Hull KR edge past Leigh in thriller at the Village

Hull KR had the luck of the devil in a close fought win over Leigh Centurions today, with the referee AND video referee missing what looked like a knock on* in the build up to their match winning try by Captain Shaun Lunt.

In an edgy encounter, it was the home side who struck first, Daniel Mortimer finding his way through a dogged Rovers defence, Josh Drinkwater adding the extras, before Rovers hit back on the half hour mark, Lunt scoring the first of his pair, converted by Jamie Ellis.

The home side went into the break with a two point lead, thanks to a penalty for holding down, which Drinkwater dispatched.

If the first half had been about flowing and attacking rugby, with defences winning the key battles, then the second half was to follow a similar pattern.

It was to be nearly 10 minutes in to the second half before either side would trouble the scoreboard again, Drinkwater slipping over a penalty after Rovers Lee Jewitt decided to mess about at the play of the ball.

As we approached the hour mark, Rovers drew level, after Ryan Shaw had his effort set upstairs to video referee James Child. Ellis accurate adding the extras and the visitors were in front, 10-12.

Ellis added a penalty to extend the Robins lead, before the home side struck back with a try from Atilia Vea, and a Drinkwater conversion that went in off the upright, saw Leigh hit the front again.

With just five minutes left on the clock came the moment that, as Leigh head coach Neil Jukes put it, could cost someone their job, as Rovers appeared to knock on at the play of the ball, only for Lunt to squeeze over for his second of the game.

Again, it was sent to the video referee, who somehow missed the knock on by Nick Scruton and went with the on field decision of try and Rovers winning score, 16-20 when the final whistle went.

Leigh coach Neil Jukes:

Hull KR coach Tim Sheens:

 

Leigh (8) 16
Tries: Mortimer, Vea Goals: Drinkwater 4
Hull KR (6) 20
Tries: Lunt 2, Shaw Goals: Ellis 4

Leigh: McNally; Dawson, Fleming, Langi, Higson; Mortimer, Drinkwater; Hansen, Higham, Maria, Vea, Paterson, Burr.

Replacements: Hood, Richards, Tickle, Stewart.

Hull KR: Moss; Carney, Blair, Hefernan, Shaw; Marsh, Ellis; Scruton, Lawler, Jewitt, Addy, Clarkson, Kavanagh.

Replacements: Lunt, Greenwood, Atkin, Masoe.

Referee: Jack Smith

*The video referee is not allowed to look at the play of the ball when a decision is referred to him. Thank you Rod Studd for letting me know. 

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Salford stutter in the rain as Castleford shine in 4-23 win

 

Nice for the ducks

For the opening 40 minutes, Castleford were playing up to their “Classy Cas” tag, albeit aided by some odd refereeing decisions from the man in the middle, Chris Kendall.

He managed to send two tries upstairs to the video referee, both of which his on field decision was overturned, he gave a knock on against the home side when there hadn’t been one, and generally looked out of his depth on a wet night on the banks of the ship canal.

Honestly, I don’t like to have a go at the man with the toughest job in the sport, but Chris Kendall was so far out of his depth tonight in the first half, it was a wonder he wasn’t replaced during the break.

As it was, two first half tries from Zak Hardaker, both converted by Luke Gale were the difference by half time, but a half where Salford had a one try wiped out for a forward pass (it wasn’t) and one for obstruction (it was) it was to be one of those evenings at the AJ Bell where the referee took centre stage, certainly in the first half, rather than the players the fans actually pay to see.

Hardaker, if not already a shoe in for the England full back spot, certainly put head coach Wayne Bennett on alert with his performance in the rain tonight.

Salford home debutant Manu Vatuvei scored a try that was sent up to the video referee as a try, and was rewarded for his effort when it was given. That was early in the second half and about the only bright spot for the home side, who saw Tyrone McCarthy pull up during the warm up to be replaced by Craig Kopczak.

Then, on the hour mark, McShane went over, another Gale conversion and Cas were home, and if not dry, at least hosed.

They weren’t finished though.

With just over 15 left, they went over again, This time Hardaker turned provider with a looping pass out wide for Jy Hitchcox to score, when he could have easily gone over for what would have been a deserved hatrick of scores.

