Five things we learned from this week #27

Wakefield shock Leeds

No one was expecting the result that came on Thursday night, but it just goes to show what Wakefield are capable of. They downed Leeds 38-6 and while it may not have been the Rhinos’ best performance, you can’t take away from the effort Trinity put in.

John Kear and Chris Chester have transformed their team over the past year from a side fighting for survival to dark horses for the title. They currently sit in fourth, one point in front of St Helens in fifth, and so are well in contention for the playoffs. I was particularly impressed with Kyle Wood who, ironically, almost signed for Leeds at the start of the season. The former Huddersfield halfback-turned-hooker ran the show from dummy half, with his assist for Scott Grix’ try being a particular highlight. Him and fellow pivot Jacob Miller will be very important for Trinity over the next five games.

Hardaker continues to stake England claim

I don’t think there’s much doubt in anyone’s mind that Zak Hardaker should be England’s no.1 at the World Cup. He’s impressed all season at Castleford and was in fine form once again on Friday, scoring two tries in their win over Salford.

There were questions over his England spot after Sam Tomkins hit the ground running on his return from injury, but his consistency and combination with Luke Gale are sure to secure his place. Gale is another Tiger guaranteed a role in Wayne Bennett’s squad, while I’m backing Paul McShane to be in the mix as well. He was included in the train-on squad in May and is arguably the best English hooker in the world right now, so definitely deserves his chance.

Castleford Leeds combined team

KR get their foot in the Super League door

Saturday saw the Qualifiers’ first giant killing, with last year’s Million Pound Game victims Hull KR getting one over on Leigh, the team that replaced them in Super League this season. Rovers are the favourites to challenge for promotion and will be in confident mood on the back of their performance at the weekend.

It was quite apt that Shaun Lunt was the man to lead KR to victory, with the former Grand Final winner’s 74th minute try snatching the win. He’s a Super League standard player and will be a key part of Tim Sheens’ push for promotion in the coming weeks. As for Leigh, I think they’ll struggle to stay up. They’re destined for the Million Pound Game and a repeat of Saturday’s performance could be the final nail in the coffin.

Patton deserves a shot

Declan Patton should be Warrington’s new number seven next season. With Kurt Gidley retiring, Tony Smith is on the hunt for his replacement, however, the perfect candidate could be right under his nose already.

Patton played a starring role in his side’s 52-24 demolition of Catalans, scoring a try and kicking eight goals. The 22-year-old has a very mature style and basically sums up the old cliché ‘an old head on young shoulders’, with his game awareness matching even the most experienced of players. The Wolves have been rumoured with the likes of Cooper Cronk and Trent Hodkinson but Patton just fits the bill for me. If he’s trusted to step up and become a leader, I expect he’ll turn out similar to how George Williams did when he was in the same position a couple of years ago.

Wolfpack tamed again

Just two weeks after their first ever league loss, Toronto were again shocked on Sunday, drawing 32-32 with Keighley. It was the heroics of Cougars scrum-half Matty Beharrell that nicked his side a point, with his last-minute penalty goal being the difference.

It seems like the Canadian side have hit a rough patch – which no one really expected. With the quality and depth they have they should really be performing consistently every week, especially against part-time teams. Maybe it’s complacency. I mean, they’ve rarely been strenuously tested this season, so you can’t really blame players for taking their foot,off the gas. If they want to compete in the Championship next year, though, this is something they need to sort out. A drop in form will cost them much more in a higher division and could dent their hopes of a quick jump into Super League.

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