Leeds turned back the clock on Friday night, playing some scintillating rugby that we haven’t seen from them in a fair while in their win over Warrington. They kept the ball alive, were expansive and it paid off.
At the heart of their performance was maverick hooker Matt Parcell, who has made quite the impression since joining in January. The former Brisbane and Manly number nine is currently the competition’s top tackler and has scored 13 tries for his side. However, it’s arguably his work in the build-up that has the biggest impact. His speed out of dummy half is probably the best in the league, while his decision making and game awareness make him a huge threat with ball-in-hand. His combination with McGuire, Moon and Burrow will be key if the Rhinos are to win the title.
Bank Holiday shocks…
This weekend saw Super League played on Spring Bank Holiday Monday for the first time ever and there were plenty of shocks.
Bottom of the table Widnes stunned high-flying Leeds with a 28-20 victory, while Salford and Wakefield triumphed over Warrington and Wigan respectively. Such results could set up for a very interesting end to the season, with the potential for Leeds, Wigan, St Helens and Warrington to all finish outside the top four for the first time ever. There’s even a chance that the Wolves could be fighting for Super League survival after 23 rounds. With the likes of Castleford, Salford and Wakefield all flying high this year, could we see a new Super League champion?
…but players need consultation
While the Bank Holiday fixtures brought plenty of excitement and quality, players themselves have criticised the RFL for scheduling them. Mark Minichello and Stevie Ward are among those who have condemned the decision, saying it doesn’t take player welfare into consideration.
This is the first year where a Super League season has seen two double-header weekends, with the Easter games seen as a challenging period on their own. Add in a second weekend of double-header fixtures and it really starts to take a toll on the players. While it’s great to see more games than we’re used to in a shorter period of time, players are exhausted and over-fatigued which lowers the quality of play altogether. There needs to be some sort of communication between players and the RFL in future to ensure players have enough time to recover between games.
Eden for England
Well, I’m finally jumping on the bandwagon in backing Greg Eden for England. The Castleford winger is in red hot form and simply can’t be ignored by Wayne Bennett.
Monday’s game against Leigh saw Eden score his fourth hat trick in as many games, taking his Super League tally to 25. While much of the work for his tries goes on in-field, he is still a sensational finisher, while his speed allows him to get on the outside of defenders to score. The combination he’s formed with England halfback Luke Gale also adds weight to his claim, while his time playing in the NRL prepares him well against Aussie/Kiwi opposition.
Summer Bash here to stay
The Championship took centre stage this weekend, as Blackpool hosted the third annual Summer Bash. Fans were treated to some sensational Rugby League, while every game was also shown live on Sky Sports, giving some much needed air time to our second tier competition.
The event as a whole was a resounding success, with a record crowd flocking to the north west as well as plenty of gripping action happening on the field. Toulouse vs Halifax and Hull KR vs Bradford were the two stand out games. The French outfit demonstrated to everyone why they are turning so many heads this season, while Bradford showed great spirit in light of their situation this year. The Summer Bash adds weight to the argument that the lower leagues need more coverage, as the talent and quality there deserves to be shown on a regular basis.