As it was, Cas were too good for anyone tonight, and a late drop goal by Luke Gale to extend the lead just put into perspective just how good this Yorkshire club have been this season.

Can they win the Grand Final?

Possibly, but it will depend on their opponents.

They deserve the league leaders shield, Salford however, need to take a look at themselves in the mirror before next week.

They just ween’t at the races tonight.

Perhaps Michael Dobson and Lama Tasi are bigger players for the team on the pitch than I previously thought, but there was a lack of leadership on the field that would worry me if I were a Salford fan.

Ian Watson did say post match that Junior Sa’u and Michael Dobson could have started tonight, but with some tough games coming up, starting with a trip to Wigan next week, He’ll want to make certain any players coming back are fully fit.

Perhaps the target of making the top 8 being achieved, a few players took their eye off the ball, and were mentally ready for the off season. Knowing Ian Watson, I cant imagine him letting up on the players one bit, but whatever the problem, at this rate, Salford will be well out of the race to Old Trafford by the time they next appear at home in early September.

 

 

TEAMS

Salford: Niall Evalds, Greg Johnson, Jake Bibby, Josh Jones, Manu Vatuvei, Rob Lui, Todd Carney, Adam Walne, Logan Tomkins, Weller Hauraki, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Ryan Lannon, Craig Kopczak, George Griffin, Kriss Brining, Olsi Krasniqi, Daniel Murray.

Castleford: Zak Hardaker, Joel Monaghan, Jake Webster, Greg Minikin, Jy Hitchcox, Ben Roberts, Luke Gale, Grant Millington, Paul McShane, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Oliver Holmes, Michael McMeeking, Nathan Massey, Adam Milner, Gadwin Springer, Matt Cook, Alex Foster.

 

Two game weekend should test the old mental capabilities.

This weekend, Andrewrileysportsjournalist hits up two very different games of rugby league. Here, he previews both games.

Well, it’s been a while since I felt well enough to not only attend back to back games, but to preview them AND match report both will be a stiff test of how my mental health is coping. Let’s start with the previews though. The simple bit.

First up on Friday night is Salford Devils and Castleford Tigers in the “Super 8’s” at the AJ Bell stadium.

Super League Super 5's
Super League Super 8’s

The last time the Tigers visited the home of the Devils, it was a tight, cagey affair, with Salford coming from behind to win the game 13-12, with Gareth O’Brien kicking the all important one pointer to seal a win that would be the first of five in a row for the Devils.

That run set Salford up for their best finish in a regular season since 1980.

Ian Watson has named a very strong side for Friday night.

Kris Brining is back after a spell on the sidelines, and Ryan Lannon also returns for a game that could have a very big say in the Devils charge for a Grand Final spot.

Michael Dobson is still not 100% after the knock he picked up in the Challenge cup game against Wigan, and Josh Wood and Kris Welham also miss out.

Salford fans will be pleased to see Tyrone McCarthy and Manu Vatuvei both take the field at home for the first time.

Jake Bibby, Kriss Brining, Todd Carney, Niall Evalds, George Griffin, Weller Hauraki, Greg Johnson, Josh Jones, Graig Kopczak, Olsi Krasniqi, Ryan Lannon, Robert Lui, Tyrone McCarthy, Daniel Murray, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Gareth O’Brien, Logan Tomkins, Adam Walne, Manu Vatuvei.

Tigers coach Daryl Powell has also named his 19 man squad

Matt Cook, Alex Foster, Luke Gale, Zak Hardaker, Jy Hitchcox, Oliver Holmes, Tom Holmes,   Nathan Massey, Mike McMeeken, Paul McShane, Grant Millington,  Adam Milner, Greg Minikin, Joel Monaghan, Ben Roberts, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Michael Shenton, Gadwin Springer,       Jake Webster.

Prediction? The Tigers are licking their wounds after losing to St. Helens at home last week, and will want to wrap up the league leaders shield sooner rather than later. My bet is Castleford by 8 to 12 points, but Salford will be looking to halt a slump.

Super 8's The Qualifiers
Super 8’s The Qualifiers

Slightly further down the league, Leigh Centurions take on Hull Kingston Rovers in the “Qualifiers”, with one team looking to retain top flight status whilst the other looks to return to where it, and it’s fans, feel it belongs.

