After another scintillating and enticing round of Super League, we look at the five biggest talking points following this weekend’s action as we learn more about Super League XXVI.
1. Early challengers emerging
I think we all expected St Helens to be one of the front runners this season as they go in search of a historic three-peat. However, question marks remained over who would be their biggest challengers. On Thursday night, last year’s runners-up Wigan gave St Helens a gentle nudge with a comprehensive 34-6 win over Wakefield to remind their rivals of their credentials. Friday saw Castleford make it two from two with a professional performance against a Leeds side who, despite some injuries, also looked good. However, it was the Tigers who won staying on par with last year’s top two. Catalans also joined the 100% club and did so with a less than perfect performance – a good sign. However, the weekend’s best performers were Hull FC. They were clinical, potent and professional in victory against Salford. They could be the biggest threat to St Helens.
2. English fullbacks the key performers this week
Last week I talked about how we were spoilt for choice when it came to English wingers. Well, this week was the week of English fullbacks as many claimed the man of the match and even more turned in eye-catching performances. Zak Hardaker was again quality for Wigan before Jack Welsby claimed the man of the match for St Helens. Then on Saturday both Sam Tomkins and Jake Connor were class in victory. Tomkins looks like Catalans’ best and most important player once again this year and will be eyeing up the fullback spot at the World Cup. However, early form might suggest that Connor should be the man at the back for England. He was again quality as Hull defeated Salford. He’s also a good shout for Man of Steel.
3. Injuries plaguing the league
Last week according to Sky Sports 25% of players were missing due to injury which is more than one would expect. Well, I fancy that percentage to have increased this week. Wigan were again without their first-choice wingers on Thursday night before Hull KR lost Korbin Sims. Leeds are perhaps the biggest sufferers. They went into their game against Castleford with a makeshift backline having added Richie Myler to a growing casualty list. Then on Saturday there was cause for concern for both Salford and Hull as the two clubs lost a pair of vital players. Salford’s Elijah Taylor and Dan Sarginson were unable to finish the game whilst Hull’s superb halfback pairing of Josh Reynolds and Marc Sneyd limped off. The amount of injuries in the league is a growing concern.
4. Is the one-one-one strip making the game look ugly?
Following the prevalence of strips in Round 1, Round 2 saw them feature even more. However, it has led some to believe they make the game look ugly as tackles devolve into tussles for possession. It’s also been argued that players are less likely to look for the offload as the cling to the ball.
5. Rugby league the biggest family of them all
However, the biggest story coming out of Round 2 is and should be Mose Masoe. The former St Helens and Hull KR prop has shown amazing character over the last 12 months and this round was all about him and his family. Already we’ve seen the rugby league community come together for Rob Burrow and this weekend saw it come together for Mose. Every game was a testament to his character and a superb amount of money was raised for his family. And it’s set to increase as a number of clubs auction off match worn items including John Bateman’s boots and Sam Tomkins’s shirt.