It was a rare chance for the wider rugby league community to watch live Championship rugby league, as the exciting second tier hit our TV screens for the first time this season.
We take a closer look at five players who caught our eye over the weekend.
The France international half-back was instrumental in the London Broncos’ comprehensive victory over Featherstone. Partnering Jarrod Sammut in the middle, Barthau created the first two tries with a couple of neat short kicks, one of which was touched down by Sammut. His kicking game throughout was impressive in a controlled performance. Barthau, 27, played just 19 games for Catalans between 2010 and 2014, and has been with London since 2015, having also played for Toulouse and Dewsbury in the Championship.
Rochdale Hornets centre Eccleston played a key part in their excellent comeback against derby rivals Oldham. He kept them ticking over in the first half, scoring and creating two tries, and always seemed to ask questions of the defence with ball in hand. He made his professional debut two years ago with Halifax, and was previously with the Warrington academy. An example of a player lost to the system who was then picked up by Halifax following a trial in 2015.
London’s win over Featherstone was in part thanks to the excellent foundation laid by their forwards, nonemoreso than by Mark Ioane, a former Junior Kiwi. Ioane actually signed a new two-year deal with the Broncos in the build-up to the Summer Bash, and celebrated with a towering performance. The 26-year-old has NRL experience, having played 29 games for Gold Coast Titans and St George-Illawarra before arriving in the capital at the start of last season.
Toulouse are up to second in the Championship and it’s easy to see why after their win over Halifax. Only promoted from League 1 last season, their full-back Kheirallah caught the eye with some probing of the line and excellent kicking. He also snared a 90 metre interception against Halifax, though perhaps the only blot on his copybook was his decision not to back himself for the try in the corner. Instead, he had to settle for two points, part of eight he got on the day. The 27-year-old is of Lebanese descent and has spent much of his career playing in the lower grades in Australia, though made a solitary NRL appearance for Sydney Roosters in 2011.
In truth, the fifth choice in this list could have been any one of Chisholm, Jordan Lilley or Jordan Abdull, who all played their part in the Saturday night thriller between Bradford and Hull KR. Lilley and Abdull are on loan from Leeds and Hull respectively, while Chisholm is finally Bradford’s, after a contract stand-off with Sheffield was settled. His presence seemed to calm the Bulls and inspire them to what would have been a shock victory. Chisholm’s drop goal nudged the Bulls in front, while he also scored a key try in the second half. His premature departure through injury may well have impacted the Bulls’ efforts late on.
Photo courtesy of Richard Long.
Which players caught your eye at the Summer Bash? Let us know in the comments below.