It has been a great start to the season for the Tigers despite a growing injury list. Star signing Danny Richardson has formed an exciting half-back partnership with Jake Trueman, while Paul McShane’s excellent form has earned him an England call-up. With only one solitary defeat away to Catalans, impressive wins against Toronto, Wigan, Castleford and Hull KR sees Daryl Powell’s side sit second after the first month of the season.
A strange first month to the season for the Dragons with only three games played and the controversy surrounding Israel Folau overshadowing events on the pitch. The season started with a poor performance at home to Huddersfield, but a fine display against Castleford and a James Maloney-inspired comeback at Hull FC has people tipping Steve McNamara’s men as dark horses for silverware. There is definitely more to come from this star-studded Catalans outfit.
Few people could have predicted the Giants’ early-season form after only avoiding relegation on the final day of last season. The signing of Aidan Sezer has brought a new lease of life to the club having kicked off the season with three consecutive wins against Catalans, Salford and Hull KR. A reality check at home to Wigan may have put a slight dampener on spirits at the John Smith’s Stadium, but Simon Woolford has to be pleased with their start to the campaign.
An array of signings, a big win at Leeds and a Hull derby victory understandably had FC supporters raving about their team just a few weeks ago. However, three defeats on the bounce has left them questioning whether this will be another season of inconsistency. There are some positives for the Airlie Birds, including the form of Josh Griffin and Manu Ma’u’s potential going forward. But Lee Radford’s side face heavy criticism if they don’t find some form soon, with expectation higher than ever on the black and white side of Hull.
Things haven’t gone too much better in East Hull. Much like their city rivals, Rovers peaked on the opening weekend of the season with a resounding win over Wakefield. From here it has been clear to see why they were the bookies favourites for the drop prior to the season, losing every game. Since a valiant effort in the Hull derby, Tony Smith’s side have shipped 102 points in the last three games, scoring just 22, while losing a number of key players to injury. With Wigan, Warrington and St Helens all to come in March, you have to fear for the Robins.
Perhaps benefitting from a week off in round two, Leeds have responded superbly since losing heavily on the opening weekend to Hull FC. After thrashing Hull KR and picking up a gritty win at Salford, Richard Agar’s side shocked everyone with a 36-0 thumping of Challenge Cup holders Warrington last week. New signing Luke Gale has provided some much-needed structure to a youthful and energetic team, with the Rhinos likely to be playoff contenders again in 2020.
Salford Red Devils
Last year’s grand finalists Salford have endured a tough start to the campaign. A huge turnover in players was always going to make life difficult and this was evident when St Helens put them to the sword in round one. A hard-thought win over Toronto was needed in round two, but narrow defeats to West Yorkshire trio Huddersfield, Leeds and Wakefield has the Red Devils looking more down than up. The loss of Jackson Hastings is all too evident and Ian Watson may have to prepare his players for a relegation battle.
Saints fans will be feeling okay about life under Kristian Woolf. It’s clear from the first month that they still possess all the same devastating attributes that have been showcased under Justin Holbrook over the last two years. Despite this, alarm bells may have been ringing when Warrington dispatched them 19-0 in round two, and the World Club Challenge loss to the Roosters will have hurt. Big wins over Salford, Hull FC and Toronto has Saints amongst the leading pack though, and they are only going to get better as the season progresses.
The phrase ‘baptism of fire’ comes to mind when describing Toronto’s first few weeks in the top flight. Salary cap and squad depth issues leaves the Wolfpack still hunting for their first Super League win after five games. Although competitive for the most part, it’s obvious Brian McDermott’s side are lacking in a number of key areas and this was highlighted in the 32-0 defeat to St Helens. Rooted to the bottom and still six weeks out from their first game in Canada, things could soon get desperate for the Wolfpack.
Chris Chester is likely to be relatively pleased with his team’s start given their injury problems. A round one nightmare saw Trinity lose playmaker Danny Brough long-term in a heavy loss at relegation favourites Hull KR. Since then they have picked up two wins from three games, with defeat at Castleford sandwiched between impressive victories over Warrington and Salford. Wakefield should have enough quality to avoid a repeat of last year’s relegation worries.
It has been a real mixed bag for the Wolves so far this season. Superb in nilling St Helens, resilient in edging out Toronto and valiant in defeat at Wigan, on these showings the Wire faithful would have been content. It’s on their two trips to West Yorkshire that have highlighted some real worries for Steve Price, losing 18-8 at an injury-hit Wakefield before an embarrassing 36-0 defeat to Leeds. Gareth Widdop has yet to settle and long-term injury to impressive recruit Matty Ashton could be damaging. Is it their year? Not so far!
Four wins from five and top of Super League, happy days for Wigan! Steady week-by-week improvements has Warriors fans excited about what lies ahead this season, with Bevan French excelling and star recruit Jackson Hastings starting to move through the gears. Made to work for victory against 12-man Warrington, Adrian Lam’s side were poor in defeat at Castleford in round two and questions were asked. Three convincing wins later and it’s clear to see why Wigan are many people’s tip to go all the way in 2020.