Hull FC 21-12 Warrington Wolves
Coming off the back of three consecutive defeats, Hull FC put in a dogged performance in arctic temperatures to defeat a Warrington side looking to follow on from the previous weekend’s defeat of Wigan. In a game which did exceptionally well not to succumb to postponement from the wrath of the ‘beast from the east’, the Earlie Birds looked dominant for the majority of the contest, with the Wolves sparking hopes of a revival during a 20 minute period towards the end in which both Dec Patton and Liam Watts found themselves red-carded. Ultimately though, the home side had enough quality to hold out and secure the victory, with Marc Sneyd adding 13 points with the boot.
Hull coach Lee Radford was pleased with the manner in which his side accumulated their 18-0 lead, but was obviously very disappointed with how they dealt with it by allowing Warrington back into the game, and also branded Liam Watts head butt which saw him sent from the field a ‘pathetic effort from which he deserves to miss a lot of games’.
Steve Price meanwhile was impressed with how his side responded after being reduced to 12 men, but acknowledged that this attitude is required from the opening whistle whilst bemoaning his side’s indiscipline which left his team playing catch up from the start. He also praised the travelling support who made the arduous journey over the Pennines despite closures to the M62.
Wigan Warriors 32-16 Widnes Vikings
Friday’s encounter between Wigan and Widnes lived up to the old cliché of ‘a game of two halves’, with the visitors 16-4 half time lead being eclipsed by a dominant Warriors, who ran in five second half tries to secure a 32-16 victory.
The Vikings started the game the brightest, with Matt Whitley and Stefan Marsh crossing the whitewash and Tom Gilmore notching 8 points from the kicking tee, however this was as good as it got for the travelling support, with their side failing to register a point in the second half. Joe Burgess added a try just before the end of the first half, giving his side a platform to build on, which is exactly what they did, with Ryan Sutton, Tommy Leuluai, Liam Farrell and Tom Davies adding tries either side of a superb solo effort by Sam Tomkins.
It was a disappointing effort from a Vikings outfit looking to kick on after last week’s defeat of the Leeds Rhinos, with head coach Dennis Betts stating his side were ‘bullied and battered in the second half’. As for Shaun Wane, he praised his side’s composure and ruthlessness in the second half which allowed them to run away with the result.
Wakefield Trinity 22-4 Huddersfield Giants
In one of two rearranged fixtures for Sunday afternoon, Wakefield continued their perfect start to the season by recording a 22-4 victory over Huddersfield. Even without the inclusion of star-man Tom Johnstone, Trinity were able to outscore their opponents by four tries to one, and seal their fourth consecutive win, condemning the Giants to only one win this campaign.
A scrappy first half saw a well-worked move by Scott Grix put Ben Jones-Bishop over in the corner before the visitors hit back through Lee Gaskell. The second half was all Trinity, with a clever kick to the corner by Liam Finn being pounced upon by Jones-Bishop for his second, and the game being made safe by Mason Caton-Brown capitalising on a Huddersfield knock on by racing onto a kick downfield on the free-play to score.
Chris Chester was rightly proud of his squads start to the season, which saw them secure the victory in their first four league games for the first time since 1945, adding ‘we spoke about starting strong in pre-season and we’ve done that’, whilst Rick Stone rued his sides calamitous start to the second half, in which they conceded seven straight penalties and gave away the advantage after a fairly even opening 40 minutes.
St Helens 34-2 Salford Red Devils
Another team with an undefeated start to the season is St Helens, who impressed again to defeat the Salford Red Devils 34-2. The Saints looked threatening in attack and solid in defence, preventing the visitors from crossing the whitewash and being led around the field by the spectacular Ben Barba, who scored two and had a hand in two others.
Salford took the lead midway through the first half through a Gareth O’Brien penalty goal, but were unable to hold out the Saints for long, with Tommy Makinson touching down a Barba grubber before the mercurial fullback created a try out of nothing in the opposite corner. The home side ramped up the pressure in the second half, helped by the sin-binning of former Saint Lama Tasi, with Barba again jinking his way over the line followed by tries from Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Jonny Lomax. The icing on the cake was added after the hooter with possibly the try of the round with Luke Thompson finishing a slick running play on his 100th Saints appearance.
Despite the emphatic scoreline against them, the Red Devils competed well for 70 minutes and were unlucky to concede such a heavy defeat, with Ian Watson adding ‘In the first half we were really good and in the second half we gave them too much ball and too many penalties’. Saints boss Justin Holbrook meanwhile believed his side claimed ‘a good win despite a scratchy performance’, singling out Ben Barba for praise following his terrific performance in the victory.
By Nathan Okell