The Northern Rail Cup got underway this weekend with no surprise results. Castleford and Widnes both secured expected wins, as did Leigh and Whitehaven. The first round games also introduced the new system of three points for a win, two for a draw and one for a loss of less than 12 points.
In Group 1 Castleford secured an emphatic and easy 30 points to 6 victory over Doncaster at the Keepmoat Stadium. The Tigers raced into an early lead, through Andrew Henderson and Tommy Saxton. Dwayne Barker, Richard Owen, Henderson for his second, and Stuart Donlan all got on the score sheet. Loz Wildbore scored a late consolation to spare Doncaster's blushes. In the other game of Group A, Featherstone surprised Sheffield Eagles with a resounding 54-22 victory at the Chris Moyles Stadium. Featherstone raced into a 18-0 lead through tries from Paul Hughes and Tommy Haughey. Further tries from Danny Kirmond, Dale Cardoza, Jon Whittle, Paul Handforth, Chris Ross and Wayne McHugh completed the rout, to put them on top of Group 1 for a short while.
In Group 2 York City Knights sit top of the league after a comfortable 58-12 win against Gateshead Thunder. Thunder opened the scoring after 4 minutes, but it was one way traffic afterwards, with stand out name Taboanltoga Cakacaka getting on the scoresheet for the Knights. In the other game, Halifax were cool and collected in their 44-18 win against Keighley at Cougar Park. Mark Roberts, Frank Watene and Mick Govin all getting on the try scoring list.
Group 3 Dewsbury Rams caused a stir with a 49-6 demolition of Batley at Mount Pleasant. The Bulldogs are expected to be pushing for a playoff place come the end of the season, and this will prove to be a disappointing start to the new season. Liam Finn was the stand out player kicking three goals and scoring a try for the Rams. In the other cross-league clash Hunslet lost against Swinton, in a tight affair. The game finished 38-20.
The other game in Group 4, Rochdale beat Oldham 24-8.
Group 5 held no surprises with Barrow comprehensively beating Blackpool, and Whitehaven beating Workington. Carl Sice was the stand out player for Haven scoring two tries in their 44-18 rout. Barrow emphatically won 44-4, with James Nixon in form scoring a try in each half.
Widnes Vikings kicked off Group Six with a resounding 56-6 win against the Celtic Crusaders in Wales, on Friday night. Scott Grix picked up a hat-trick while Dennis Moran and Bob Beswick both picked up braces, in an unsurprising victory. Leigh Centurions also competed in a one sided affair. They demolished the London Skolars by 52 points to 8 in the capital. Miles Greenwood, was the pick of a crop of standout players, recording a hat-trick for the Centurions.
In the final Group of the Northern Rail Cup, both Bramley Buffaloes and Warrington Wizards picked up largely unsurprising victories. The Wizards won 42-22 against Dewsbury Celtic, while the Buffaloes won 42-6 away from at Hemel Hempstead.
Full list of scores:
Batley Bulldogs 6-49 Dewsbury Rams
Doncaster Dragons 6-30 Castleford Tigers
Featherstone Rovers 52-22 Sheffield Eagles
Gateshead Thunder 12-58 York City Knights
Hemel Hempstead Stags 6-42 Bramley Buffaloes
Keighley Cougars 18-44 Halifax RLFC
London Skolars 8-52 Leigh Centurions
Oldham Bears 8-24 Rochdale Hornets
Swinton Lions 38-20 Hunslet Hawks
Warrington Wizards 42-12 Dewsbury Celtic
Workington Town 18-44 Whitehaven RLFC