Return of the Airlie Birds

The Black and Whites completely outplayed the champions in every facet of the game, and thoroughly deserved their win. The Saints looked lethargic – surprising considering their recent good form – while their opponents were hungry. That hunger translated into success.

This would seem to indicate that Hull are back, climbing as they are up the engage Super League once again. Just over the fortnight ago last year’s Grand Finalists had just a solitary point to their name; now they have five, and lie ninth in the table.

Of course Peter Sharp’s men won’t be happy with that, but considering that they looked like one of the worst teams in the competition they can be pleased that progress is being made. Saturday’s performance shows that another title challenge cannot yet be ruled out.

St Helens, however, seem to have gone back to those pre-World Club Challenge losses to Wakefield and Harlequins. Victory against Brisbane Broncos seemed to have allowed the champions to turn the corner. The Knowsley Road side simply cannot afford now to let this result knock them back out of their stride.

Huddersfield Giants remain rooted to the foot of the table. Had they gained their first win against Hull (rather than the other way around) they may have kicked on and clinched that narrow game against Les Catalans. Instead they are still without a point.

It’s a shame, because in the ultra-competitive opening weeks Huddersfield haven’t looked like a bad side. In fact they lost out narrowly to the likes of Saints, Bradford Bulls and Leeds Rhinos. They will count themselves unfortunate that a tough start to the campaign has left them in this position.

The worst team at the moment appears to be Salford City Reds, who have not built on their impressive showings of last year. The Reds – unlike the Giants – did look like a team that could face the drop in their loss to Wigan Warriors.

Sunday sees Huddersfield and Salford meet. That will be a tense encounter, and the Giants will be hopeful of finally opening their account. Hull FC have another winnable game against Wigan, while Saints cannot be complacent against a tenacious Hull KR side.

Rise to the Challenge

The concept behind games such as the Carnegie World Club Challenge, as well as soccer’s FA Community Shield and UEFA Super Cup – namely that the winners of two competitions play in a one-off challenge – is an interesting one.

Now rugby league has another, which will debut when South London Storm ‘A’ welcome South Humber Rabbitohs to Storm Park in the National Challenge on 5th May. The Storm are current London League champions, and the Rabbitohs are Midlands League champions.

This is an intriguing concept, and hopefully one that will be repeated between the respective champions of these divisions next year. Look out for more information on the game on over the coming weeks.

World Cup Inspiration

Anyone following cricket’s world cup in the West Indies can’t fail to have been impressed by Ireland’s achievement in beating Pakistan. It just goes to show that a sport’s lesser lights can sometimes come up with the goods against giants of the game.

Hopefully our much-anticipated world cup in 2008 will see an upset on the same scale. The likes of France, Papua New Guinea and others that make it to the final ten will certainly be trying to prove themselves against England, Australia and New Zealand.

However, Australian organisers should take note that some of the Caribbean crowds have disappointed. Our world cup has to be marketed effectively if it wants to limit unfavourable comparisons with the 2003 rugby union version.

Keep Your Eye On Rugby League

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