It’s that time of the week again, yes it’s blog post prediction time. I had nearly forgotten about this having had last week off due to the challenge cup. I like the challenge cup (not just because I give myself time off from blogging) it generally means I get to watch a bit more rugby, I don’t catch that much on Sky at the moment sadly, and last weekends BBC coverage certainly brought some great games.
There were some complaints though on Twitter about the coverage and well I have a bit of a reputation for moaning about TV coverage so I thought I’d wade in. The first thing I want to say though is quite simply we need to keep the Challenge Cup on free-to-air, I’d love to see viewing figures but it is certainly open to a larger audience on the BBC than Rugby League on Sky Sports. Following on though some people were complaining, mainly about Jonathan Davies and Brian Noble.
I’ll start with Davies as I complained about him myself, now I like Davies, I’m a Widnes fan who grew up watching him win games for us, and I’m not doubting his knowledge of the game it’s certainly at a level well above mine and just about everyone who complained about him on Twitter. I complained because during the first half of the Castleford – Wakefield game he sound bored, at one point he issued a rather heavy sigh. I don’t mind if he was bored, that’s fair enough, but he could’ve at least hidden it. I do think though that he works much better as a co-commentator with Ray French, French is over the top enthusiastic and such an established voice that they do sit well together.
The other complaints I saw were about Brian Noble, although nothing beyond the constructive “Brian Noble’s rubbish”, er right useful. Personally I think he’s not bad and in case you hadn’t worked out he’s a consultant on the Gareth Thomas film starring Mickey Rourke – I don’t think Clare Balding has talked to Brian Noble once without trying to work in that snippet of trivia.
But the action on the pitch is what it’s all about and we had two great games. Wigan Bradford on the Sunday was for many marred by the sending off of Gareth Raynor who has since picked up a ban for his strike on Tomkins. All credit to Tomkins who managed to ground the ball whilst unconscious, beating Pat Richards who had earlier dropped the ball over the line.
A 12 man Bradford pushed Wigan all the way in what was a great game and out came the conspiracy theories, that Steve Ganson, who for so long has apparently been robbing Wigan of games, was now stealing the thunder of Bradford Bulls.
The second game saw a thriller played out between Castleford and Wakefield that went to golden point extra time and with it went everyones common sense. Drop goal attempts everywhere and my god they were hideous. I’m surprised there isn’t a youtube video showing them all with the Benny Hill soundtrack playing. Personally I’m not a great kicker, it’s one of the things I’ve struggled with when I’ve ventured onto to pitch to play the other code, so I generally don’t bother, but if you’re supposed to be a Super League player who kicks the ball you should be able to hoist a drop goal attempt above the height of the cross bar and maybe within 20 yards to the left or right of the posts.
I was also quite surprised that the draw for the next round wasn’t on afterwards, I’ve no idea why, but it was pushed to Monday night on Look North, which meant fans of three of the teams couldn’t watch it. Still why would I expect the BBC to have sensible scheduling, they’ve been picking times out of a hat to schedule The Super League show for ages. The next round will also be played in July – I don’t get a week off again till July?! We’ve had two rounds in as many weeks and now we wait nearly two months? Madness
Still not quite the maddest thing to happen recently, no I think the move of Willie Mason to Toulon has to take on farce of the week. In a (long) sentance Mason turned up from Aus, couldn’t play till Michael Dobson got injured, then turned out to not be quite as good as he claimed or as he used to be, then he got de-registered again when Dobson was fit, couldn’t convince the Tongan king to sort out his passport and now he’s off to play Rugby Union with Toulon. Well the whole thing doesn’t cover anyone with glory, but our cousins in the Rugby Union have proved themselves just as daft, if not dafter and picked Mason, apparently at centre for the Barbarians to play England. Yep this is a man who has never played a top flight Rugby Union game running out to make his debut against England, at Twickenham. Don’t worry though if it doesn’t work it’ll be Rugby League’s fault somehow.
It’s a pity it was a challenge cup weekend, as I did rather well in my last round of Super League predicting, my first 100% week, not ruined by a draw anywhere! Hopefully it won’t be my only one of the season, so here’s this week.
Hull FC 16 – 28 Huddersfield – I’m reckoning on a Huddersfield win here, although both teams have 3 wins in the last 5 I think Hull may struggle.
Leeds 22 – 30 Warrington – Warrington had a record breaking stroll out against Swinton last weekend, Leeds faced tougher competition against Quins and may well be welcoming Webb and McGuire back, though they are without Keith Senior for the rest of the season. Likely to be the game of the round I’m tipping Warrington to sneak an away win.
St Helens 32 – 18 Crusaders – I can’t see past Saints here and well, I’d imagine they’ll be few who can and whilst I’ve tipped a few Crusaders upsets this season I doubt this’ll be one. May well be more comfortable for Saints than 14 points.
Wigan 40 – 18 Hull KR – Wigan are on a good run of form, 5 wins in the last 5, where as Hull KR are a bit indifferent, probably not helped by the off the field circus they’ve had this season. The DW isn’t a place to come and put that to rest though.
Castleford 18 – 8 Harlequins – Both teams have dropped a little since their good start to the season although Quins probably more so. Cas will be hoping to ride a great, if tiring, Challenge Cup win last week and carry it into league form, a home win.
Wakefield 18 – Catalans 26 – Catalans are certainly performing better away from home than in France, having taken scalps at Quins, Wigan and Warrington in away visits this season, they could well add to that at Wakefield this weekend.
Bradford 30 – 10 Salford – Amongst the complaints and controvesy in last weekend challenge cup game Bradford did manage to produce their best performance all season. A performance anywhere near that and they could well be more than 20 points away from Salford.
So there you go, back to Super League and back to business.
An old video but this popped up on the web this week for the NRL launch, which I hadn’t seen before mainly due to living in England.
NRL 2011 Season Launch “Bon Jovi” from Scott Patterson on Vimeo.
Whilst I would question the use of any Bon Jovi song other than Living on a prayer for promotional purposes I’m wondering if the video actually documents some of the on the pitch innovations for the NRL. I’m not sure if jumping through hoops of fire or avoiding giant buzz saws to score will catch on but if they try it down under, they’ll probably try it over here and eventually they’ll probably all do it in Rugby Union and claim they thought of it first anyway.
I also managed to miss the first of this seasons Origin games as I was a bit busy, I also forgot it was on and didn’t make myself un busy for it but I shall certainly try to for the rest of them. Personally I’m a bit neutral but there certainly seemed to a New South Wales vibe in my twitter stream and it has got me wondering how many people, who would otherwise be neutral, prefer NSW simply because they read Oh Errol? I imagine there’s quite a few.