With one of the closest leagues we’ve seen in recent years, and with an unprecedented amount of injuries for some teams, individual performances can make or break a team’s season at this stage. This article looks at those individuals who made a significant contribution to their side in round 22.
Hull KR are one of the teams whose injury record has been almost hard to believe. Therefore, it has been even more important that the experienced players left in the squad step up to the challenge. In their hard fought come-back win over Toulouse on Thursday night, Ethan Ryan certainly did that. He scored a vital try as part of the come back, and made a game saving tackle to stop Toulouse on the break. His performance was slightly overshadowed by the sensational Shaun Kenny-Dowall, but he also played a huge role in a significant win.
With an astonishing 13 first team players were missing for Catalans’ visit to Wakefield on Sunday, and there was a lot of talk about a potential consecutive win for Wakefield. The visitors were able to get past the potential stumbling block, however, thanks to efforts like Tom Davies’. He seemed to constantly be involved in the game, making a staggering 23 carries and 147 metres. In a tired and deflated team after last week’s loss to Leeds, someone taking that many carries was a huge boost and contributed to Catalans getting through the game.
Although he was unable to inspire Salford to a win on a frustrating afternoon against Leeds, Sio also put in a huge effort for his side. The try scoring machine showed he was more than just that, as he made 154 metres and four tackle breaks, which is particularly significant given the lightweight pack that Salford have. He did of course score to keep himself in contention for top try scorer come the end of the season, and although it was not their day on Sunday, performances like that from Sio will be key for Salford’s play-off hopes.
Huddersfield maintained their 3rd place status on Friday with a come-back win over Hull FC. Their victory was inspired by some skill by the likes of Will Pryce and Tui Lolohea, but Josh Jones did the hard work to give them the field position. The back rower made a huge nine tackle busts in typical fashion as he was too strong and evasive for Hull’s defence. He managed three offloads to further trouble the opposition tacklers, and was part of an impressive second half effort from the Giants.
St Helens ended up actually conceding more tries than Castleford in what looked to be a routine victory after 50 minutes, but were able to prevent being beaten for a second week running. The damage was done in the first half by Saints, and it was through their force in the middle that they were able to establish their 12-0 lead at half time. Walmsley was at the helm of this approach, as throughout the game he made 144 metres as well as six tackle busts to give quick play the balls and allow Saints to dominate the field position. When he’s fully fit, there doesn’t seem to be a defence that can handle Walmsley, and it showed on Sunday.