Five things we learned from this week #7

Castleford Hull combined team

Salford’s triple threat

Salford cruised to victory against Widnes on Friday, coming away from the Select Security stadium as 46-10 winners. And while it was a great team performance from the Devils, much of their performance can be put down to their newly-found three-way halfback partnership.

Many wondered where Todd Carney would fit in at the AJ Bell after the announcement of his signing in January, with Salford already having a settled combination in Rob Lui and Michael Dobson. So far, he’s been used as an impact sub, and Salford are reaping the rewards. They finished Friday’s game with all three halves on the pitch and caused all sorts of problems for the Widnes defence. The Devils are looking like the dark horses of the competition and will only improve if Lui, Dobson and Carney continue to perform.

Kelly on fire!

One thing Hull struggled with last season was finding an appropriate halfback partner for Marc Sneyd. They tried Carlos Tuimavave but found he was more effective in the centres, while Leon Pryce wasn’t one of the first-choice starters for Lee Radford. However, it’s looking like the Airlie Birds may have made one of the signings of the season in Albert Kelly.

He was yet again pivotal in their win against Wigan on Friday, scoring his seventh try in four games in the process. Many questioned the signing, as he came with a history of off-field discretions that Hull fans maybe felt could have hindered their side’s performance. However, the former Gold Coast and Cronulla half has settled in well at the KCOM stadium and, after a string of quality performances, is already putting himself in the frame as a Man of Steel contender.

James who?

With the whole James Segeyaro saga finally done and dusted, Rhinos fans can swiftly erase his presence from their memories and focus on new hooker Matt Parcell, who is in scintillating form at the moment. After a shaky start all round at Headingley, Leeds have started to hit the straps, with the former Manly and Brisbane man leading from the front.

The 24-year-old was brought in for his elusive running game and smart vision with the ball, which is certainly paying dividends for the Rhinos, who are now unbeaten in their last three. On a personal note for Parcell, he’s scored in each one of those games, whilst also being influential in a number of his side’s other tries. The number nine spot has been a problem position for Leeds over the past couple of years, but Parcell seems to be the man to end their troubles.

Toulouse are serious contenders

Toulouse claimed arguably their biggest scalp of the season so far on Sunday, beating fellow top four contenders Featherstone. The French side ran out 34-26 victors, a result that surprised fans across the competition.

Many wondered how Toulouse would fare in the Championship, having dominated League 1 last year to gain promotion. And while they’ve suffered losses to Sheffield and Bradford so far, their impressive performances have seen them overcome the likes of Batley, Halifax and more recently the Rovers. They currently sit second in the table and with the likes of Mark Kheirallah and Kuni Minga in free-scoring form, it doesn’t seem like they’re going to let up anytime soon.

Widnes on the lookout for a half-back

Reports surfaced over the past few days that Widnes had failed in a bid to bring Rangi Chase to the club, which confirms that Denis Betts is in the market for a new half. They were dealt a blow in pre-season when captain Kevin Brown moved to Warrington, shortly before first choice halves pairing Joe Mellor and Tom Gilmore picked up injuries that they are yet to recover from.

A mixture of Chris Bridge, Danny Craven, Aaron Heremaia and Jordan Johnstone have been used to deputise, but have nowhere near the same effect, meaning the Vikings sit in 11th without a win in their last six. Betts is limited in his options as to who to bring in, with most teams having settled on their halves by now. Personally, I think Dec Patton from Warrington could be a handy pickup on loan. He’s a young player with experience at the top level and is itching for game time with Brown and Gidley in front of him at the Wolves.