It was the opening weekend for the Betfred Super League and the Betfred Championship and there are plenty of talking points.
Barba is the real deal
There has been a lot of talk in the off-season about St Helens being a lot of people’s favourites to win the Super League Grand Final and Ben Barba being the favourite to pick up the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award.
Well, they proved why on Friday night as they demolished 2017 League Leaders’ Shield winners Castleford Tigers 46-6 at the Totally Wicked Stadium, with Barba running the show. Its looking like it will take something special to stop the Saints in 2018.
Toronto are serious on Super League
The Championship first round clash between Leigh Centurions and Toronto Wolfpack has been highly anticipated in recent weeks and it didn’t disappoint. It was an emphatic showdown at the Leigh Sports Village.
Leigh led 12-0 midway through the first half before Toronto clicked into gear and scored six unanswered tries to claim a 34-12 victory against their title rivals in their own back yard. Super League is certainly the aim for Toronto and it now looks likelier than ever.
Widnes can attack very well
A big problem for Widnes Vikings in 2017 is that they struggled scoring points, scoring the least amount than other club in the top-flight. It looks like times are changing for the Vikings though, with them thrashing Catalans Dragons 40-12 at the Halton Stadium.
The win on Sunday saw them score more points than what they managed in any of their 23 regular season games in 2017. It’s amazing what one game can do as well, with some Vikings supporters now feeling enthusiastic over a possible top-eight finish this year.
Tomkins could be a revelation at half-back
Sam Tomkins is no stranger to playing in the halves, having been brought through the ranks at Wigan playing there as well as playing at stand-off for a couple of seasons at the start of his professional career.
He started at full-back in Wigan’s game at Salford on Friday night and later moved into the halves, with Morgan Escaré coming off the bench. Tomkins was top drawer when he made the switch and Wigan’s attack looked a lot more organised and free flowing. The 28-year-old, at half-back, could be Wigan’s key to success this year, with the Warriors going on to win 40-12 against the Red Devils.
Escaré at full-back, Tomkins and George Williams in the halves as well as Tommy Leuluai and Sam Powell interchanging at hooker could be lethal this season.
Hull KR set to do it tough
As always, it is extremely tough going for a promoted sports team in the season following the year that went so well in the division below. It’s no different for Hull Kingston Rovers.
They were defeated 28-6 by Wakefield Trinity at home in their first game back in Super League. The Robins will no doubt have a bumpy ride this year but they have a great coach in Tim Sheens and a good enough squad to stay in Super League so it’s not an impossible task to avoid the drop. It will be interesting.
What did you learn from any of the games this weekend? Let us know in the comments below.