Five things: Smiling Saints, Bullish Baloo and more

Neil Barraclough

One – Smiling Saints

Eleven pairs of hands and a knock-on; that’s what went into one of the most dramatic tries of the season when Paul Wellens crashed over seven minutes from time against the Tigers.

The best was still to come with Adam Swift’s match-winner in a finish that evoked memories of Ian Millward’s win-it-at-the-death St Helens.

But those tries meant a tough night for Daryl Powell. He said: “We were just dumb in the second half.

“I don’t know what we were thinking. It was new Cas in the first half, old Cas in the second half.”

To sum up: old Cas doesn’t beat new St Helens doing an impression of old St Helens.

But can new Cas last the distance this year? We’re not sure they’ll stay in the top four, but a play-off place looks nailed on at the moment.


Two – Bullish Baloo

One of the teams Cas have replaced in the top eight, at least temporarily, is Huddersfield.

One win in their last eight and now cast adrift in 10th place just months after they won the League Leaders’ Shield, what’s going on at the Giants?

Nothing went right against Hull on Thursday, but coach Paul Anderson insists they’re not far off.

“Every club does the same shit,” said Anderson. “It just smells differently for some, that’s all.”


Three – People power

As if one Jamie Peacock isn’t enough, Wakefield had to run out in front of thousands of them at Headingley.

Leeds officials produced Peacock masks for the Headingley faithful to celebrate his 500th – err, 499th – career appearance.

Peacock marked the occasion with a try but then revealed it is his off-field experiences that mean the most.

He said: “I’m grateful for the career I’ve had. I’ve met some great people and had some great times. It’s widened my world like you wouldn’t believe.

“I was looking at some photos with Mac (Brian McDermott) on the way down. The person I was then, compared to the person I am today, there are a lot of things that are different – and that’s down to the people I’ve met.

“They’ve improved me so much and I’m always going to be grateful for that. When I’ve been thinking about it, that’s my overriding feeling – that I’m just grateful how they’ve improved me as a bloke.”


Four – Southern charm

Sounds like London Broncos finally produced something on Friday, leading 10-0 against Wigan before eventually going down 36-14.

But a night where seven of the game’s 10 tries were scored by southerners raised more uncomfortable questions about the Broncos’ future.

Is rugby league really prepared to let its UK-based top-flight existence be restricted to clubs in the north?

It’s less than three years since one leading RFL official declared: “The heartlands have been harvested.” But now a worrying retreat looks on the cards.

It will happen – that much looks certain – but, come the end of the year, can rugby league really afford to relegate its capital presence?


Five – Revolutionary Richards?

Amusing piece Down Under this week, where the Aussie press claims Pat Richards is “revolutionising the kick-off with his spiraling bomb-like restarts”.

They’ll be the same restarts he was using in Super League for years, will they?

Richards even says so himself, insisting: “I’ve been in England doing it over there for some time.”

Still, until it happens in Australia, it doesn’t happen at all – or so some would think.

Just another example of the insular mindset that we fear will hold back rugby league for years, perhaps decades, to come.

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Follow Neil Barraclough on Twitter @neilbarraclough