It was another fantastic weekend of competitive action in round two of the Betfred Championship and we have picked out the main talking points…
Job done for London
Two games, two wins. 68 points scored, 12 conceded.
It’s a solid start for London who top the Championship table after round two, following a 12-0 win at Dewsbury Rams.
Following the loss of head coach Andrew Henderson and several starters during the off-season, London were tipped to suffer a down-turn in fortunes in 2018 and they aimed for a return to the top four.
But on the evidence seen thus far, the full-time capital club look set to challenge once more this year.
12-0 may not seem like a spectacular victory over last season’s eighth best side but boss Danny Ward will be pleased with his side’s defensive effort as they won to nil for the first time since 2016.
Tougher tests than Barrow and Dewsbury will come for the Broncos, they host second-placed Featherstone next week.
Featherstone look the real deal
The early pace setters in the Championship are evidently Featherstone Rovers.
Having been tipped by many to enjoy a strong 2018, the early predictions look well-founded as the Rovers eased to victory over another top four rival, this time in the form of Toulouse.
After seeing off Halifax last week, Featherstone have made the perfect start, putting some distance between themselves and the other Qualifiers hopefuls, even at this early stage of the campaign.
New half-backs Martyn Ridyard and Tom Holmes seem to have seamlessly fitted in at the Post Office Road whilst Anthony Thackeray, by trade a scrum-half, scored twice from full-back.
Add those creative talents to one of the divisions strongest and most experienced forward packs and Featherstone look to have all the ingredients for another top four finish.
Of course, there is still plenty of action to come – we’ve yet to see Featherstone play away from home yet – and next week’s trip to league leaders London Broncos will be a test of their top-four credentials.
Murray a fantastic addition to the Fax pack
Heading into this season, many questions were asked of the Halifax forward pack.
Experienced props Mitch Cahalane and Ryan Boyle had departed the club whilst new signing Harry Kidd and number ten Adam Tangata were ruled out as long-term injury absentees during pre-season.
But, judging by this display, Richard Marshall looks to have made some great reinforcements, and in particular, his very latest one in Salford loanee Daniel Murray.
Murray, who had a spell with the club last season, marked his second debut with two tries and an all-round man-of-the-match performance after joining the club for a month last week.
The front rower showed his raw power in his double, charging over the line on both occasions as Fax earned their first victory of the season.
Fax fans will be hoping that they can secure Murray on a longer-term deal after this performance, although a return to regular action at Salford shouldn’t be ruled out given the Red Devils’ slow start to the new season.
Must needed win for Leigh is delivered
The expectations delivered at the Leigh Sports Village as Leigh comfortably saw off Batley Bulldogs to earn a much-needed first win in 2018.
After last week’s shock 34-12 defeat at home to Toronto Wolfpack, Leigh couldn’t afford to lose more ground and they didn’t.
The Centurions won comfortably, taking a 18-0 lead after half an hour and never looking in any danger as they scored 16 unanswered second-half points.
Tougher tests will come soon for Leigh as they face three of last season’s top five, Toulouse, Featherstone and Halifax, over the next four weeks, and similar results to this one will be expected.
Championship wins won’t come easy for Toronto
Once again the surprise result of the weekend involves Toronto, although on this occasion the Wolfpack aren’t the ones causing the upset.
Sunday’s 8-8 draw away to Barrow Raiders proved that no wins will come easy to Toronto this year as they were unable to defeat a side that they had put 96 points past in two matches last season.
Given the atrocious conditions at Craven Park, points were always going to be at a premium although no one would have expected the Wolfpack to score just 8 points – their lowest ever total.
After last week’s win over Leigh, Toronto became the title favourites in many people’s eyes, but after this result, the fear factor surrounding the Wolfpack has surely been reduced.
Top four hopefuls Halifax and London are up next for the Canadian side and they’ll need a significantly improved performance if they’re to come away with four points from those two matches.
What did you think of the Championship action in round two? Let us know in the comments below.