Power Rankings: Wakefield Trinity, Wigan Warriors and Bradford Bulls among 10 in-form teams

Ben Olawumi
Wakefield Trinity, Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors

Wakefield Trinity, Leeds Rhinos & Wigan Warriors are all featured in this week's Love Rugby League Power Rankings - Alamy

Each week this season, Love Rugby League will be bringing you our ‘Power Rankings’, ranking the top 10 clubs in the British game we believe have the most momentum behind them.

The 35 clubs across Super League, the Championship & League 1 are all in the running to be involved, with solely on-field performance affecting the rankings (we’re not IMG!).

Our first top 10 of the campaign is below, with all competitive games to this point taken into account.

For Super League clubs, that’s just their performance in their respective Round 1 clashes over the weekend, while we’ve considered the performance of Championship & League 1 clubs in both the 1895 Cup & Challenge Cup given that their respective league seasons haven’t got underway yet.

Without further ado, the Love Rugby League power rankings (20/02/2024).

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10. Hull KR

Mikey Lewis
Mikey Lewis celebrates Hull KR’s derby day win at Hull FC on Super League 2024’s opening night – Alamy

The Robins just about creep into our top 10 after their opening night win against Hull FC last Thursday. Any win is a good one, particularly in Round 1 when you’re still finding your foot, and against your rivals it’s an even better feeling. But for how good the feeling is and will be in the east side of the city, Willie Peters’ side didn’t have to be – and weren’t – at the top of their game.

Playing against 12 men for the vast majority of the second half, and even 11 for a briefer period, they weren’t exactly clinical. A 22-0 scoreline was comfortably deserved, but you feel later down the line this season, they could’ve left a heavier mark on their Black & White neighbours.

9. Batley Bulldogs

Championship outfit Batley also make the cut having won all three of their games so far across the two cup competitions, beating Featherstone Rovers & Hunslet in the 1895 Cup as well as Workington Town in the Challenge Cup.

You’d expect the Bulldogs to comfortably overcome the latter two, with both being League 1 sides, as they did. Featherstone aren’t the team they were last season either, and we’re sure Batley will have tougher tests to come. For now though at least, Mark Moxon’s men are on the right track and still fighting on two fronts ahead of the league season beginning next month.

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8. Leeds Rhinos

Leeds Rhinos
Leeds Rhinos celebrate an Ash Handley try in Round 1 against Salford Red Devils in Round 1 – Alamy

In similar fashion to Hull KR, we’ve included Leeds after their winning start to the Super League season, beating Salford Red Devils 22-16 under the Headingley lights on Friday night.

It wasn’t perfect from Rohan Smith’s side by any means, but it was gritty and exactly what you expect from a Rhinos side in that aspect. They probably wouldn’t have won that game last year. Plenty to work on, but a vast improvement.

7. Huddersfield Giants

Very very similarly, Huddersfield occupy a spot in the power rankings thanks to their gritty 16-8 win at Leigh Leopards last Friday, a game in which the Giants’ almost flawless defence earned them the two points rather than their attack.

Great teams are almost flawless in both aspects, and Ian Watson’s side certainly weren’t in their opener. Nonetheless, like Leeds, it’s improvement upon last year and a great start. That’s all it is though. If they follow it up this week, we might be able to talk about them again!

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6. Swinton Lions

We haven’t taken it into consideration, but Swinton – under the guidance of new boss Alan Kilshaw – impressed against a youthful St Helens side in pre-season, and they’ve earned their spot in 6th in these power rankings having continued that form into competitive action.

Getting geared up for a second straight season in the Championship, the Lions topped an 1895 Cup group involving the more-favoured Widnes Vikings & League 1 outfit North Wales Crusaders, then thumped community outfit West Hull in Round 3 of the Challenge Cup. More of the same in the league and Kilshaw’s side could be on for an impressive campaign.

5. Bradford Bulls

Michael Lawrence Bradford Bulls Alamy
Bradford Bulls forward Michael Lawrence at the 2024 Championship season launch – Alamy

At the opposite end of the scale in terms of expectation are fellow Championship side Bradford, who to this point in 2024 have got the job done in every game, with a similar tale to Swinton.

They hammered Dewsbury Rams in the 1895 Cup, and sealed progression in that competition over the weekend with victory at Keighley Cougars, surviving a late fightback from the hosts. In-between, at Odsal, they swiped aside North Wales Crusaders in the Challenge Cup, and will host fellow second tier heavyweights Widnes this weekend coming in the next round.

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4. Wigan Warriors

It’s unfair to say we saw the good and the bad in the reigning Super League champions at Castleford Tigers on Saturday night, but we definitely didn’t see them at full pelt. Wigan ‘did it tough’ in the first half at the Jungle, though so did both sides with a poor surface which was absolutely sodden.

Once they’d got the man advantage though, the Cherry and Whites breezed through, barely needing to get out of second gear. They’re not the favourites to go back-to-back for nothing, and in terms of ‘power’ – or momentum – they’ve certainly got it. A win in the World Club Challenge would be phenomenal for Matt Peet’s men this Saturday, but we’ll wait and see on that one!

3. St Helens

Jack Welsby
St Helens’ Jack Welsby (centre) celebrates his try against London Broncos in Round 1 – Alamy

Again, after just one game, it’s difficult to separate the Super League teams in terms of ‘power rankings’, in particular the top two on the actual ladder in Wigan and Saints. It’s Paul Wellens’ side who top the actual table on points difference, and we have them edging out their North West rivals – just – in terms of our rankings.

You’d have expected them to comfortably beat newly-promoted London Broncos, and they did. An eight-try haul with seven different scorers including one on debut for new hooker Daryl Clark, things look rosy at the Totally Wicked Stadium! The only downside being the four points they conceded at the other end, largely thanks to some Broncos ingenuity.

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2. Oldham

There was a lot of hype about League 1 side Oldham in pre-season, and they’ve backed it up with their performances on the pitch so far this season. Sean Long’s Roughyeds are the only League 1 side left in the 1895 Cup now having got the better of Halifax Panthers, the side that won the competition last year, and local rivals Rochdale Hornets.

They’ve also beaten another second tier outfit in Barrow Raiders away from home to progress in the Challenge Cup, and this weekend will look for a third Championship scalp of the year when they travel to Swinton in the next round of the competition, a game broadcast live on ‘The Sportsman’.

1. Wakefield Trinity

Wakefield Trinity
Wakefield Trinity thumped Newcastle Thunder 110-0 in the 1895 Cup – Alamy

Topping the inaugural Love Rugby League power rankings are Wakefield, who have – to this point – looked unstoppable following their relegation to the Championship. Trinity have wiped the floor with their opponents in the three games they’ve played to date.

Against League 1 strugglers Newcastle Thunder (1895 Cup, 110-0) and community outfit Siddal (Challenge Cup, 70-6), you’d have expected that. A 40-4 win at fellow ambitious Championship side York in the 1895 Cup though caught the eye. 36 of those points were unanswered, evidencing just how much of a force Daryl Powell’s side are going to be in the second tier.

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