It was a mixed weekend for St Helens. A derby defeat to Wigan on Good Friday was followed up by an impressive win against table-toppers Castleford on Easter Monday. But arguably the club’s biggest success of the weekend was the emergence of winger Regan Grace, who grabbed a try in each game and really caught the eye.
Grace is one of a rare breed of players that have made their international debut before making their club one. He has featured regularly for Wales since 2015, playing a vital part in his country’s World Cup Qualifiers back in October, scoring a double in their 50-0 win over Serbia. And the 20-year-old’s performances will have undoubtedly put him in the frame for a place in John Kear’s World Cup squad.
What the Hull!
Despite getting back to winning ways on Easter Monday, Hull seem to have hit a rough patch, conceding over 100 points in consecutive games before their victory over Leigh. A 54-18 defeat to Salford was followed by a 52-24 thrashing at the hands of Leeds and while they still offer quite a potent attacking threat, it seems to be defence that’s letting them down. Interestingly, tackling machine Danny Houghton didn’t feature in either game.
On a different note, I attended the Leeds game and was quite bemused by the arrangement of the Rhinos’ supporters. Despite being put together in one corner, fans were separated into two groups, with some people even split from family and friends. This may have been influenced by the stadium’s football connections, but surely league fans shouldn’t be treated the same way, especially when supporting the same team. Take Magic Weekend, for example. Would that format work in football? I think not.
What’s next for Tomkins?
He came into 2017 as one of the stars to watch, but with 10 Super League rounds already played, Sam Tomkins is still yet to make an appearance. The Wigan fullback was due to come back this month from a broken ankle, but complications with his rehab mean he won’t be returning any time soon.
Questions have already started to emerge as to what his future holds at the club. Even the Warriors’ fans are starting to turn, with many in favour of offloading him to free up salary cap space. And with French stand-in Morgan Escaré in red hot form, it’s understandable to see why. An injured Tomkins is no use to Shaun Wane, so I really wouldn’t be surprised if he finds pastures new before the end of the season.
Clarity needed for refs?
On Friday, Kyle Amor received the season’s first red card which, if we’re being honest, wasn’t a sending off offence. Compare it to Ben Westwood’s sin-binning incident against Leeds, and you really start to question the integrity of our referees.
The seriousness of both incidents are reflected in the bans given, with Westwood missing four games, but Amor only set to be out for one. So why weren’t the appropriate actions dished out on the field? Both officials had a video ref at their disposal, so there’s really no excuse. I know they’re required to make split-second decisions, but referee’s need to start using their resources to the full.
Toulouse continuing to perform
Toulouse Olympique are continuing to be the Championship’s surprise package, and laid down a real marker with a shock win over Hull KR on Easter Monday. Rovers are the competition favourites, so a turning over by the side who were promoted from League One last year means the race for the top four is wide open.
While they may be the Championship newcomers, Sylvain Houles side are a formidable outfit, with plenty of quality. Fullback Mark Kheirallah and Papua New Guinea winger Kuni Minga are the team’s main point suppliers, while the likes of Rhys Curran, Clement Boyer and former Super League player Constantine Mika lay a great platform down the middle. The French outfit are definitely dark horses.