Both sides got off to winning ways in round one, Leigh away at Featherstone Rovers in front of the Sky cameras, and Hull at home to Halifax, who surprised some by beating the Robins in the final round of the regular season.

Head coaches Tim Sheens and Neil Jukes will be looking for more of the same commitment from their respective charges in front of the Sky Cameras at Leigh Sports Village on Saturday afternoon.

Both coaches announced their squads for the afternoon kick off on Sky Sports.

Leigh Centurions (from) 1 Mitch Brown, 29 Lachlan Burr, 5 Matty Dawson, 7 Josh Drinkwater, 31 Matty Fleming, 13 Harrison Hansen, 9 Micky Higham (Captain), 21 Liam Hood, 23 Sam Hopkins, 34 Samisoni Langi, 18 Gregg McNally, 16 Antoni Maria, 33 Daniel Mortimer, 11 Cory Paterson, 20 Ben Reynolds, 35 Greg Richards, 12 Glenn Stewart, 15 Danny Tickle, 17 Atelea Vea.

Hull Kingston Rovers (from) 3 Thomas Minns, 5 Ryan Shaw, 7 Jamie Ellis, 8 Nick Scruton, 9 Shaun Lunt, 10 Chris Clarkson, 11 Maurice Blair, 12 James Greenwood, 13 Danny Addy, 19 George Lawler, 20 Matty Marsh, 21 Robbie Mulhern, 22 Andrew Heffernan, 32 Kieren Moss, 33 Ben Kavanagh, 36 Justin Carney, 37 Lee Jewitt, 38 Chris Atkin, 39 Mose Masoe.

When the two clubs met in the Qualifiers last season, Leigh took a giant step towards automatic promotion, coming from behind to beat the then Super League side on their own patch, 18-25.

Tries from Hopkins, Dixon, Dawson and Drinkwater sealing the win, with Ridyard not only kicking four from four, but also adding a drop goal for good measure.

This season however, the teams met in the earlier rounds of the Challenge Cup, Rovers this time running out 10-23 winners at Leigh sports village.

Can lightning strike twice?

The best way to find out is to actually be there, and the ticket office at Leigh will be open until 8pm tonight (Thursday) and you can also buy online.

If you cant be there, then the game is live on Sky sports Main Event.

Super 8’s and Qualifiers fixtures released

It’s that time of the season again, the Super 8’s and Qualifiers are here to brighten up the end of the season chase for silverware.

The Super 8s fixtures for 2017 have now been released.

The Kingstone Press Championship Shield fixtures have been delayed due to operational issues. Round 1 fixtures will now be announced on Thursday July 27 and the remaining fixtures by Monday July 31 at the latest, with rumours swirling on social media it is because the RFL had already set out the schedule to include Toulouse in the Qualifiers, and the shock defeat of Hull KR by Halifax throwing a spanner in the works.

In the Betfred Super League Super 8s, Castleford Tigers currently sit ten points clear at the top of the table and need just three victories to secure the League Leaders’ shield, something of an oddity, given that we are now playing a different competition in all but name.

Should the League leaders shield be awarded after 23 rounds?

I think so…

Three teams that played in the 2016 Qualifiers, Leeds Rhinos, Huddersfield Giants and Salford Red Devils all make the top eight and with only six points difference between eighth place and third place, it’s all to play for as the countdown to the Betfred Super League Grand Final on Saturday, October 7 at Old Trafford begins.

In The Qualifiers Super 8s, last year’s Grand Finalists Warrington Wolves will battle to retain their Super League status alongside Catalans Dragons, Widnes Vikings and Leigh Centurions, as Hull Kingston Rovers, London Broncos, Halifax RLFC and Featherstone Rovers will be hoping to gain promotion.

