Newcastle’s fourth consecutive Magic Weekend taught us a lot and we have picked out five talking points.
Bottom four just got serious
Wins for Catalans Dragons and Huddersfield Giants on the last day of the weekend has just added an extra spice to the fight for the top eight.
Prior to the weekend, Steve McNamara’s side were joint bottom with six points, four points away from 8th placed Salford, whilst Huddersfield were three points away. However, wins for both sides has seen the competition to avoid the bottom four heat up.
The John Smiths’ Stadium side now find themselves just one point from a top eight spot, after Salford lost out to Catalans on the opening fixture of the Sunday. The Dragons just two points behind.
The race for top eight has only just begun…
Castleford not done yet
Castleford Tigers have been doubted to have a successful season after their recent fall in form, but their win over Leeds Rhinos has proved that they’re not done yet.
The Tigers showed a dominant display over their fellow-Yorkshire side, claiming the two points with a 38-10 win. Tries for captain Michael Shenton, Alex Foster, Jy Hitchcox, Adam Milner, Junior Moors and Oliver Holmes.
Whilst knocked out of the Challenge Cup by table-toppers Saints, the Tigers find themselves fifth on the ladder, on the same points as Hull, and silverware isn’t out of reach for them just yet.
New fan favourite Harris
Imagine signing for a new club mid-week and making your debut in front of the biggest crowd of the season. Well, that’s exactly what Liam Harris did for Hull FC on Sunday.
The half-back joined from League One side Doncaster on Thursday morning, and scored six tries in ten appearances for Richard Horne’s team.
Harris, 21, signed a two-and-a-half year deal with the Black and Whites and just days later made his Super League debut in front of over 25,000 fans. Not only that, but he scored a try to celebrate the occasion and helped his new side to a derby win.
Credit to Cameron Scott, who also made is Super League debut for Hull FC, too.
Youngsters produce Magic
You can always rely on the youngsters of the sport at the Magic Weekend, with the action showcasing some of the sport’s most promising players.
Wigan St Pats deserve much credit, as try-scorers from the weekend’s second Super League game, Stefan Ratchford, Sam Tomkins and Sam Powell are all products of the club (pointed out smartly by Wigan Observer’s Phil Wilkinson).
Young-winger Liam Marshall showed his pace, out-racing Josh Charnley before setting up one of the tries of the weekend, feeding George Williams before crossing the whitewash himself.
Forward Mikolaj Oledski, who was also the first Polish-born player to appear for Leeds in 2015, also scored a try on his Magic Weekend debut, despite his team losing out to Castleford.
Hull FC and Hull KR also showcased some of the best youngsters in the league, whilst half-back Danny Richardson also made his Magic debut leading his side to victory over Widnes.
The future is bright in rugby league.
Attendances down at Newcastle
In it’s fourth consecutive year at Newcastle, attendance fell to it’s lowest since is arrival in the North.
Newcastle’s debut year saw 67,841 fans attend across the weekend, and the following year 68,276. 65,407 fans attended in 2017 for the unique rugby league experience, which has caught the attention of Australia’s NRL.
This year’s action saw 64,319 fans travel to the Premier League stadium for the weekend, but is it now time for the event to move on?
The Magic Weekend spent three year’s at Manchester City’s Etihad stadium before moving to the land of the Geordie, and now the event is rumoured to be moving on again. New York has been one of suggested locations, but only time will tell until we find out where the next hosting city will be.