Grading every Super League club’s first third of the 2024 season

Ben Olawumi
Huddersfield Giants, Warrington Wolves, Wigan Warriors, Leeds Rhinos

Clockwise from top left: Huddersfield Giants, Warrington Wolves, Wigan Warriors & Leeds Rhinos

Nine rounds of the 2024 Super League season have now been and gone, bringing us up to a third of the way through the regular campaign. Accordingly, we thought it was about time for an updated Love Rugby League gradings.

In the first few weeks of the new season, we gave each of the 12 top flight teams a grading based upon how they’d performed over the opening month or so.

10 of the 12 Super League teams have now played nine league games, with Leigh Leopards and Wigan Warriors each having one fewer on the board due to the latter’s exploits in the World Club Challenge.

Teams have also featured in the Challenge Cup, with that competition now at the semi-final stage with the two last-four ties set to take place next month.

Assessed alphabetically, find out your team’s latest grading below…

Castleford Tigers – E

Grade was: F

Craig Lingard
Castleford Tigers head coach Craig Lingard

When we delivered out first gradings of the year, Castleford got the lowest marks of anyone in the competition. That’s changed, and they’ve been propelled up a level thanks to the two Super League games they’ve won since including a 40-0 drubbing of London Broncos at the Jungle last weekend.

They also showed some fighting spirit in defeat at the DW Stadium against Wigan Warriors in Round 8, and injuries aren’t helping, but it’s still not been good enough on the whole from the Tigers. It almost feels like they aren’t bottom of the class any more because others around them have somehow been even worse, as we’ll get on to.

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Catalans Dragons – B-

Grade was: C

Looking back, Catalans‘ C grading may have been a little harsh, our theory was that they hadn’t got out of first gear in the first few matches. A few weeks on, we’d probably argue it’s still the same case – the Dragons have continued to win most games without looking like anything special.

That said, they are joint top at this stage, so deserve to go up a grade, but we can’t hand them a B outright or even a B+ having lost two of their last three. In defeats to Huddersfield Giants (Challenge Cup) and Leigh Leopards, they were really poor. There’s improvement to be had from Steve McNamara’s side and we’re eager to see them keep progressing.

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Huddersfield Giants – B

Grade was: C+

Adam Swift, Sam Halsall
Adam Swift (left) & Sam Halsall (right) celebrate a Huddersfield Giants win in 2024

Just after our initial gradings, the Giants were beaten by Hull KR. They went on to win five in a row though, including that notable cup win away against Catalans and looked sure fire for a B+ from us. They’d have got it had they hung on to win at St Helens last Thursday night, but Jonny Lomax’s drop goal put paid to that.

The best teams win those sort of games, so while we’re pleasantly surprised with Huddersfield’s start to the season, they’ve still got work to do having now lost four of their nine in the league. Continue winning in the league and come through next month’s cup semi-final unscathed, and we might be handing Ian Watson’s side a much higher grade.

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Hull FC – F

Grade was: E

There aren’t many who have dropped in grading, and given how low we rated Hull last time around, we can’t quite believe they’ve managed to lower our value of them yet again. When those first gradings were handed out, FC had won one of their first four with that narrow victory at home against London.

Since, they’ve lost every single game, conceding a mass of points in the majority and having to call upon youngsters. After sacking Tony Smith, Tex Hoy & Fa’amanu Brown left the club, they took a gamble on appointing Richie Myler as director of rugby and have been rejected by Paul Rowley. A terrible state of affairs, and if it continues like this, they’ll be asked to re-take the year!

RELATED: Why club legend Gareth Ellis has made a quick return to Hull FC with input from new director of rugby Richie Myler

Hull KR – B-

Grade was: C

Mikey Lewis Hull KR Alamy
Hull KR’s Mikey Lewis celebrates a win in 2024

Had we done these gradings a couple of weeks ago, KR would have troubled us on whether to give them an A or not, winning five in a row ahead of their trip to Catalans, where they got absolutely tonked. There’s high expectations on the Robins this year, and performances like that are just unacceptable if they want to be troubling the top three on the Super League ladder.

That said, they have booked their Challenge Cup semi-final spot and responded to the Catalans defeat in style with a big home win over Wigan at Craven Park last Friday night. We can’t decide if a B- is harsh or not, but they have been elevated up a grade and by the time we update these gradings again, an A could well be on the cards.

RELATED: Super League Casualty Ward – How your club is performing injury-wise

Leeds Rhinos – C-

Grade was: B

Leeds made a half decent start to this season, hence quite a high initial grade, but have since dwindled that away. Progress seems to have been halted, and there are sections of the club’s fan base who believe Rohan Smith is on borrowed time at Headingley.