Super League Super 5's
Super League Super 8’s

Betfred Super League Super 8s – Round by Round

Round Date Home Away KO Time (Local Time)
1 Thursday, August 3 Castleford Tigers St Helens 8.00pm Sky Sports
1 Friday, August 4 Huddersfield Giants Wakefield Trinity 8.00pm
1 Friday, August 4 Hull FC Salford Red Devils 8.00pm
1 Friday, August 4 Leeds Rhinos Wigan Warriors 8.00pm Sky Sports
2 Thursday, August 10 Wakefield Trinity Leeds Rhinos 8.00pm Sky Sports
2 Friday, August 11 Salford Red Devils Castleford Tigers 8.00pm Sky Sports
2 Friday, August 11 St Helens Hull FC 8.00pm
2 Friday, August 11 Wigan Warriors Huddersfield Giants 8.00pm
3 Thursday, August 17 Castleford Tigers Wakefield Trinity 8.00pm Sky Sports
3 Friday, August 18 Hull FC Huddersfield Giants 8.00pm
3 Friday, August 18 Leeds Rhinos St Helens 8.00pm Sky Sports
3 Friday, August 18 Wigan Warriors Salford Red Devils 8.00pm
4 Thursday, August 31 Leeds Rhinos Hull FC 8.00pm Sky Sports
4 Friday, September 1 Huddersfield Giants Castleford Tigers 8.00pm
4 Friday, September 1 Salford Red Devils Wakefield Trinity 8.00pm
4 Friday, September 1 St Helens Wigan Warriors 8.00pm Sky Sports
5 Friday, September 8 Castleford Tigers Leeds Rhinos 8.00pm
5 Friday, September 8 Hull FC Wigan Warriors 8.00pm
5 Saturday, September 9 Salford Red Devils Huddersfield Giants 1.30pm
5 Saturday, September 9 Wakefield Trinity St Helens 7.00pm
6 Thursday, September 14 Hull FC Wakefield Trinity 8.00pm
6 Friday, September 15 Leeds Rhinos Salford Red Devils 8.00pm
6 Friday, September 15 St Helens Huddersfield Giants 8.00pm
6 Sunday, September 17 Wigan Warriors Castleford Tigers 3.00pm
7 Friday, September 22 Castleford Tigers Hull FC 8.00pm
7 Friday, September 22 Huddersfield Giants Leeds Rhinos 8.00pm
7 Saturday, September 23 Salford Red Devils St Helens 3.00pm
7 Saturday, September 23 Wakefield Trinity Wigan Warriors 7.00pm

Below the Super 8’s, we have The Qualifiers, and the race to stake a place at the sports top table for 2018 and avoid the drop to the Championship will make for some of the hottest competition on any screen this year.

There are some big names down here, with Warrington Wolves, Catalans Dragons, Widnes Vikings all hoping to avoid the dreaded “Million Pound Game” whilst Hull Kingston Rovers and London Broncos want to cement their place back in Super League.

Super 8's The Qualifiers
Super 8’s The Qualifiers

The Qualifiers Super 8s – Round by Round

Round Date Home Away KO Time (Local Time)
1 Friday, August 4 Widnes Vikings Warrington Wolves 8.00pm
1 Saturday, August 5 Catalans Dragons London Broncos 6.15pm Sky Sports
1 Saturday, August 5 Featherstone Rovers Leigh Centurions 3.15pm Sky Sports
1 Sunday, August 6 Hull KR Halifax RLFC 3.00pm
2 Saturday, August 12 Leigh Centurions Hull KR 3.15pm Sky Sports
2 Saturday, August 12 Warrington Wolves Catalans Dragons 3.00pm
2 Sunday, August 13 Halifax RLFC Widnes Vikings 3.00pm
2 Sunday, August 13 London Broncos Featherstone Rovers 3.00pm
3 Saturday, August 19 Catalans Dragons Leigh Centurions 6.15pm Sky Sports
3 Saturday, August 19 Warrington Wolves Halifax RLFC 3.15pm Sky Sports
3 Sunday, August 20 Hull KR London Broncos 3.00pm
3 Sunday, August 20 Widnes Vikings Featherstone Rovers 3.00pm
4 Saturday, September 2 London Broncos Warrington Wolves 8.00pm Sky Sports
4 Sunday, September 3 Featherstone Rovers Hull KR 3.00pm
4 Sunday, September 3 Halifax RLFC Catalans Dragons 3.00pm
4 Sunday, September 3 Leigh Centurions Widnes Vikings 3.00pm
5 Saturday, September 9 Catalans Dragons Featherstone Rovers 6.15pm Sky Sports
5 Saturday, September 9 Warrington Wolves Leigh Centurions 3.00pm
5 Sunday, September 10 Hull KR Widnes Vikings 3.00pm
5 Sunday, September 10 London Broncos Halifax RLFC 3.00pm
6 Friday, September 15 Leigh Centurions Halifax RLFC 8.00pm
6 Sunday, September 17 Featherstone Rovers Warrington Wolves 3.00pm
6 Sunday, September 17 Hull KR Catalans Dragons 3.00pm
6 Sunday, September 17 Widnes Vikings London Broncos 3.00pm
7 Friday, September 22 London Broncos Leigh Centurions 8.00pm
7 Saturday, September 23 Catalans Dragons Widnes Vikings 6.15pm Sky Sports
7 Saturday, September 23 Warrington Wolves Hull KR 3.00pm
7 Sunday, September 24 Halifax RLFC Featherstone Rovers 3.00pm

