Power Rankings: Wigan Warriors retain top spot, Hull KR rise, Huddersfield Giants enter the fray

Ben Olawumi
Bevan French, Peta Hiku, Kevin Naiqama

From left to right: Wigan Warriors' Bevan French, Hull KR's Peta Hiku & Huddersfield Giants' Kevin Naiqama

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 and League 1 are all in the running to be involved, with solely on-field performance affecting the rankings (we’re not IMG!).

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

For Super League clubs, that’s their performances across the first five rounds and the Challenge Cup Sixth Round, which took place over the weekend just gone.

Meanwhile, the Championship and League 1 seasons got underway earlier this month, and clubs in those divisions had already played games in the 1895 Cup and Challenge Cup this year as well, with four second tier clubs involved in Round 6 of the Challenge Cup.

For reference, last week’s Power Rankings are here.

Without further ado, the Love Rugby League Power Rankings (25/03/2024).

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10. Keighley Cougars (NEW)

Matt Foster
Keighley Cougars head coach Matt Foster speaks to the press at the 2024 Championship & League 1 launch day

Keighley are one of two new entries into the Power Rankings this week, and – spoiler alert – are actually the only League 1 club who make the cut.

Following relegation, the Cougars had a pretty poor pre-season, and didn’t go very far in either of the two cups, but since the start of the actual league season appear to have come to life.

Back-to-back thrashings of Cornwall and Workington Town see them top the third tier table in the early stages, and scoring over 50 points in each of those wins, momentum is definitely with them. They face Hunslet on Good Friday, the only other team in the division with two wins from two currently.

9. Huddersfield Giants (NEW)

The only other new entry comes with Huddersfield, who take ninth spot having absolutely demolished Hull FC to reach the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup.

Ian Watson’s side put on a show for the fans that attended the cup clash at the John Smith’s Stadium, and must now carry this momentum into the league campaign.

So far this year, the Giants – at least in our opinion – have only lost out to sides you’d have expected them to on paper in St Helens, Wigan Warriors & Hull KR. They’ve been impressive in the games they have won, probably not more so than on Saturday against Hull.

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8. Wakefield Trinity (Down 2)

Lachlan Walmsley
Wakefield’s new-look team includes free-scoring winger Lachlan Walmsley

Daryl Powell’s Wakefield actually weren’t in action over the weekend just gone having been knocked out of the Challenge Cup, so they have slipped down a couple of places in our rankings, but we didn’t think it would be fair to cast them aside altogether.

Trinity, barring that cup exit to Featherstone Rovers via golden point, have been impeccable so far in 2024 and were rampant against Bradford Bulls in their Championship opener on March 15.

They face Fev again come Good Friday, so we’ll get a good measure on how Powell’s side will react to a defeat for the first time.

7. Featherstone Rovers (Down 2)

Speaking of Fev, they still have a place in our Power Rankings too, albeit having dropped down a couple of places.

The Rovers, at least in parts, impressed in their defeat to Leigh Leopards on Saturday. Despite exiting the Challenge Cup, they put up a good fight and hung in to make it a real contest, largely thanks to some try-scoring heroics from off-season signing Manoa Wacokecoke.

Off the pitch (which we don’t consider for this!), the club is in disarray at the moment, but James Ford will hope his squad are able to continue putting in performances like we’ve seen over the last few weeks. Four wins in a row before the defeat against Leigh… we await to see how they’ll shape in the second instalment against Wakefield come Friday.

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6. Sheffield Eagles (Down 4)

Mark Aston
Sheffield Eagles head coach Mark Aston speaks to the press at the 2024 Championship & League 1 launch day

It’s a similar story where fellow Championship outfit Sheffield are concerned. The Eagles have dropped down four places in our rankings, but that’s largely down to the performances of the sides above them, rather than their own.

No one gave them so much as a prayer heading to take on Wigan on Friday night, and for 40 minutes, they gave the world champions a fright. Had it not been for Harry Smith’s penalty, the hosts would have gone in behind at the break.

Sheffield were comfortably beaten in the end, but if Mark Aston’s men can take that form into the Championship, they’ll not go far wrong. They kicked off the campaign with victory over highly-fancied Toulouse Olympique prior to the Challenge Cup exit, and this weekend travel to newly-promoted Doncaster.

5. Hull KR (Up 5)

The highest risers this week are Hull KR, who thoroughly deserve their spot in the top five of our Power Rankings following an absolute demolition job on Salford Red Devils.

Having been beaten at Wembley last year, the Robins sent out a statement – if one was needed – of their intent to get back there with their 40-0 win on Friday night, backed by the club’s faithful at Craven Park.

They’ve responded to back-to-back defeats with back-to-back wins now, and Willie Peters’ side look like they’re clicking back into gear. Not that their Black & White cross-city rivals needed any reminding, but the Robins look in fine shape to record a second Hull derby win this year come Good Friday.

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4. Catalans Dragons (Up 4)

Catalans Dragons
Catalans Dragons made it five wins from six (all competitions) at the start of 2024 with their victory at Halifax Panthers

Another club making waves are French outfit Catalans, who showed incredible professionalism yesterday as they sealed their spot in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals with a comfortable victory at Halifax Panthers, Tom Davies’ 15-minute hat-trick sending them on the way to a 40-4 victory.

It’s now three wins in a row for Steve McNamara’s men, who have still lost just the one game in 2024 so far. The Dragons are a force to be reckoned with when they get going, and that’s exactly what they’re doing at the moment.

Warrington provided them with a stern test in Round 1 of the Super League season, but they overcame it. Those two sides meet again this weekend, and it’ll be very interesting to see how that one pans out this time around. These are the type of games that we’ve seen Catalans grind out wins in so often over the last few years.

3. Warrington Wolves (-)

The aforementioned Warrington remain in third after a weekend which, like Catalans, saw them get the job done in the cup with very little fuss.

Sam Burgess’ side were expected to beat London Broncos, and did so without conceding a single point, scoring nine tries in the process. They’ve now won five consecutive games since that opening round defeat in Perpignan, including two back-to-back against newly-promoted London.

We’ve already seen the Wire show us what they’re made of a few times this year, namely in their hard-fought win at Hull KR, and they’re going to need to be on top form again when Catalans come to town. For now at least though, things look good at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

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2. St Helens (Up 2)

St Helens
St Helens celebrate a second win against Leeds Rhinos at Headingley in the space of seven days

We know Leeds Rhinos aren’t the team they once were, nowhere near in fact, but to go to Headingley and win two weeks running is no mean feat and that’s exactly what Saints have done.

Barring Harry Newman’s breakaway try, Paul Wellens’ side looked assured in defence throughout the cup clash at Headingley, and in both Super League and the Challenge Cup, they kept the Rhinos scoreless in the second half on their own patch.

Without Mark Percival’s red card against Salford, the Red V would have been heading into their Good Friday clash against rivals Wigan having won every game so far this year. All ifs, buts and maybes, of course, but Saints look very good value currently to be pushing for a return to glory come October. Good value for 2nd spot in our Power Rankings too, of course.

1. Wigan Warriors (-)

We’ll be honest. At Love Rugby League towers while writing this, we debated dropping Wigan down to 2nd in these rankings after Friday’s display against Sheffield.

BUT… champion teams win when they’re not at their best, and that’s what the Warriors did. Matt Peet’s side’s winning run goes on, unbeaten since last July. Since then, they’ve beaten every current Super League team – except rivals Saints.

This Good Friday clash is set to be an absolute corker. If Wigan emerge from it unscathed, we could be looking at a team capable of breaking records & reaching unprecedented ground. They keep hold of top spot in our rankings, anyway!

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