The Championship Chat: The Qualifiers Round 1

Hull KR and Leeds start strong
Both Super League clubs, who went up against part-time Championship teams, couldn’t afford to slip up in the first round of matches and they avoided a shock defeats with ease. Leeds Rhinos beat Featherstone Rovers 62-6 before Hull Kingston Rovers triumphed 58-18 against Batley Bulldogs. Kallum Watkins was the star of the show for Leeds with four tries, while fellow Rhinos Liam Sutcliffe and Joel Moon added braces to the scoreline. Mitch Achurch, Carl Ablett and Tom Briscoe were the other try-scorers for the visitors while Anthony Thackeray notched Rovers’ only try of the contest in the first half.

Batley were 6-0 up in the opening stages through Alistair Leak but Hull KR soon got down to business as they strung together six tries on the bounce. Thomas Minns scored an hat-trick while Iain Thonley, Matty Marsh and James Greenwood all notched a try each. Tom Lillycrop crossed for the Bulldogs in the final minute of the first period. Ben Cockayne, Greenwood, Maurice Blair and Josh Mantellato were the try-scorers for the Robins in the second half before Alex Rowe registered a consolation score for the Bulldogs.

Leigh survive London fightback
On Saturday evening, Leigh Centurions played host to London Broncos and it turned out to be a nail-biter. Leigh won 34-30 but London scored four tries in the final nine minutes of the contest to set up a thrilling finale. The hosts were 14-8 up at the break after tries from debutants Matty Dawson and Mitch Brown as well as a penalty goal from Martyn Ridyard. Ben Hellwell got London on the board with their first try of the game and Soward also kicked a penalty goal. Ridyard started the second half with another penalty goal to add to his tally prior to Reni Maitua barging over the whitewash to extend the lead. Brown and Dawson completed their braces inside the final quarter before London fought back. Api Pewhairangi got the ball rolling for the Broncos before Soward and Greg Worthington were both dismissed for fighting. This didn’t seem to bother London who started to throw caution to the wind. Pewhairangi doubled his tally for the evening before Andy Ackers and Daniel Harrison both scored converted tries to bring the scoreline to 34-30. However, the comeback remained incomplete as the Centurions scraped past their fellow Championship counterparts.

Salford win all-Super League battle

Salford Red Devils started their Qualifiers campaign with a 34-12 win over Huddersfield Giants at the AJ Bell Stadium. The hosts were 20-0 up at half-time following tries from George Griffin, Mason Caton-Brown and Weller Hauraki. Gareth O’Brien also kicked a penalty goal during the first period. In the second half, Ben Murdoch-Masila scored Salford’s fourth try of the game before Nathan Mason and Oliver Roberts got the Giants on the scoreboard with a try apiece. However, two tries in the final quarter from Caton-Brown sealed the victory for Ian Watson’s side. Another loss for Huddersfield with the pressure mounting on the Yorkshire side.

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