Five things we learned from this week #3

Leigh Centurions v Catalans Dragons

Leigh are off the mark

It’s the third week in a row now that I’ve written about the Centurions, and it’s simply because you can’t ignore them. After being trounced by Castleford in their first game, they pushed Leeds close last week before going on to claim their first Super League win since 2005 against St Helens on Friday.

And it was a convincing one as well, with the home side scoring some well-worked tries. Captain Mickey Higham’s return was crucial, with the veteran hooker grabbing a try while also taking over as the side’s leader, putting in a real solid shift. Leigh fans will be hoping for more of the same when they come up against champions Wigan on Friday night.

Yet another Rugby League farce

Well didn’t Wigan mess us all about on Friday night! Firstly, they announced on Thursday evening that their match against Widnes the following night was to be postponed due to their pitch being in an unfit state to play on, especially as Wigan Athletic also had a vital game on the Saturday. They then announced that the fixture would actually be played, but at Widnes’ Select Security Stadium.

Luckily for most Wigan supporters, Widnes are only about 30 minutes down the road but it has still logistically messed with the plans of many fans. Some, for example, had booked holidays that would clash with the Widnes away game in the summer so it wouldn’t affect the use of their season tickets, however this plan has now been ruined.

The sport wouldn’t have a leg to stand on without the fans, so they can’t continue to be disregarded by the powers that be when decisions like this are made. How is our sport meant to grow its fan-base when our own fans are ignored and not respected?

Hardaker back to his best?

The season is only two rounds in, but already Castleford new boy Zak Hardaker seems to have been given a new lease of life after a nightmare campaign last year. The former Man of Steel was battling off-field demons, which were significantly affecting his performances for then-reigning champions Leeds, resulting in him upping sticks and moving to Australia to play for Penrith.

And after a successful stint there he’s now back in Super League and is set to play a big part in a Castleford side that see themselves as serious contenders this season. And why shouldn’t they? They have significant quality in their side, while their expansive style of play can cause problems for any side on their day. After a Man of the Match performance against Warrington on Friday, Hardaker looks comfortable and seems to be enjoying his Rugby again, which can only be a good thing.

Siddal push the Wolfpack close

With no Super League on Saturday, the Challenge Cup took precedence, with all eyes on the Toronto Wolfpack as they played in their first ever competitive game against NCL side Siddal. And while Toronto came away with an expected win, most people were more impressed with the amateur side’s performance.

They were resilient in defence, making it really difficult for the Wolfpack stars to break through and even led the game for a period in the second half. The exposure given to amateur clubs in the Challenge Cup this year has been superb, reminding us all where the game started and how important grassroots Rugby League is for the sport. Hats off to the RFL and BBC!

Fryston let themselves down

The RFL have another investigation on their hands, and again for all the wrong reasons. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of biff and passion in the sport, but this was taken too far when amateur side Fryston hosted Keighley at the weekend. The game erupted into a mass brawl, leaving Cougars player Emmerson Whittel with a broken jaw and snapped tooth, while teammate Josh Lynam had his ear bitten.

In a weekend where the amateur game was given its chance to shine, Fryston have let themselves and amateur Rugby League as a whole down, giving many ‘League outsiders’ a bad impression of our grassroots game. The RFL need to crack down and make an example out of Fryston.