Forty-20 Column: The Morning After

Hallelujah. We wake up after the weekend and referees performances are not top of the agenda, they’re second, just ahead of media injustice.

Thank you Rangi Chase who produced such a sublime moment of skill in creating Josh Griffin’s second try in the Red Devils’ debut season win against Hull, that it went globally viral. One up for the entertainers.

Even Aussies and Kiwis, getting giddy for the return of their competition this week, purred as the vine continued to grow on timelines here. Americans went wow and even wizened curmudgeons stopped analysing crowd figures to try and work out how Roger did it, dummying and passing first to himself, slipping out a tackle and then, having drawn the cover, producing a wonder pass around his back to pick up the best supporting role in 2015 so far.

In our awe, we even forgot to credit Griffin for a fine step and finish that was still needed to garnish Rangi’s special dish. At this rate we might even acknowledge that he is English once more. What credit Tim Sheens takes for the unfettering of the genius is not known, the Kangaroos coach in the first throes of his three week consulting role at Salford and fresh from a long, convivial dinner at the Harris’s.

Frustrated Hull coach Lee Radford made an early play himself for quote of the year claiming, “There aren’t enough hours in the day to practise defending against that.”

Despite his mercurial brilliance, interestingly from full back owing to an injury reshuffle in the Red Devils’ ranks, Rangi was run close for top performer by Catalans debutant Todd Carney who, with a raking 40-20 and some quality pass assists had the sang et or locals – who need little excuse for a terrace party – dancing with delight.

Carney T also brought the best out of Scott Dureau in a half back combination that promises as much salivation as ‘Ànec amb peres’ and warm Roussillon red.

Not that it was overwhelmingly good news for those with the surname Carney. Justin of that ilk was equally noteworthy but for the wrong reasons, his aberration two minutes into the second half at Saints, which gifted a try to Josh Jones and gave the hosts a decisive 14-point lead, almost eliciting brimstone in the usually placid Daryl Powell.

Although Carney J responded with a couple of touchdowns, the gap created proved enough for Saints to hold on and stay top, a feat which became even more praiseworthy following the losses of the other World Club Series participants, Warrington and Wigan, who both ran out steam, and allowed frustrations to mount as a result, after their exertions against NRL opponents on heavy pitches the week before.

Those sides with the week off had the chance to regroup and effectively begin their campaigns again especially in the case of Hull KR who gave high profile visitor David Campese, there to see nephew Terry, a fine exhibition of the Lazarus effect, coming from 14 points behind to down Wigan. Three scores is not sufficient to ease back with a Hamlet these days, it would appear.

The legacy of Russell Crowe’s celebrity stardust waved over the sport was enhanced by Widnes who drew massive praise for the unveiling of their Newcastle United Magic shirt in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, endorsed by Peter “I genuinely, absolutely love it, it’s brilliant” Beardsley and Didi Hamman.

Paul Aiton celebrated his first-ever blue and amber try over a year after joining Leeds to ensure the Rhinos remained unbeaten and become the first and, so far, only side to top 100 points scored, while Hull, who they face on Thursday at the KC, despite their loss, have the second-best defence in the top flight despite sitting eighth.

Hunslet picked up the unsung award for their fine 18-6 win over Dewsbury in an increasingly competitive Championship which saw a 22-year crowd high at Featherstone, due reward for the work of the volunteers on their ‘new’ stands from Scarborough which featured on Match of the Day – more terrific publicity for our community values.

And, even if all the ‘development’ sides went out in the first round of the iPro Sport Cup – extra kudos to the RFL marketing team there – Gloucestershire All Golds gave Barrow an almighty scare in knee deep Lancashire mud.

There was so much positivity this weekend it pushed Gareth Hock’s move to Leigh down the pecking order. Maybe this really is a new era what with Spain becoming the 20th Rugby League European Federation member too.

The broadest smiles are in Salford the morning after.

 

 

PHIL CAPLAN

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