Five Things: London go, Child grows and second-rate Poms can’t defend

Neil Barraclough

One – Going, going, gone

Warrington 72, London 12 – when it comes to relegation defeats, that’s as comprehensive as it gets.

At the start of this year, six clubs had featured in every Super League season. In a week’s time, only four could remain.
Bradford’s relegation is now a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’, and together with London’s demise it leaves only Wigan, St Helens, Leeds and Warrington as permanent members of the elite.

Without London, UK-based top-flight rugby league clubs are now restricted entirely to the M62.

Bradford’s impending relegation means another big city being struck off Super League’s map.

In the year that relegation has been reintroduced it’s right that both London and Bradford get the chop – they have been comfortably the worst teams in the competition.

But in 20 years’ time, will league historians look back at this week as a moment of immense damage? We can only hope it is the start of a rebirth for London and Bradford, rather than the beginning of the end.

Two – A growing Child

He is arguably the referee who cops most abuse from Super League fans, but James Child deserves enormous credit for keeping his cool in the face of enormous provocation from Catalan’s idiotic tactics in the third quarter of Saturday’s clash with Wigan.

The Dragons ignored repeated warnings, had two men put in the sin bin, and continued to tread a fine line between aggression and outright thuggery for large spells of the second half.

At one point Child, who couldn’t have been blamed if he’d blown his fuse, pulled aside Olivier Elima for a calm, but clear, rollicking.

Child said: “I’m doing everything I can to work with you, but you’re not responding to me. If you don’t respond, I’ll stick you on the bench. It’s up to you.”

Great refereeing from a guy who often doesn’t get any credit. Top stuff.

Three – Dragons disgrace

Having said that, we wouldn’t have had any complaints if either of the two yellow cards issued by Child had instead been red.

Benjamin Garcia’s swinging fist at a prone Sam Powell was horrible, but the most sickening event had been Vincent Duport’s choke-hold on Josh Charnley three minutes earlier.

This from a team that started the year by losing Olivier Elima for four matches for his leg-twisting antics on Hull’s Aaron Heremaia.

It’s an uncomfortable question, but it’s got to be asked: do Catalan have a genuine problem in their approach to an already stupidly tough sport?

Four – Great balls of muscle

On a more uplifting note, Rob Burrow’s return from a broken collarbone proved a huge success on Friday night.

Burrow started and finished Leeds’ late surge, finally breaking the deadlock after 59 long minutes before wrapping things up with the last try of the night almost 20 minutes later.

Super League’s smallest player is now approaching his 32nd birthday, but there’s no sign of his pace disappearing just yet.

Brian McDermott said: “He’s a little ball of muscle. I’m not sure whether he’ll ever lose his speed; I think injury will prevent Rob from playing, I don’t think he’ll get slow.”

Five – Second rate?

Has Sam Tomkins finally cracked the NRL, just as quiet whispers start to swirl that a return to Wigan might be on the cards?

We’ve no idea whether the rumours are right, but one thing is beyond doubt: Tomkins was a key part in New Zealand Warriors’ 48-0 win over Parramatta, prompting this line in the Aussie press: “Tomkins thought he was back in Britain playing against second-rate defences…”

We’re not sure whether Super League or Parramatta should be more insulted. Ouch.

Any thoughts? Drop them in the comments box below.
Follow Neil Barraclough on Twitter @neilbarraclough