Injuries are plaguing the Rhinos, but one win in five ahead of their trip to Hull last Sunday is the sort of statistic that’s becoming too commonly connected to a club of Leeds’ stature. They got the job done against FC, but the performance was far from one to remember. We’re not sure Smith is in danger in truth, though we have no choice but to drop their grading quite substantially.

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Leigh Leopards – D+

Grade was: E

Leigh Leopards
Leigh Leopards celebrate a try in 2024

Leigh were always going to improve once they started to get bodies back, with the Leopards suffering a spate of big injuries to key men in the early weeks of the season. At the time we published the initial gradings, they were yet to get their first win of the season, but they’ve now got two – beating Hull away from home in Round 5 and Catalans on home soil last Friday night.

That victory against the Dragons was a tremendous one, and having been close to winning a good few games which they ended up losing, Adrian Lam’s side fully deserve to have their grade elevated. By the next time we update these, we would wager they’ll have improved again.

RELATED: Leigh Leopards trio included in Super League Team of the Week from Round 9 with 7 different clubs represented

London Broncos – F+

Grade was: D-

It was always obvious that London were going to struggle to get results when they were promoted, but the small signs of hope that existed in the early stages of the season now seem to have disappeared, culminating in a heavy defeat at Castleford last Friday night.

They’re conceding a lot of points pretty much every week now, and it feels like we’ve got to the stage of predicting how many they’ll lose by each round rather than whether they’ll have a chance. We’ve never seen an ‘F+’, but the Broncos are getting one because we believe they deserve to be graded higher than Hull!

RELATED: The 7 longest winless starts to a Super League season as London Broncos bid to avoid making it into double digits

Salford Red Devils – A-

Grade was: B+

Paul Rowley
Salford Red Devils head coach Paul Rowley

Salford‘s biggest win so far this season was them keeping hold of boss Rowley, who rejected an approach from Hull. The Red Devils have lost just three times in the league to date.

Had they seen that victory out, and turned up against Castleford in Round 7, we’d have been more comfortable awarding them an A outright. Instead, we’ve stuck a minus next to it. There’s definitely room for them to move up if they continue on the same path in the weeks to come, however!

RELATED: Ranking the top 10 metre makers in Super League so far this season

St Helens – A-

Grade was: B

This was perhaps the most difficult grade to decide on – Saints are top of the league, but don’t look anywhere near their best, and there seems to be sections of the club’s fan base that aren’t entirely happy with head coach Paul Wellens. In summary, there’s a bit of a weird vibe around them at the moment.

Getting wins is always going to be the most important thing in any sport, hence the ‘it’s a results business’ cliché. But having not been beaten in two of their last three, missing out on the chance to get to a Challenge Cup final, we wouldn’t have been entirely comfortable in handing them an A outright, so again, there’s a minus attached to it.

RELATED: The latest LoveRugbyLeague Power Rankings – St Helens rise as Wigan Warriors drop with Wakefield Trinity among Championship trio included

Warrington Wolves – A-

Grade was: B+

Joe Philbin, Matty Ashton
Joe Philbin (left) and Matty Ashton (right) celebrate Warrington Wolves’ victory at St Helens in the Challenge Cup

We’re yet to see Warrington throw in a ‘stinker’ of a performance this year, even with three defeats to their name. Sam Burgess’ side reached the semi-finals of the cup with an impressive last-eight win away at Saints, and that’s done some heavy lifting to get them an A-.

Their task now is simply to carry this on, and if they do, they’ll cement an outright A from us. We’re intrigued to see where they end up – booking a first trip to Wembley in five years would be a terrific start.

RELATED: Warrington Wolves head coach Sam Burgess provides update on Leon Hayes injury

Wigan Warriors – A

Grade was: A

Wigan are the only club whose grading hasn’t changed, and that’s because we honestly can’t make our minds up as to whether they’ve progressed or regressed since we first dished our verdict out and handed them an A shortly after becoming world champions.

In truth, we don’t think Matt Peet’s side have been anywhere near their best since they beat Penrith Panthers in the World Club Challenge, they just seem to comfortably get the job done most weeks, though again we can’t decide whether that’s because of the standard of the rest of the competition.

The Cherry & Whites were beaten at Saints on Good Friday in a thriller, and they were down to 12 men for the last 20 minutes or so of that game. But being beaten heavily at Hull KR last Friday night, they were the poorest they’ve been for some time. It stays at an A, and we’ll see how they fare over the next few weeks.

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