Last years Minor Premiers and losing Grand Finalists, Castleford Tigers, started their 2018 campaign with expectations of another barnstorming season as they travelled to a tough Totally Wicked Stadium to take on St Helens.The last time that the sides met there was just a golden point victory between them as the Tigers miraculously won the game in added time, after being down and out, to make it into the Grand Final.These sides were tipped as the two favourites to finish the season in top spot and to lift the silverware at Old Trafford in October. Nothing would be decided tonight but it would give us an indication of how the two sides may fare in the season ahead.
The eagerly anticipated Super League XXIII got underway at the Halliwell-Jones where Warrington Wolves were the hosts to the Champions, Leeds Rhinos, in front of the SKY cameras.
Warrington were hoping to consign a miserable 2017 to the history books and get their season off to a great start against a Rhinos side who have beaten them in thirty-five of the fifty-eight meeting in the Super League era.
The Rhinos played their first competitive match in the post Burrow and McGuire era and had their hopes pinned on debutants Richie Myler, Nathan Peteru and ex-Wolves star Brad Dwyer, while Warrington gave debuts to close season captures Ben Murdoch-Masila and Bryson Goodwin.
There is just one more day of questions until our ‘close season Rugby League Quiz marathon’ is complete. Since the middle of December we’ve had close to four hundred competitors, answering five questions a day, in their quest to become our quiz champion.
The final batch of five questions will be released at midnight tonight (30th January) and we will give all competitors until the midday on Monday 5th February to complete all 260 questions. We will then crown our champion, and make the draw for a pair of Grand Final tickets from all of those entrants who have made an attempt at all 260 questions, even if they got them all wrong.
With Super League XXIII getting underway on Thursday night our sides have had a mixed bag of pre-season results as they complete their preparation for the long months of competition ahead.
Little can be read into the results of pre-season matches as they are arranged for a variety of reasons. Some are planned as competitive run-outs for the coach to have a look at his stars performing together but many are unlimited substitution games which feature a large number of fringe players and are often arranged to assist some of the games smaller clubs to raise some much needed pre-season funds.
That said, a round-up of pre-season results may be of interest to those looking for their early season prediction competitions.
The first round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup threw together National League Premier Division side Rochdale Mayfield, against a Crosfields side from Warrington who play their rugby in National League Conference Division Two for the live streamed game on the BBC website. Forty-eight amateur sides were included in the first round, to be joined later in the competition by Championship and Super League teams.
Being played for the 115th time, the first being in 1896, the BBC have the screening rights and will be live streaming a game in each round up to and including the fifth round of the competition. From the sixth round onwards coverage will switch to BBC1 and BBC2 right through to the final at Wembley on the 25th August.
The 2018 national U14 and U16 high school rugby league championships got off to a promising start, with an increased 19 teams from 11 schools participating, Calabar High the defending champions at both age groups.
In the U14 category, Kingston College, Calabar, Spanish Town and St. Catherine are joined by newcomers, Cedar Grove Academy, Old Harbour and BB Coke High.
Old Harbour won on debut against Kingston College and Cedar Grove Academy’s draw with St. Catherine were the surprise results from round one.
Both Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos put out strong sides as the Champions travelled to the Minor Premiers for a pre-season friendly on the eve of Super League XXIII. Conditions were terrible for the game at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle, cold, damp and some snow flurries in the air.
Both coaches Powell and McDermott named extended benches as they looked to give a run out to their fully fit squad players as the Rhinos looked towards the start of the season in the post-Burrow and McGuire period.
The Betfred Championship competition gets underway on Friday 2nd February when Sheffield Eagles travel to Dewsbury to take on the Rams in the opener. Toulouse Olympique XIII host Swinton Lions in the Saturday afternoon kick-off, with all of the remaining round one fixtures being played on Sunday afternoon.
Featherstone Rovers are at home to Halifax, Barrow Raiders make the long trip south to take on the London Broncos which relegate Leigh Centurions take part in probably the most eagerly anticipated game of the weekend as they host the Toronto Wolfpack in a game which will set the scene for the season. The final game of the weekend is Rochdale Hornets against Batley Bulldogs.
But who do the bookies think will make it into the all-important top four places and a shot at promotion in the middle eights?
Two weeks tomorrow, Betfred Super League XXIII gets underway as the Warrington Wolves welcome last season’s Champions the Leeds Rhinos to the Halliwell-Jones Stadium in the opening fixture. A few minutes later the Challenge Cup winners Hull FC open their campaign with a home fixture against the Huddersfield Giants.
Friday sees three fixtures with; Salford Red Devils at home to Wigan Warriors, St Helens entertaining the minor premiers the Castleford Tigers, and the newly promoted Hull KR at home against Wakefield Trinity. The final game of the opening round takes place on Sunday afternoon when the Widnes Vikings have their first game against last season’s Million Pound victors, the Catalans Dragons.
But what do the bookies think will be the outcome of what promises to be a closely fought season?
The Moderators and Admins of RLFANS.COM would like to wish all our users and visitors a Happy and Prosperous New Year as we welcome in what promises to be a fantastic 2018.
We are now just a month away from the start of the Betfred Super League XXIII season and while it only seems like two minutes since that incredible World Cup Final, we can’t wait for the new competitions to get underway with so many questions to be answered.