So, Super League Round 3 has come to a close. We now know a little more about rugby league’s 2021 chapter and the story’s set to unfold over the course of this season. With that in mind let’s look at the five major talking points from this weekend’s Super League action.
1. The fullback battle goes on
On Thursday night, Sky Sports conducted a poll prior to Leeds v Wigan to find out who should be England’s fullback come the World Cup. Wigan’s Zak Hardaker won the poll before the match and proceeded to remind everyone of his credentials in the game that followed with a game-breaking performance and a superb solo try. However, he wasn’t to be out done by former Wigan man Sam Tomkins. The Catalans fullback has been brilliant this season and was again as the Dragons ploughed through Salford. Let’s not forget the likes of Niall Evalds and Jake Connor who are also challenging for the number 1 shirt. Who’ll be the stand out fullback next week?
2. Video ref controversy
In Friday’s live game there were plenty of talking points. Ben Crooks scored Super League’s fastest try of all time as he capitalised on disarray in the Huddersfield ranks to score after just 7 seconds. However, that was upstaged by what many believed were some strange video referee decisions. Hull KR had a try disallowed when it was deemed Lee Gaskell was taken out by the slightest of touches. Then Huddersfield had a try given despite what some felt was a clear-cut knock on. Now both decisions were probably right in the letter of the law but it leaves question marks over whether the law is correct. It was Hull KR’s disallowed try that particularly rattled me – it should’ve been given in my opinion.
3. Worrying signs at the bottom of the league
It may be early in the season, but it’s time for some clubs to start sweating. After a brilliant opening night showing, Leigh looked a long way off reaching that level again as they conceded 50 at Cas this week. But at least they can score points. Salford have scored just three in three games to start the season leaving Salford fans worried over their huge bottom of the table clash next week against the Centurions. Will they be able to offer enough in attack to win? The pair aren’t alone at the bottom. Wakefield also remain on zero points following defeat to St Helens and even Huddersfield are still winless in the league as questions begin to be asked about Ian Watson’s side.
4. Fit and in-form halfbacks the key
Thursday night’s game highlighted the difference between Wigan – a team with a 100% record – and Leeds – a side with just one win from their opening three. It’s all about fit and in form halves. Leeds battled hard against the Warriors and could’ve won. However, the brilliance of Jackson Hastings undid them in the key moments taking Wigan to victory. Leeds only had one fit and available half in the shape of the debuting Kyle Eastmond and lacked the tools to score points against a stern Wigan defence. Leeds need to change that in order to compete and need Eastmond to settle quickly. When you consider the top performing teams they all have in-form halves whilst those near the bottom have struggling halfbacks whether it’s Aidan Sezer who didn’t look at his best for Huddersfield on Friday following injury or the combination of Kevin Brown and Tui Lolohea at Salford which hasn’t yet clicked.
5. First draw in three years
Today saw the first draw in Super League since 2018 and the introduction of golden point. Since then we’ve had a few amazing instalments of extra time such as Brad Dwyer’s surprise drop goal against Castleford in 2019. However, it often leaves teams unrewarded for their valiant efforts. Take Hull KR’s brilliant comeback against Catalans. They were able to come back from 28-4 down to end the game on terms only to have any reward snatched away from them. Today however two sides did share the points as neither Hull nor Warrington were able to nail a decisive drop goal. This again points to just how competitive Super League could be this year with a number of teams vying for the places at the top.