Shock and Awe

Firstly, may I say a big welcome to our visitors to the new and improved Last Tackle website.

This has been planned in the pipeline for a while, so I would like to say a big well done to all involved including James Gordon, the owner, who has put a lot of background work in.

I was a big fan of the old website,but there were some issues that needed changing so it will probably take as much time for all the staff to adjust, just as you readers.

You will have already (hopefully) witnessed the new live score centre which is becoming one of the fastest around, so that is a major plus and pulling point for us.

We are also part of the NewsNow network and Google News, so we are now getting a wider readership so we would really appreciate your feedback on all of the things in the website.

One thing to remember is that this website has been developed by volunteers. None of us get paid, none of us get anything out of it. The pleasure is purely all ours.

Anyway, returning back to Super League issues and both the Challenge Cup and Engage Super League have been blown wide open.

While St Helens and Leeds will always – for the time being anyway – be at the pinnacle of the Super League table, it is the chasing pack which is where the most interesting changes are being made.

While it is all early days, it is weird to think we are now over a quarter of the way through the 2009 season. Time is certainly flying.

But who would think that Wigan, Catalans, Bradford and Warrington – all part of last year’s play-off system, would sit outside the top eight?

Warrington seem to be Super League’s perennial underachievers. They have talent from 1-17, and with the changes being made by new coach Tony Smith slowly taking shape, they should quickly rise up the table.

Their defeat against Salford on Good Friday was a shock certainly, but it was just a minor blip.

For Bradford and Wigan, their sides have taken a bit of hammering in recent years, and fans of those respective sides have to remember that they are going through a transitional period.

Wigan have continuously changed their half-backs around and so it is taking time to get a settled side. The impact of Shaun Ainscough has been phenomenal though, and he will be an England international soon if he can continue this form.

I just hope that Wigan stick by him, even if he makes mistakes, as he looks a real talent.

I have to admit that I am not Steve McNamara’s biggest fan, but I have to appreciate the way he has continued his job under pressure and shown his determination to win by not throwing in the towel.

That certainly rubbed off on his players against Leeds, and while that was indeed a lucky win and they escaped, that will give them a massive confidence boost after two defeats they really should not have lost.

Against Castleford they were very good in defence and attack. The last twelve minutes by the Tigers just show how open Super League has become.

But speaking of the Tigers, a lot of people have gave them massive praise for the way they have performed this season. While this has been justified, and their record of five wins from eight games speaks volumes, I feel that the result against Wakefield had been coming.

John Kear has done a superb job at the Wildcats, and even in the face of adversity, he has proven his credentials as a superb coach. The Wildcats will go far under his guidance and I would not be surprised to see them in play-off action come the end of the season.

Who knows, they may even go one step further this season and make the final of the Challenge Cup too, following Leeds loss against St Helens.

While Saints are without a doubt favourites, Huddersfield should provide competition for Mick Potter’s side, providing they are kept apart.

Here’s to some more exciting games over the next few weeks.

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