It’s Sunday night, so time to take a look back at some of the issues from the weekend.
Stop worrying Salford
Salford fans can stop worrying. You will make the top eight. There seems to be a worry building amongst the Red Devils faithful, owing to the collapses they have witnessed in previous years, but also because of the complaints from their hierarchy that crowds haven’t improved despite Ian Watson’s remarkable work. Ultimately, none of that impacts on where the Reds will finish this season – and under Watson, they are solid, consistent and gutsy. They keep themselves in games and find a way to win, even when not at their best. Their latest win, over Widnes, puts them probably within three wins of securing a top eight finish with a reasonable run in of games to come.
Who knows where Huddersfield pulled that performance from on Thursday. Having seen them a few times in recent weeks, there seemed to be no chance of them not being anywhere but the Million Pound Game in September. But as seems to be the case with Super League these days, a result came out of nowhere and now they may well be looking up rather than down. Leeds seem to be developing a habit of succumbing to teams in desperate need of a win – Leigh fans will no doubt be taking a look at the fixture list as we speak.
Out of form Brown
It doesn’t say much for the talent available that out-of-sorts Kevin Brown has been called up to the England squad as a late replacement for the injured George Williams. Save for his performance against, ironically, Wayne Bennet’s Brisbane Broncos, Brown has been disappointing since joining Warrington. In reality, he was picked for the England team at least two years too late and hasn’t had the chance to impose himself on the international stage, whereas by now he could (and probably should) be a key man with experience leading in to a swansong at the World Cup. With the withdrawals and the strength of the Samoa team, it’s going to be a tough ask for England.
Timing still isn’t right
Speaking of Huddersfield, it will be interesting to see how they do against Castleford, who will be missing three key players – Zak Hardaker, Luke Gale and Mike McMeeken – owing to the international clash. I’m still not too comfortable with the game being arranged for the same weekend as a Super League round. Warrington have gone from having one player selected to three, and presumably Tony Smith’s had to tear up his plans for their crucial game against St Helens. Meanwhile, Wigan have lost George Williams through injury anyway, though would have suffered regardless, given their also missing Thomas Leuluai too.
Championship talking points
We still don’t see any of it, but the Championship is turning up some remarkable games and stories. Oldham turned around a 24-6 half-time deficit at Dewsbury to win 24-28, which could have a telling impact come the end of the season and the relegation places – that is, of course, unless the game’s structure changes. Toulouse’s thumping of Bradford and a brave effort by Rochdale at Hull KR should be getting far more attention than they are doing – it’s time pressure was put on Sky to do something with the rights they have ringfenced until 2021.