Super League recap: Storm crowned world champions, Huddersfield stay perfect
Last Updated: February 26, 2013 2:25pm
The World Club Challenge took centre stage over the weekend with champions Leeds Rhinos taking on the Melbourne Storm in a classic encounter at Headingley.
In domestic action, Huddersfield maintained their perfect start to the new season while Warrington Wolves, Wigan Warriors and St Helens all won.
Catalan Dragons were held by the Castleford Tigers on Sunday before Salford City Reds bagged their first win of the campaign after staging a remarkable comeback against Hull KR.
There was a full house at Headingley on Friday as Leeds attempted to secure back-to-back World Club Challenge titles. Fans turned out in their numbers to ensure a sell-out affair. The atmosphere was intense and it came as little surprise as Super League bosses attempt to have the competition expanded in order to capitalise on the popularity of the concept.
The Storm moved into an 8-0 lead, Billy Slater scoring and Cameron Smith converting and adding a penalty. Ryan Hall pushed his credentials on the world stage by pulling a try back before scores from the impressive Jesse Bromwich and debutant Tohu Harris gave the visitors a 10-point lead. Jamie Jones-Buchanan was on the end of a lovely flowing move from Leeds to reduce the arrears, but the Storm's defence held out as the NRL champions claimed a deserved victory.
After slowly coming out of the blocks at the start of the new season, Saints finally got into their try-scoring stride on Saturday afternoon with a rout of the Bulls. Jonny Lomax proved more than an adequate stand-in for the injured Paul Wellens at full-back, running in a hat-trick of tries to make sure there would be no repeat of the 12-8 defeat they suffered in the fixture last season. That result led to the end of the Royce Simmons reign at Langtree Park, and there may well have been question marks over another Australian coach, Nathan Brown, if they had been beaten again at Odsal. The former Huddersfield boss responded to the 17-17 draw against Hull last time out by dropping Lee Gaskell and Tom Makinson, putting Jon Wilkin in the half-back roles and shifting Lomax to full-back. Don't you just love it when a plan comes together, Nathan?
Saints led 26-0 by half time against a rather toothless Bulls side that barely threatened their opponents until 30 minutes into the match. Brett Kearney did continue his fine scoring form with a try early in the second half, but they came up well short to suffer their first home defeat of the campaign.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again. That was the case for Warrington at the KC Stadium as they showed patience is a virtue they possess, something that shouldn't be too surprising from a club that went 35 years without a trophy. For an hour Hull held firm against the baying Wolves, some stoic defence seeing the Airlie Birds cling on to a 6-4 lead. Then, though, the visitors ran in four tries in the space of 12 minutes, breaking the back of the home side's resistance and making sure of the two points.
'The Prolific Joel Monaghan' (that should now be his full name) grabbed two more to add to his personal tally, ruining Richard Horne's 350th game for the Black and Whites in the process. Danny Houghton (39 tackles) led an impressive Hull effort in defence, but Peter Gentle's troops were unable to back up an away draw at St Helens with a win in front of their own fans.
Melbourne: secured the World Club Challenge on Friday night with an 18-14 victory over the Leeds Rhinos
Wigan put in a professional display on Sunday, ensuring there would be no upset against the pointless Broncos. The Warriors were the heavy favourites for the win although Tony Rea's Londoners put up a brave and spirited display at the home of last season's League Leaders' Shield winners.
Ian Thornley scored Wigan's first and last try of the match while the 2012 top try scorer Josh Charnley also helped himself to a brace at the DW Stadium. Former Wigan man Liam Colbon scored against his former club with Kieran Dixon and Chad Randall cross for the the Broncos' two other tries.
On-loan Gareth O'Brien was the hero as Ian Millward's men claimed a late draw against the Dragons at the Wish Communications Stadium. The French side thought they had claimed the victory courtesy of Thomas Bosc's late drop-goal, but Warrington player O'Brien - who made his Cas debut in the loss at Bradford in round three had other ideas to ensure the points were shared.
The sides could not be separated with ten minutes remaining with Castleford scoring tries through Jordan Thompson, Michael Shenton and Kirk Dixon while Vincent Duport, Louis Anderson and Damien Blanch all touched down for the French club. Although the Tigers have been toothless on the road they are looking strong at home in the wake of this draw, having already toppled Leeds.
From now on teams will be looking at the fixture lists in years to come and hoping they do not have to play Huddersfield in the opening months of the season. The Giants have started well in the past two campaigns and 2013 is no exception. Having already beaten St Helens and Wigan, Paul Anderson's men can now add the in-form Wildcats to their list of victories.
Wakefield entered the game with the wind in their sails and they came to within a whisker of ending Hudderfield's 100 per cent start to the campaign. Richard Agar's men are made of stern stuff these days and they nearly snatched a last-gasp victory only for Lee Smith's try to be denied. A Jermaine McGillvary hat-trick put Huddersfield in control and although Smith and Ben Cockayne pulled tries back, their comeback bid fell just short.
It looked like being a familiar, and depressing, story for the City Reds when they trailed the Robins 34-14 just 10 minutes into the second half. A fourth straight defeat looked a certainty as Michael Dobson led Rovers into a commanding position, scoring two tries himself and also kicking five goals. Yet Salford showed there is plenty of fighting spirit amongst their squad with a tremendous comeback, four converted tries without reply making sure they finally got off the mark in 2013.
The drama continued right through until the end, with Hull KR's Adam Walker and Lee Jewitt of Salford sent off in the closing stages for fighting. The hosts were helped by debuts for former Great Britain centre Martin Gleeson and Darrell Griffin, a loan signing from Leeds. It's unlikely they are the last new faces to arrive at Salford under the reign of Dr Marwan Koukash, though perhaps attempting to sign Sam Tomkins from Wigan is a case of targeting the stars before you've actually reached the sky.