Five things we learned from this week #17

RL what we learned

Origin rocks!

What a game State of Origin I was! It’s long been said that the three-game series is the absolute pinnacle of our sport and Wednesday’s game didn’t disappoint. New South Wales took the spoils in a match full of big hits, quality tries and plenty of passion.

The stats after the game show how good it was. For example, it took 20 minutes for the game’s first break in play. To put that into perspective, the men’s 5000m Olympic final was run in around 13 minutes, and that’s without the non-stop physical contact. From start to finish it was packed with rugby league of the highest quality, with some of our greatest athletes pulling off some superhuman efforts. As an advert for the game, you’re not going to beat State of Origin. It’s without doubt the absolute pinnacle of our sport.

Wolfpack going down a storm

While Toronto stormed away to yet another victory on Saturday night what was more important, perhaps, was how much the Canadian people seem to be embracing the sport.

Just under 7000 people flocked to the Lamport Stadium, with the majority donning Wolfpack shirts or scarves. They aren’t just passive supporters either. The excitement when there’s a big hit or when Toronto make a break is clear to see around the ground. One of the standout images was Coventry prop Dan Gover being given a beer after the game by the Toronto fans, before chants of “chug, chug, chug” echoed from around him. Not only do the Canadians love the Wolfpack, they love the sport altogether, which is a massive step forward for expansion.

Young Tigers have heart

Wasn’t it great to see Castleford’s under-strength team come away with a win against a fresh St Helens side. I think it’s safe to say it was one of those games where rugby league was the ultimate winner.

With much controversy surrounding the hectic schedule of late, Daryl Powell chose to make a bold statement, dropping some key players and naming a weaker squad. Despite this the Tigers, including two ‘cubs’ on debut, managed to come away with a hard-fought win over the Saints, who’s top four hopes are decreasing week-by-week. They are still seven points away from fourth with seven games to go and with their form not improving, it may be time to call it a day and focus on next season.

Playoff race hotting up

Who would have thought at the start of the season that come June, Castleford, Salford and Wakefield would be top four favourites? I certainly didn’t.

Cas defied the odds to win at the weekend, while Trinity stormed to a seventh successive victory, beating the Red Devils. It’s great to see some of the typically ‘smaller’ clubs fighting at the top of the table, especially for the likes of Wakefield, who have endured all sorts of trauma in recent years. They’ve had numerous financial scares and nearly went bust altogether at one point. For the fans especially, having the club financially stable and actually competing in Super League is something to enjoy after years of uncertainty.

Smith out?

Pressure is increasing on Warrington coach Tony Smith, after his side slumped to a third consecutive hammering.

The Wolves have conceded 122 points in their last three and were subject to a 44-4 defeat to ninth-place Huddersfield on Sunday. It’s a far cry from where fans were hoping they’d be, as any hopes of winning the title have been replaced with hopes that they’ll actually keep their place in Super League. Things aren’t improving at the Halliwell Jones and changes are needed, with fresh ideas and tactics being at the forefront. Smith’s a great coach, but it might be time for him to go.