Super League truly is a competition where anything can happen. Anyone can beat anyone on their day making for a superb and exciting competition.
Yesterday, we saw exactly that as winless and newly promoted Toulouse shocked undefeated Champions St Helens to pick up a first ever Super League win.
But does it make the list of the 10 biggest Super League shocks? Let’s find out.
10. Wigan Warriors 22-30 Bradford Bulls 2012
2012 was a hugely contrasting year for both Wigan and Bradford. The Warriors were on their way to a second League Leaders’ Shield in three years whilst Bradford struggled towards the bottom of the table. The Bulls were gripped by financial issues with staff not always being paid. No one gave them a prayer at the DW Stadium but a superb team performance carried them to a famous 30-22 win. Former Wigan man Karl Pryce impressed with a brace whilst Luke Gale kicked 5 goals from 5 attempts.
9. Warrington Wolves 24-26 Leeds Rhinos 2011
Leeds – being one of Super League’s biggest clubs – are often the side suffering the shocks. However, in 2011 it was them pulling off the upset in what many feel is the greatest play-off game in Super League history. A poor league campaign had left the Rhinos in 5th miles behind league leaders Warrington. But when it came to the semi-final, the Rhinos turned on the style. Rob Burrow was superb scoring a fantastic try and creating another. Warrington played their part in the classic as well but a Sinfield penalty won the game for the Rhinos shocking the world as an utterly dominant Warrington team missed out on Old Trafford and Leeds became the first team from outside the top 3 to play in a Grand Final.
8. Leeds Rhinos 28-44 Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 2005
On the other end of the spectrum, Leeds were shocked themselves in 2005. The Rhinos had amassed 50 league points the previous season as they won the Super League crown. They went into this game top and overwhelming favourites. The Rhinos had won their last 20 home league games (excluding play-offs) and hadn’t suffered defeat in the league at Headingley since 2003. But West Yorkshire rivals Wakefield produced a complete performance catching the Rhinos off guard racking up 40 points at the home of the Champions.
7. Wigan Warriors 10-14 Castleford Tigers 1999
When the play-offs rolled around in 1999, many believed Castleford were simply making up the numbers. They soon proved that wasn’t the case ending Wigan’s title defence away from home with a tightly fought 14-10 win. Having beaten the reigning Champions, Cas then found a way to beat the previous season’s runners-up Leeds to move 80 minutes away from the Grand Final
6. St Helens 6-14 Harlequins 2007
In Round 1 of Super League XII, it was expected St Helens would easily beat Harlequins. St Helens had won the treble the previous season only losing four games in the entire campaign. However, they found themselves unstuck against the London club at Knowsley Road in freezing conditions. That isn’t the only time the London club shocked a dominant Saints team. They inflicted two of St Helens’ three defeats in 2019 as the two finished at opposite ends of the table. However, given the number of players rested by the Saints in both games I’ve elected to eject them from this list.
5. Widnes Viking 56-12 Leeds Rhinos 2016
Did anyone see this coming? In 2015, Leeds had been the dominant force winning the treble. Yes, they’d lost some key players going into the new season but they were still fancied to impress in 2016. They lost their opening game to title rivals Warrington by just 2 points and it was assumed they’d get back on track at Widnes ahead of the World Club Challenge. Then, out of nowhere, Widnes scored a huge 56 points against the reigning Champions inflicting one of the Rhinos’ heaviest ever defeats. It was the start of a downward spiral that would see Leeds finish 9th.
4. Castleford Tigers 38-24 Leeds Rhinos 2008
The Rhinos were red hot at the beginning of 2008. They’d were unbeaten and scoring tries for fun amassing 24 in just four games. They then won the World Club Challenge in a superb contest at Elland Road. Next for Leeds was a trip to newly promoted Castleford who had yet to win a game. However, it was the Tigers who played more like World Champions that night. Classy Cas played some scintillating rugby as Michael Shenton scored a brace guiding the Tigers to a shock win over their local rivals.
3. London Broncos 40-36 Leeds Rhinos 2014
In 2014 Leeds were well in the hunt for top spot but also had an eye on the Challenge Cup. A week before Wembley Leeds headed off to the capital to take on a winless London. Even with a number of stars rested, Leeds were expected to easily beat a hapless London side who were headed to the Championship. A superb first half from Leeds left them well in control but a fantastic comeback from London saw the Broncos complete one of the greatest shocks in Super League history picking up their one and only win of the season.
2. Wigan Warriors 4-28 Salford Red Devils 2019
Even when Salford finished third, very few expected them to make any sort of impression in the play-offs. They were beaten by Champions Wigan at the first attempt but victory against Castleford set up a rematch against the Warriors with the winners set to face St Helens in the Grand Final. At the DW, Salford did the unthinkable battering the Warriors to secure their place in the title-decider. A stellar goal kicking performance from Krisnan Inu put Salford in control whilst tries from Dudson, Lussick and Mossop saw the Reds take further command over the contest as the Devils stormed towards Old Trafford. Wigan’s only score came 8 minutes from time when the game was all but gone.
1. Toulouse 22-20 St Helens 2022
It just had to be. This is a compliment to St Helens if anything, they have set the standard over the last four years and look set for a fourth consecutive title in 2022 even despite this loss. They’ve been so perfect in the first five rounds, it seemed unlikely any team would beat them let alone the winless Toulouse still looking for their first ever Super League win. The Saints went into the game having conceded just 28 points all season but remarkably conceded 22 points in the one game as Matty Russell, Dom Peyroux, Chris Hankinson and Paul Macron scored for the French side. Macron’s try off a Tony Gigot cut out ball was the winner and shocked the entire league.