Are Salford dark horses for the top five? Will defence hold the key to the survival fight? Here’s a look back at all the action over the weekend in a bitesize fashion.
No-one’s stopping the Saints
It was tipped to be one of the most compelling games of the season; red-hot Wigan travelling to take on runaway leaders St Helens. There was much discussion around whether it should’ve been on TV, but the way Saints brushed aside the Warriors in front of a sold-out crowd suggested Sky made the right decision. Justin Holbrook’s side are now 10 points clear of their nearest rivals, and barring any last-minute hiccups or incredible slumps in form, it seems that Saints picking up the League Leaders’ Shield is all-but a formality.
New South Wales well worth their Origin title
All eyes were on Australia on Wednesday as New South Wales took on Queensland in a winner-takes-all State of Origin decider. For just the third time since 2006, Brad Fittler’s side claimed the series thanks to James Tedesco’s last-gasp try. Full credit must go to Fittler, who made some bold calls in game two to get his side back into the series, and has now won back-to-back Origin titles. Ultimately, Queensland – who fielded six debutants across the series – never looked their typically convincing selves in any of the three games and must improve if they are to avoid a first trio of series defeats since 2003-05.
Salford answer critics with shock win over Warrington
The biggest surprise of the weekend came at the Halliwell Jones Stadium as second-placed Warrington were toppled in their own back yard by Salford for the second time this season.
It’s not what you tipped.
You all just questioned players moving on where the hearts were at.
Suppose youll understand now
— Jackson Hastings (@JackoHastings) July 13, 2019
Although several of their players have already agreed to sign elsewhere for 2020, there was little doubting the effort and commitment of the Red Devils squad. Regardless of where players’ futures lie, they should remain committed to the shirt until the end of their contracts rather than downing tools, and that is so refreshing to see at Salford. They now sit two points outside of the play-offs and could be a dark horse for the top five as we enter the final weeks of the season.
Defence holds the key to relegation fight
Anyone who watched Leeds take on Hull KR on Friday will have been treated to a tense affair between two sides battling it out to avoid relegation to the Betfred Championship. During the 80 minutes, both sides – although most notably the Robins – had flamboyance to their attacking play and proved that they are quite clinical with ball in hand. However, slack defending from both sides left a lot to be desired on a number of occasions. With the bottom end of the table so congested, points difference could easily decide who drops out of the division. Huddersfield and Leeds have a significantly better points difference than the two sides below them; nevertheless, none of the sides fighting at the wrong end of the table can afford to be giving away cheap points in their remaining matches.
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