Five things we learned: St Helens are beatable, player welfare priority, Catalans fear factor

There are a few talking points from the weekend’s Super League and Challenge Cup action.

St Helens are beatable

We found out on Friday night that Justin Holbrook’s St Helens side are, in fact, beatable. Some fans thought Saints could go the regular season unbeaten this year after having won five out of their opening five games, but current champions Leeds Rhinos had something to say about that on Friday. Leeds put in a solid second half display to beat Saints 28-20 at the Totally Wicked Stadium after playing 75 minutes with only three subs. St Helens fans shouldn’t be too worried by the loss though, every team has an off-day. 

Leeds should be talked about more

A lot of people seemed to be talking about the likes of St Helens, Wigan Warriors and Castleford Tigers in the off-season when tipping who they think would win the Super League Grand Final, but Leeds Rhinos barely got a mention. They will go under the radar again this year but will no doubt pick up silverware or be very close to doing so. Brian McDermott’s side put in a decent performance to become the first team to beat St Helens on Friday night, but the best is still yet to come from the Rhinos.

Player welfare must come first

There is a lot of talk about player welfare in rugby league at the moment. It should be the number one priority in the sport. The conditions in the game between Wakefield Trinity and Widnes Vikings at the Mobile Rocket Stadium on Saturday were appalling (google the pictures if you haven’t already seen them). It was snowing, there was a strong wind and it was close to freezing temperatures in Wakefield but the game went ahead, but why? Of course, we would want the game to be played but not in them conditions. It was abandoned in the 26th minute. Our players are true athletes who aren’t on massive wages and put their bodies on the line every week, so we need to respect them, not force them to play in a game that puts them at huge risk and the game would only be poor to watch anyway. If the conditions are that bad – the games shouldn’t go ahead. End of story.

The Cumbrians go marching on

What an exciting weekend it was for the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup. It was the fourth round and even though four games didn’t go ahead due to the poor weather conditions, there were still eight brilliant games. Gene Ormsby scored on his Barrow debut to help the Raiders beat Sheffield Eagles while League 1 side Whitehaven edged past Dewsbury Rams at the Recreation Ground. Workington Town put up a good account of themselves against Championship table-toppers London, but the Broncos came away from Derwent Park with a 22-20 victory. The fifth round draw is going to be interesting on Tuesday.

Teams do not fear going to Catalans anymore

Catalans Dragons’ solid home form seems to have faded this season. Opposition teams used to dread going over to Perpignan to face the Dragons, but now, they probably look forward to it. Warrington Wolves won 26-0 in the South of France on Saturday and their start to the season has been shocking, winning just one out of their first six games, sitting rock bottom of the Super League table. Steve McNamara’s men have got to turn things around quickly, unless they could be replaced next year.

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