Super League Round Three: Five things we learned

Super League Round Three: Five things we learned Written by PHIL WILKINSON, February 29, 2016

HERE’S five things we learned from round three of the 2016 Super League season.

1. WILLIE Mason made a successful return to Super League after coming off the bench for Catalans in their 32-28 win against Leeds.

The normally sun-kissed Mediterranean town on Perpignan was hit by a rain-storm and TV pictures showed Mason – who had a six-game stint with Hull KR in 2011 – shivering on the sidelines. But it did little to dampen the mood as the Dragons – loaded with ex-NRL stars including Todd Carney and Glenn Stewart – notched their first win of the year.

Former Titans forward Dave Taylor (two) and Krisnan Inu were among those to cross the whitewash and, with both sides registering five tries apiece, Catalans were grateful to the perfect marksmanship of ex-Tigers winger Pat Richards. Meanwhile…

2. LEEDS’ defeat was their fourth in a row and the wounded champions sit at the bottom of the Super League table. They have injury issues but that doesn’t excuse the fact they have leaked a staggering 126 points in their last three outings, including last week’s World Club Challenge. “We’re having a tough period, a tough run at the moment,” lamented coach Brian McDermott. “We’re going through it but we’ve got to make sure that we keep working.” Few observers will be ringing the alarm bells – Leeds have previous for starting slow and finishing strongly, and their squad is loaded with talent.

3. WHEN Super League needed a game to help soothe its bruised reputation in wake of the World Club Series whitewash, Castleford and Hull FC produced the goods. A thrilling televised contest was in the balance until the end when Daryl Powell’s ‘classy Cas’ scored nine points in seven minutes – including Denny Solomona’s hat-trick try – to seal a gutsy win.

Australian winger Jy Hitchcox, playing part-time last year, scored two tries after getting an unexpected call-up when Joel Monaghan failed a fitness test. The result ended Hull FC’s winning run and served notice of the Tigers’ credentials – while also providing the competition with a much-needed tonic: The Super League may be a stride behind the NRL but it is hugely entertaining.

4. WHEN Wayne Bennett held his first media conference as England coach he made it clear he isn’t sure who the best candidate is to partner Gareth Widdop in the halves. Widnes’ Kevin Brown staked a claim with a masterful display in a 36-18 win at Huddersfield, which sent them top of the embryonic Super League ladder. Coach Denis Betts was later asked whether a change of England coach should prompt a re-think for the previously-overlooked Brown. “He’s international class,” said the GB legend.

Kevin Brown

5. BEN Currie. If you don’t know the name, remember it, because unless many people are very wrong the 21-year-old forward is destined for a bright future in the game. He scored two tries for Warrington in a 34-16 win against Wakefield, including a first-minute opener which exhibited his impressive pace. Chris Sandow also bagged two tries in a confident display. Halfback partner ex-Knight Kurt Gidley scored 14 points before leaving the action with a head knock.

Ben Currie

Bonus point: It seems not even the two-match ban to Mitch Garbutt for his punch on James Tamou in the WCC could deter St Helens playmaker Travis Burns and Hull KR prop James Green from exchanging blows. The punches were thrown in the 31st minute of Saints’ 31-22 win over the Rovers and referee Phil Bentham had no choice but to bin both players.

SUPER LEAGUE ROUND THREE RESULTS:

Catalans 32 (D.Taylor 2, R.Myler, K.Inu, T.Gigot tries; P.Richards 6 goals) beat Leeds 28 (K.Watkins 2, L.Sutclifffe, R.Hall, A.Handley tries; J.Lilley 4 goals).

St Helens 31 (S.McDonnell, T.Makinson, M.Dawson, J.Wilkin, A.Vea tries; L.Walsh 4, T.Makinson goals; L.Walsh fieldgoal) beat Hull KR 22 (B.Cockayne, A.Blair, J.Green, R.Shaw tries; R.Shaw 3 goals).

Warrington 34 (B.Currie 2, C.Sandow 2, K.Penny, K.Gidley tries; K.Gidley 5 goals) beat Wakefield 16 (C.Hall, A.Tupou, J.Molloy tries; L.Finn 2 goals).

Castleford 31 (D.Solomona 3, J.Hitchcox 2 tries; L.Gale 5 goals, fieldgoal) beat Hull FC 24 (J.Shaul 2, J.Thompson, S.Michaels tries; M.Sneyd 4 goals).

Wigan 20 (O.Gildart 2, A.Gelling, D.Manfredi tries; M.Smith 2 goals) beat Salford 16 (J.Sa’u, J.Griffin, B.Murdoch-Masila tries; G.O’Brien, J.Griffin goals).

Widnes 36 (S.Marsh 2, C.Thompson 2, C.Dean, C.Runciman, M.Leuluai tries; R.Hanbury 4 goals) beat Huddersfield 18 (M.Lawrence, L.Patrick, J.Foster tries; J.Foster 3 goals).

Standings after round 3: Widnes 6, Warrington 6, Wigan 6, Castleford 5, Hull FC 4, Salford 4, St Helens 4, Catalans 2, Wakefield 2, Hull KR 1, Huddersfield 0, Leeds 0.

(Widnes, Salford, Wakefield and Hull KR have played four).

Championship results: Bradford 32 drew with Leigh 32, Dewsbury 20 d Whitehaven 4, Featherstone 20 d Oldham 6, Batley 17 d Halifax 12, London 16 d Workington 13,

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