Rugby League talking points: Broncos guts, Hull in freefall and Richard Agar future
By Sky Sports Rugby League
Last Updated: 09/09/19 1:00pm
London Broncos' dramatic effort, Hull's terrible form, Brian McDermott blasting Leigh and Richard Agar's future feature in this week's talking points...
Broncos take it to the final round
At Hull KR on Friday evening in front of the Sky Sports cameras, London were two minutes away from relegation back down to the Championship...and then Jay Pitts popped up with a dramatic try.
It secured victory and, with it, survival for another week to the final round of regular-season games.
When the Broncos earned promotion against the odds away in Toronto last October, they were tipped by some to lose every game; by all to go straight back down.
They have defied the odds with their performances and victories this season. They still sit bottom of the table, but are level on 20 points with Hull KR, Huddersfield and Wakefield - and they play the latter away on Friday, live on Sky Sports Arena.
Can the Broncos go the whole way and secure Super League status for another season? Friday is sure to be a captivating night.
Black and Whites in freefall
In Thursday night's live Sky Sports game, Hull FC were destroyed at Castleford as the Tigers' supreme young talent Jake Trueman scored a hat-trick.
With that defeat, Hull slipped out of the top five and play-off positions after a sixth loss in succession in all competitions - Castleford moving above them into fifth.
Since suffering Challenge Cup semi-final defeat away to Warrington in July, Hull have looked a different team, and most concerning for Lee Radford will be the manner of Thursday's defeat.
We have seen it from Hull all too often in recent seasons, but when they are off-key, they not only lose, they get battered.
Hull host League Leaders' Shield winners St Helens on Friday, but know a play-off place is no longer in their hands. Either way, they look a long, long way off Grand Final contenders at present.
Wolves there; Salford on the brink
Also this week, Warrington booked their play-off slot with a home win over Wakefield, while Salford are all but there too after a noteworthy win at Leeds - their seventh straight victory.
The Red Devils ended a decade-long losing streak at Headingley thanks to tries from Niall Evalds, Jake Bibby and Joey Lussick. Four goals kicked by Krisnan Inu were enough to hold off a fast-finishing Rhinos side and help Salford notch an important result.
Steve Price's Wolves ended their six-match losing streak in Super League thanks to tries from Daryl Clark, Bryson Goodwin, Ben Currie and Josh Charnley, while Stefan Ratchford kicked three goals and Dec Patton added a drop goal.
Both Warrington and Salford are on 32 points in the league table in third (Warrington) and fourth (Salford), with Wigan sat on 34 in second place.
Neither the Wolves nor Red Devils have ever lifted Super League's greatest prize before, but both have enjoyed stellar campaigns and will be dreaming of a date at Old Trafford come October.
McDermott blasts 'vicious' Leigh
Down in the Championship, Toronto finished their regular season with a 21st consecutive victory, beating Leigh Centurions 46-12 in Canada.
After finishing with 52 points - 12 more than second-placed Toulouse - the Wolfpack now enter into the play-offs for a Super League place as overwhelming favourites.
After Saturday's victory, however, coach Brian McDermott was keener to talk about Leigh, and his feeling they targeted his squad with intent to injure.
"I'm having blokes with nearly-broken jaws and blokes being taken off the ball and people getting hit late and people grabbing at other men's testicles and people gouging throughout the whole game," he said.
"We're all up for a tough game. More credit to our guys for finding their way to deal with it offensively.
"I don't like bullies and I don't like hypocrites. And I don't have much good to say about how Leigh played today."
Explosive stuff...Leigh are yet to respond in any form.
Agar signs on permanently with the Rhinos
Fast forwarding to Monday morning, Leeds Rhinos confirmed that interim head coach Richard Agar had signed a permanent contract with the club.
The deal sees Agar named as Leeds head coach for the 2020 season on a rolling 12-month contract, after spending four months as interim boss.
Agar has been in temporary charge since Dave Furner was sacked in May, after Leeds lost 10 of their first 14 Super League games.
The former France head coach has since guided Leeds to seven wins from their subsequent 14 league games and the Rhinos are set to finish eighth in the table.
Agar, who was a studio guest with Sky Sports on Thursday night, confirmed to Brian Carney that talks with the Rhinos were advanced at that stage, and his future has now been confirmed.
"This is an outstanding club, both on and off the field, and it is our responsibility over the coming years to once again challenge for honours over a sustained period," Agar said.