Rugby League talking points: Albert Kelly is king of the Jungle as St Helens restore lead at top
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 17/06/19 12:44pm
Albert Kelly lands personal milestone, Leeds are brought back down to earth and more Broncos delight all feature in this week's rugby league talking points.
Kelly is King as Castleford crash
Albert Kelly was the game's major talking point during Round 18 as the stand-off starred in Hull FC's 31-18 win over Castleford Tigers at The Jungle on Thursday night.
In front of the Sky Sports cameras, Kelly put on a show as he claimed a first hat-trick in professional rugby league. The Australian half-back had already carved out Ratu Naulago's try in the first half when he took centre stage in his side's 27-point haul in the second period.
"I'm over the moon," Kelly said after his trio of tries. "I've never got one before, I've always fell short on the brace.
"I dedicate it to one of the aunties at home, she passed away. It's a sad time for the family. My first ever hat-trick and I'm stoked! I'm enjoying rocking up every day. I'm putting in the work and it's going well."
Kelly is in the form of his life; the Black and Whites' right edge with Naulago and Jake Connor is a match for any side in the division on its day, as an out-of-sorts Catalans could find out to their cost in Perpignan on Saturday.
Wigan end rocky week on a high
Wigan intensified Leeds' relegation fears by completing the double over their old foes at Headingley, ending a week overshadowed by another off-field misdemeanour in the best possible manner with a 23-14 win over the Rhinos.
Forward Taulima Tautai was convicted of drink-driving last week, with the club stating he will not be considered for selection until their own internal disciplinary process has concluded.
But Warriors head coach Adrian Lam admitted afterwards that the players he did have at his disposal produced the best rugby of their season so far as Leeds' two-game winning resurgence was brought to a halt.
Lam highlighted his team's smartness in managing the game in the final quarter, and Wigan kept their lead intact through rearguard defending as Brett Ferres was denied a late try that would have put Leeds ahead before clinical decision-making allowed Tony Clubb to put gloss on the final scoreline.
Giants need to flex muscle after Saints shellacking
"We just weren't good enough. It was men versus boys. It was not that much of a surprise. Comparing their line speed to ours is like chalk and cheese."
That was the withering assessment of St Helens' 38-2 dismantling of Huddersfield Giants from the Claret and Gold's head coach Simon Woolford.
His side were totally outplayed at the Totally Wicked Stadium, as Tommy Makinson marked his 200th Super League appearance with a hat-trick that restored Saints' six-point advantage at the summit.
Woolford handed U19 academy player Dominic Young a debut, but the Giants gave their opponents far too much respect through their brittle defence - despite managing to prevent further damage in the final 25 minutes.
After having their Challenge Cup hopes ended by Saints a month ago, Huddersfield responded with two wins to put them in contention for the play-offs.
But successive defeats as well as the resurgence of London Broncos threatens to suck them into a four-way relegation battle ahead of facing Wigan this Friday.
Broncos burned but Dragons feel the heat
After London's impressive 30-12 win in Perpignan against Catalans, Broncos coach Danny Ward praised his sunburned players.
A second straight victory moved his side level on points with Hull KR and Leeds at the bottom of Super League - and conditions had hardly played into their hands.
Ward said afterwards: "We had to deal with a bit of adversity today when Matty Gee pulled out. Literally, he came in following the warm-up and was no good so Matt Fleming got thrown in at the last minute and we had to play Ryan Morgan in the back row.
"And we've got a couple of lads out there suffering from sunburn after being in the pool yesterday. They were proper Brits abroad."
London are confounding the critics this season, and Jordan Abdull was instrumental in their sixth league win, scoring one try and having a hand in four others.
But while Catalans' side was sprinkled with the individual stardust of Tony Gigot and Sam Tomkins, it is the collective strength among the London players which allowed them to pull away during an emphatic second-half showing.
Ward added: "The boys worked pretty hard for each other. They've got a good bond and they had that must-win mentality today and they went out there and just worked their socks off for each other.
"We're not the flashest team on paper and we might not be spending as much as other teams but we've got a good attitude and they're working hard."
Lui helps Salford end Wakefield recovery
Niall Evalds stole the headlines as his hat-trick inspired Salford to a thumping 44-20 win over Wakefield on Sunday - but Robert Lui played an equally important role in deciding the game.
It was his long pass after just five minutes that allowed Jake Bibby to break the deadlock, and after Trinity had rallied, it was the half-back's gorgeous 'sliced' kick off the side of his boot that enabled Evalds to open his account.
It is easy to see why Hull KR are considering a third attempt to sign Lui having pursued the player for the past 20 months, and Lui and Evalds combined to allow Bibby to score his second.
Chris Chester would have been encouraged by his side's start to the second half as Ben Jones-Bishop reduced the deficit but it was Lui's successful chase down to score that allowed the Red Devils to regain the ascendancy.
After big wins for London at Catalans and Hull KR over Warrington, this was a vital win for Salford to avoid getting embroiled in the battle at the bottom. Lui's try and four assists ensured a four-point gap remains.