 

* Games to be shown live on Sky Sports for rounds 5,6 and 7 are still to be selected.

 

On official abuse

 

I wrote in Forty-20 magazine earlier in the year about why I was falling out of love with the sport, but since then, things have gotten worse.

The moron (let’s not beat about the bush here) who tossed a pint pot at James Child and was subsequently banned from Salford was the last straw. It rightly ignited a discussion about the amount of abuse match officials put up with.

I don’t want to have to spend my evening dodging idiots who’ve had too many lager tops.

When Salford were protesting about the possible name change, post-match, I witnessed one idiot who was rolling about legless, shouting for Marwan Koukash to come outside and physically fight him about it!

And my wife wonders why I don’t want to take my son to evening games.

Match officials have a very difficult job, but it’s not helped when they also make such elementary errors as I saw last night on TV.

When Salford were penalised for a high shot, which clearly it wasn’t, it was the home fans screaming in the ear of the touch judge that flapped, and gave the penalty.

I doubt very much that one decision changed the game, but when the massed ranks of the Sky Sports team also felt it was the wrong decision, then we know that there is a problem.

Castleford were easily the better team, but the match officials must accept that they are also not infallible.

They do make errors, but never do we, as paying fans, ever find out what steps are taken when an official messes up.

A couple of weeks ago, Gareth Hewer was having a blinder of a game (Catalan v Leigh) until he missed a push on a Catalan player and a foot in touch in the same move to allow Leigh to score.

Now, this is a referee who was considered good enough to get the Challenge Cup final whistle no so long ago.

Yes, fans and the media need to lay off match officials, but surely it is beholden to the RFL and the match officials head, Steve Ganson, to explain to fans and the media when one of his team messes up, what steps are taken to try and make certain the problem is dealt with?

Or is he so wrapped up in himself that he feels he and his charges are above any criticism?

I don’t believe that the RFL are corrupt, but I do think that match officials are inherently biased against certain teams, all be it unintentionally.

Is there a solution?

Possibly.

It wouldn’t stop the problem, but perhaps if we had former players in the booth assisting the referee, we might not have as many problems.

We don’t need a giant screen at every game, but as Sky are there filming it anyway, why not have a former player with the camera crew watching and linked to the man in the middle?

 

 

Florida diary

What is it about the British and complaining?

I’ve just flown to Sanford Orlando and a lady on the bus to the plane (parked away from the terminal due to building work) was moaning that there were too many people on the bus hadn’t paid for “Premium “economy, then the plane was too far away for her liking, when we arrived at the plane, she complained it was too hot to be sat on the bus, despite the plane not being ready yet.

All the while, her daughter was taking up two seats on the bus with her case, whilst an elderly gentleman was standing, stoically looking after his wife who was sat down.

As soon as she could, she forced her way off the rear of the bus, and STILL managed to be complaining as we boarded.

Really?

You live in a world where you can fly 5000 miles, the plane is going nowhere until we’re all sat down, belted up and the captain is happy.

As it was, we took off 50 minutes later than scheduled, but so what?

I was more worried that the two cats I was being paid to get to Florida were onboard and happy than if the air conditioning on the transit bus was cold enough.

If that’s not enough, she moaned that last year, due to a change of plane, they only got £90 compensation, even if they did get the bigger plane back to the UK.

We complain about almost everything these days.

