Back with a bang!
‘Relieved’ is the word used to describe the feeling of every Wigan fan right now. After a nightmare season, mainly due to their seemingly endless injury list, things are finally looking up with the club just 80 minutes away from a Wembley appearance.
They had six returnees on Saturday, including Sam Tomkins and John Bateman who delivered the crucial scores to take them through. Despite their lengthy absences, both players slotted back into the side effortlessly, as is the set up at the Warriors. With a much stronger side heading into the business end of the season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Wigan back in the top four soon and being serious Challenge Cup contenders.
While Warrington may have crashed out of the Challenge Cup in dramatic fashion, I’d like to give a special mention to Wolves back rower Andre Savelio. The 22-year-old has been out of favour at times this season but was one of the standout players on Saturday.
He’s played in just over half of his side’s games this year and was even shipped out to Rochdale on dual-registration. However, since coming back into the side his form has rocketed, while he even picked up a well-deserved try at the weekend. It bemuses me as to why he isn’t used more. He’s a great athlete, boasting plenty of size and strength alongside an impressive burst of pace, especially for a forward. I suppose it’s a case of not putting too much pressure on him at such a young age. Most forwards reach their peak in their late-20s, so it’s quite frightening to think that Savelio will only get better in years to come.
Super League becoming more attractive?
One thing Super League has struggled with in the past has been our ability to attract world class players. But that all seems to be changing. St Helens recently brought in 2012 Dally M Medalist Ben Barba, before New Zealand international Peta Hiku signed for Warrington on Monday.
While Super League may have been a last resort for Barba, Hiku is a major coup. The Kiwi three-quarter has played over 80 NRL games and has nine international caps, while he is still yet to reach his prime. At 24-years-old he has plenty more to give and could be the start of a major surge of world class players joining the English game.
Hull to retain the Cup?
When Hull were drawn against Cas in the Challenge Cup Quarter Final, no one gave the Black and Whites a chance. But after overcoming the in-form Tigers at the weekend, Lee Radford’s men are looking more and more likely to retain the trophy.
Their form has been a bit hit-and-miss all year, but after Sunday’s performance they look more than capable of beating Leeds in the semis. Albert Kelly is on fire at the minute and has formed a great partnership with makeshift half Jake Connor, while the likes of Jamie Shaul and Carlos Tuimavave are excellent support players. After last year’s success, things have gone slightly sour on the East coast, but a cup run could be the catalyst to Hull returning to their form of 2016.
Toulouse lose record
While all eyes were on the Challenge Cup over the weekend, there was a big shock in the Championship, as Toulouse lost their first game at home in two years. Olympique have made the Stade Ernest Argeles a fortress since their reintroduction to the English competition, but a sensational London Broncos performance on Saturday proved enough to break the duck.
The Broncos are looking like the dark horses going into the Super 8’s and are unbeaten in their last nine games, racking up at least 30 points in each match. Such a scoring record could well threaten some of the lower Super League teams, who could be in serious danger of dropping out of the top flight.