Across the six Super League games this round there were plenty of standout individual performances, particularly given that three teams surpassed the forty point mark in Wigan Warriors, Catalans Dragons and Wakefield Trinity.
The points flowed in those three weekend games compared to the tighter and closer affairs on Thursday and Friday that saw Huddersfield Giants edge out Hull FC whose city rivals Hull KR put Castleford to the sword, and the standout game saw an intense clash between St Helens and Leeds Rhinos.
Saints overcame Leeds in a game that looked for long periods to be heading towards a possible drop goal winner, as the two previous meetings this season did, but Jack Welsby’s late try secured victory.
As mentioned Wigan ran in forty against Leigh before Catalans did the same against Salford but without reply, all before Sunday’s game at Belle Vue that saw Wakefield defeat Warrington 42-6 which led to the dismissal of head coach Daryl Powell.
Some brilliant games and some special performances but which players make the Team of the Week?
Full-back – Jack Welsby
There’s only one man for this role and it’s ‘Super Jack’ with his two tries proving crucial in an injury hit Saints team defeating the Rhinos. His second try in particular was a thing of beauty, leaving commentator Phil Clarke to declare the 22-year-old the “best player in Super League”.
Wingers: Innes Senior and Abbas Miski
Who else but Senior and Miski? There was plenty of great wing play and acrobatic finishes elsewhere but scoring four on your return to Belle Vue, and three in a third versus second clash respectively means there was no other players to consider. It’s also worth noting that Miski’s two intercept tries were great defensive reads whilst the other highlighted why he’s one of the best finishers in Super League.
Centres: Tom Opacic and Will Hopoate
Tom Opacic got on the score sheet for the second consecutive Super League game with his smart finish in the corner displaying his developing attacking intent. As for Will Hopoate he also touched down from a Welsby grubber kick and he put in what many Saints fans described as a ‘Rolls Royce’ performance.
Halves: Luke Gale and Bevan French
The two string pullers for the two most impressive wins at the weekend make the Team of the Week with French bagging a brace with his try just before the half time hooter blowing the game wide open. As for Gale he just looked a cut above for Wakefield, orchestrating the play and looking like he’d rolled back the years.
Props: Sam Walters and Chris Hill
Chris Hill went about his job on Thursday day in the same way he has done for the past 15 plus years, running hard, tackling hard and he even played a brilliant little pass that cut Hull FC wide open and allowed Chris McQueen to score the winner. A vintage performance. Walters is a prop at the other end of his career as he’s just starting out but he stood up well against a weakened St Helens pack, scoring a brilliant try and being denied of another by the video ref. He looks a class signing for Wigan for 2024, and just pipped his future teammate Tyler Dupree to this spot.
Hooker: Micky McIlorum
Micky Mac has just extended his stay in France for another year and you can see why the Dragons want to retain him with the Englishman looking very impressive. In a spine that features plenty of experience in Sam Tomkins and Mitchell Pearce, it’s McIlorum’s calming presence of doing the basics right that make the Dragons tick.
Second-Rows: Liam Farrell and Matty Ashurt
Two club captains both standing up and being counted with Farrell helping the Warriors pack dominate whilst also providing some brilliant line breaks. As for Matty Ashurst he’s all gas and no break, a captain’s knock if there ever was one to celebrate his confirmed 2024 RFL testimonial year.
Loose-Forward: Elliot Minchella
England have plenty of very good thirteens but Minchella is a man who must be knocking on the door for a call-up. He’s been excellent all season and the strapped up forward adding another try to his name on Friday night in another clinic on how to be a ball-playing thirteen.