Set of Six: Josh Hodgson's red-hot form and coaches under pressure
By Julian Crabtree and Tony Tighe
Last Updated: 04/04/16 6:11pm
Josh Hodgson's hot streak continues with Canberra. Could he win the Dally M Medal? A bottle-throwing incident at Belmore and Chris Chester's impact at Wakefield also feature in this week's Set of Six...
Coaches feeling the pressure
There are tough times for Brian McDermott and Paul Anderson. Leeds won eight of their first nine Super League fixtures last year but have tasted victory just twice in 2016 and fell to a third successive defeat on Friday against Hull KR.
Last season's treble winners have been beset by injuries at the start of the 2016 season and are still without a training complex as a result of the Boxing Day floods in Kirkstall.
McDermott admitted those problems have hurt his team but remains confident a change of luck will allow the Rhinos to find some form.
The Rhinos are now 16/1 to win this year's Grand Final while the Giants are 100/1. Anderson's side were one game away from reaching Old Trafford last year but his focus has turned to avoiding a scrap for survival.
Both appear to have strong relationships with understanding bosses but the pressure increases with every defeat. Huddersfield travel to face a Hull FC side on a four-game winning streak on Friday, with Leeds visiting Salford the following day.
Hodgson's hot streak continues
Josh Hodgson is the early frontrunner for the Dally M Medal and he produced another impressive display for Canberra on Monday.
The former Hull KR and Hull FC man helped the Raiders to a 22-8 victory over Canterbury at Belmore, chipping in with a try assist.
Despite pressure from England team-mate James Graham, Hodgson dinked an inch-perfect kick through for Jack Wighton to score Canberra's second try.
Hodgson also made 47 tackles over the 80 minutes, second only to Shaun Fensom as the Green Machine closed the gap on leaders Brisbane and Melbourne to one point.
Laurie Daley was the last Canberra player to win the Dally M Medal in 1995. Could Hodgson make history?
Glass bottle thrown at Belmore
A week after the fracas that followed Salford's win at Huddersfield, Canberra's win over Canterbury was overshadowed by an ugly incident where a fan threw a glass bottle towards the Raiders bench, narrowly missing players and smashing on an exercise bike.
The glass bottle thrown is understood to be Wild Turkey Bourbon.
Security at Belmore were quick to identify the persons involved and they were removed from the stadium.
"They can't get glass into that place unless you've snuck it in," said Bulldogs chief executive Raelene Castle.
"I can only assume that person has snuck it in. We believe we know who the person is."
"The Bulldogs have dealt with it very professionally and very well," added Raiders coach Ricky Stuart.
"Canterbury is a great club and they jumped on it quickly and we don't want those unruly fans in our game."
Potential Grand Finalists?
Did we see this year's Grand Final teams in action at the DW Stadium last Friday? The bookies cannot look beyond Wigan and Warrington, who meet again on April 28 in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
They each play three games before renewing acquaintances and should both gain maximum points, it would appear as though there are only two semi-final spots left to fight for.
However, Warrington's hopes have taken a setback now Chris Sandow faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
The Australian half-back suffered a 'substantial' grade-two hamstring tear against Wigan, with Stefan Ratchford expected to switch for scrum-half for Friday's Sky Live clash with St Helens.
Wolves head coach Tony Smith said: "Chris is going to be out for a while and, although it's not a week-or-two injury, we won't know the length of time until he sees a leading expert in London (on Monday night) and finds out what his options are in terms of either repairing or rehabilitating it."
Coach of the Easter period
Chris Chester was out of work for only three weeks following his departure from Hull KR and his capture looks a great bit of business by Wakefield.
Having led the Wildcats to their first win at Headingley since 2007 on Easter Monday, Chester's men made it three wins on the bounce against Salford.
Chester is getting the best of his players, in particular youngsters Max Jowitt and Tom Johnstone, with the latter scoring a hat-trick against the Red Devils to take his try tally to five in three games.
Wakefield sit ninth in the Super League table after claiming their fourth victory of the campaign, level on eight points with Salford. They face a tough test against Wigan on Sunday but Chester believes they can maintain their excellent form.
"Winning becomes a habit and we have to continue the good work that we are doing out on the training field," he said.
"We have a lot of confidence at the moment and we are not afraid of anybody."
The Coal Train arrives
Man-mountain Dave Taylor's performance for Catalans against Widnes was something special.
The former NRL star scored one try and had a hand in a couple more as the Dragons continued their excellent run of form.
Taylor's 68th-minute try, when he scooped up a loose ball to score, was his fifth for Catalans since joining from Gold Coast Titans, but he boasts an impressive all-round game.
The 27-year-old Queenslander tops Catalans' offloading charts with 15, averages 8.52 metres per carry and over 19 tackles per game, and has also chipped in with three try assists.
After a sluggish start to the season, Catalans are on a four-game winning streak. They also looked to have solved the away form that dogged them last year, claiming three victories on the road in 2016.
Could this be the year of the Dragons? They face a testing trip to Hull KR on Thursday, live on Sky Sports.