Why?

Is your life really that bad that people who didn’t pay an extra £251 are not welcome on a bus to the plane?

Or that standing on that bus for 8 minutes while the ground crew go over everything once more, just to be safe, is such a chore?

Oh well, just over an hour into the eight-hour flight, and I’m happily watching a movie and drinking a Brewdog punk IPA while waiting for lunch.

This Dreamliner is a lovely roomy bit of kit. First time on one, and hopefully not the last.

Well, Thomson, your lunch was lovely.

Seriously, I really enjoyed that roast chicken dinner. In the 2.5 hours since we took off, I’ve watched “The last king of Scotland “and am thinking about either “Four Lions” or “Inside Man” as a follow up.

Feel a bit wary about someone looking over my shoulder, spotting a movie about Jihadi ½ wits and us getting redirected to somewhere without an extradition treaty!

Sod it, Four Lions…

Anyway, after three days of what my kidneys seem to think is an excess of alcohol, my host & I drove the 200+ miles from Fort Lauderdale to Key West.

En route, he had to pop in and collect a few bits from his work in Parmetto Bay, and did that put the difference between those who have and hand not into stark relief.

As we pulled off the Florida turnpike into Miami, there was a bloke sleeping under a bridge, and as we got to the mall area, there were people begging along the road, yet less than a mile later, we were passing gated communities with private security and bronze lions guarding entrances.

As a human being, it was sad to see.

Once we’d made it to the end of the USA, it was well into triple figures heat wise, and after a good few hours walking and melting we fell into a bar called Viva for lunch.

A burger that was one of the better I tasted over the last ten days.

The rest of the break was spent either helping Lee set up his new home, or drinking, eating or walking about Middle River terrace soaking up the atmosphere.

Right up the street is the area of Wilton Manors. It’s predominantly a gay area, and boy, is it proud to be.

There are certain areas I was advised not to linger in, notably Sistrunk and anywhere straddling the I-95 highway, but given I was not driving, there was very little chance of me straying too far off the beaten track.

On the occasions I did wander about, I found the whole city to be lovely though.

Like all of the tourist coast, Fort Lauderdale has its plusses and minuses, but for me, the fact that it’s central allows you to visit Orlando, Miami, the Keys and the rest of the state with relative ease.

Like all of America, distance is the killer, so it’s better to have two of you driving, that way you can share the load, especially in the heat.

Next time, I’m going to be going with Mrs R, and I’ll probably stay in the Northern Lauderdale area as it’ a little cheaper on the old wallet, hotel wise.

That and I don’t want to overstay my welcome at Chez Massey…

Flying back, I was greeted with the news that those on the flight out 2 weeks prior had been delayed by close to 48 hours, and our return was delayed due to what was described by a Tui staff member as a “bird strike”.

She was assuring passengers that they would be on a 787-9 dreamliner, as they had been messed about earlier, only for us all to get to check in to be told that our plane had been downgraded to the smaller 787-8

This did not go down well.

Now, I didn’t get the email from Tui that those on holiday with the firm had been sent telling them of a two-hour delay, perhaps because flight only passengers are not considered to be worth the effort, but either way, once onboard, we were told by the flight crew the delay was due to congestion at Manchester airport earlier in the day and not a broken window…

The general feeling was that we would rather have been told the truth, rather than fed a lie.

It did seem very convenient that the staff member had a photo of the bird strike on her mobile phone though.

The staff on the flight were the sullenest bunch I’ve ever flown with, and to have the UK mumbling champion onboard to practice using the tannoy didn’t help matters.

The meal was nowhere near as good as the one on the flight out. Some chicken in a mustard sauce concoction and very dry bread roll.

Awful does not do the description justice.

Next time, I’ll probably fly with another airline and pay a little more, and certainly won’t fly in or out of Sanford.

It may have its tag line of “Safer, Faster, Better.” But it’s a dilapidated old airport, miles away from anywhere.

If, like me, you are hoping to travel to see sport, particurlaly rugby league, then its much better to arrive at Orlando international, Miami or Lauderdale itself and make life easier, travel wise.

Tui as a company need to work on its customer interaction.

I did approach Tui for a response, but sadly, they don’t really care about how they treat passengers.