgess made 11 changes to the side that beat Catalans Dragons a week previous, however Cai Taylor-Wray, Jake Thewlis, Nolan Tupaea and Ben Hartill all made impressive debuts for the club, and other youngsters also stood tall. There is certainly a bright future for the Wire if this performance was anything to go by.

Wigan Warriors lose key men

Following on from the above, Warriors boss Peet might be regretting going as full strength as he did. Duo Adam Keighran and Tyler Dupree will both miss this weekend’s Challenge Cup final at Wembley after copping lengthy bans, and Liam Marshall could also be in doubt after he picked up a knock to his knee – the winger did continue, but was strapped up as a precaution.

Could this decision to go fairly strong in the league cost Peet a second Challenge Cup?

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Leeds Rhinos clicking into gear?

This has been yet another strange season at Headingley, however Saturday’s victory over Castleford Tigers could be the game that kick-starts their season. Leeds – to the naked eye – appeared a lot more connected, and fluid in attack. The combination of Brodie Croft and James McDonnell seems to be a huge weapon in their armoury.

Add in the returning Paul Momirovski to the mix, the right edge is looking like a real strong point. They also deployed Rhyse Martin in a slightly different way this weekend, which brought the best out of him too.

Huddersfield Giants and Hull FC take away positives

It seems an odd thing to say, but both Huddersfield and Hull will be happy with the outcome of Friday night’s game. The hosts had been on a torrid run of five straight defeats in all competitions, but they put in a much more composed and measured performance to edge out FC.

The performance wasn’t brilliant by any means, but it is exactly what they needed to end a tough period. Likewise for Hull, they have been thumped by the same opposition twice this season already, but they put in an improved performance to push the Giants close. One gripe they might have is they only really played when the game was done, but Simon Grix can take plenty out of the improvements in his side.

Catalans Dragons slump continues

Steve McNamara’s side are in rotten form. They have only won two of their past seven games in all competitions, but what is more worrying for them is their attack. In those past seven games, they have only scored 98 points, an average of 14 per game. This might seem decent on first reading, but it is boosted by the 62 combined points scored against Hull KR (36) and Leeds (26).

Les Dracs are blessed with some of the best attacking players in the league, including Tom Johnstone and Jordan Abdull, but there seems to be a disconnect there at the moment. The defeats have also come to fellow play-off hopefuls too, so this is also a worrying sign for their title hopes. They need to fix something quickly.

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Hull KR show gritty side

The Robins have been able to tear teams apart this season, however their 12-0 win over Leigh Leopards on Saturday proved they know how to win ugly. Being unable to come out on top in these tight affairs was something that cost Hull KR last season, and ultimately, winning them is the mark of a champion team, which is the long-term goal for the club.

New recruit Kelepi Tanganoa was also pivotal to their victory, and head coach Willie Peters will start to rely on his abrasive carrying more often as the season goes on.

Differing results for 1895 Cup finalists

While the Challenge Cup final might be the main focus of attention this coming weekend, the 1895 Cup final also takes place at Wembley, as Wakefield take on Sheffield Eagles.

Daryl Powell’s Trinity ran riot at Belle Vue on Friday night, as they thrashed Dewsbury Rams 56-0, with 10 different names on the scoresheet. This set the bar for fellow finalists Sheffield fairly high, and they slipped to a 31-18 defeat away against Batley Bulldogs on Sunday. Momentum is always crucial going into finals, and Wakefield will go in as even heavier favourites now.

League 1 delivering

The title race in League 1 could easily be one of the talking points of the season. Keighley Cougars and Oldham are going hell for leather at the top of the table, but they were both pushed close this weekend.

A late Danny Craven drop-goal sealed an impressive comeback win for the Roughyeds against North Wales Crusaders, and the Cougars were pushed all the way by a resurgent Midlands Hurricanes side. Hunslet – on a four-game winning run and sat 3rd – are in the mix too, digging deep to fend off Workington Town on Sunday. The race to the Championship is well and truly on!