Round twelve of the Betfred Championship was equally split between Saturday and Sunday fixtures as an avalanche of points on both days contributed to some excellent spectacles. Some 372 points were scored, averaging 62 per game with five sides recording a score of over forty.
The closest winning margin was twenty-two points and the largest fifty-eight and the high scoring wasn’t confined to the Championship with York City Knights overcoming last weekend’s Challenge Cup disappointment recording a record winning score and margin with their 144-0 humiliation of West Wales in their Sunday afternoon Championship One encounter.
The Leeds Rhinos were back in Hull, the scene of their one-point defeat heatbreak last weekend, hoping to turn round a mini-dip in form against tenth placed Hull KR who needed the win to avoid being cut further adrift in the league table.
There were wholesale changes for the Robins after last weeks cup win over Oldham with Danny McGuire back in the side to face his previous employers for the first time on home soil.
The Rhinos made just one change with Brad Singleton in for Cameron Smith with Brett Delaney moving to the bench as coach McDermott had his eyes on fifth spot after Hull FC’s slip up in the south of France last night.
Hull FC had the task of regaining fourth spot on their minds as they made the long trip to Spring warmth in the south of France to take on bottom placed Catalans Dragons, who are now hoping for a massive turnaround in form and fortune if they are to avoid playing in the middle eights for a second consecutive season.
Coach McNamara made eight changes from the side who had a fright against the York City Knights in last weeks Challenge Cup fifth round game including the debut of Josh Drinkwater who replaced the injury retired Luke Walsh. Lee Radford named a seventeen without goal kicker and play-maker Marc Sneyd (ill) and full back Jamie Shaul (family issues).
Fifth placed Castleford Tigers had a round thirteen encounter with seventh Wakefield Trinity in the West Yorkshire derby at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle. The two sides are separated geographically by just eight miles, but by four points in the league ladder.
After a great start to the season Wakefield have suffered a recent decline with just one win their last seven outings while Castleford are still seeking their 2017 consistency despite some good wins.
After suffering a hammering at the hands of Salford Red Devils last week Trinity coach Chris Chester made a number of changes with Max Jowitt, Tom Johnstone, Ryan Hampshire, Anthony England, Kyle Wood, Pauli Pauli and Chris Annakin all in the starting thirteen. For the Tigers Daryl Powell made four changes and welcomed back Jamie Ellis and Jesse Sene-Lefao.
Salford Red Devils were seeking a third consecutive victory as they placed to the league leaders St Helens in the Thursday night televised clas in round thirteen of Super League. The pundits and the bookies all pointed to a Saints win and a tough night at the office for the Devils at the AJ Bell Stadium.
After a stunning win over Wakefield Trinity last time out the home side had Jake Shorrocks in for the injured Rob Lui, Lee Mossop replacing Ben Nakumuwai in the front row and Lama Tasi on the bench. Saints put sixty-six points on the Giants last weekend and welcomed back Mark Percival and Zeb Taia.
The neutrals were hoping for a close game.
After last weekends cup action we return to regular league fixtures across all three Betfred divisions as the battle for the Super Eights moves into the second half of the season with round thirteen of Super League, and round twelve in the Championship.
SKY have selected Thursday’s game between the Salford Red Devils and the league leaders St Helens at the AJ Bell Stadium and Friday’s local derby between the Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity, both sides still smarting from losses last weekend.
They will also televise the Saturday tea-time clash between the Catalans Dragons and Hull FC.
The draw for the sixth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup was made live this morning on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2, as the remaining eight Super League Clubs joined the eight survivors from last weekends ties.
All four of the top flight sides who entered the competition at round five made it through unscathed, although the Catalans Dragons had a bit of a fright at Championship One side York City Knights before emerging as 34-22 victors.
Whitehaven, the only survivors from the third tier, who had a fantastic 38-0 victory over Championship side the Rochdale Hornets, will have been eagerly anticipating a tie against one of the big sides and a nice pay day.
The York City Knights publicity team scented an upset as a woefully out of sorts Catalans Dragons rolled into town on the back of just two wins in a disappointing 2018. There was the whiff of a cup giant-killing in the air and the Knights wouldn’t leave any question unasked.
Steve McNamara was taking no chances and named a very strong side for the trip to Bootham Crescent knowing that their Championship One opponents would capitalise on any mistake in front of a great turnout.
The bookies didn’t think so, but was it possible that the Knights could slay the Dragons?
It was a great following from Bradford as the Bulls got an almost forgotten taste of Super League opposition when they travelled to the Halliwell Jones Stadium to take on the high flying Warrington Wolves.
John Kear, the Bulls coach, is no stranger to cup shocks having coached the Sheffield Eagles side who upset the odds and defeated Wigan at Wembley in 1998, and the Hull FC side who beat the Rhinos in Cardiff in 2005.
Warrington made wholesale changes, welcoming the opportunity to rest a few regular first teamers but Bradford had their best line-up available to hunt the upset.
Vikings coach Denis Betts was taking no chances as he named a strong line-up to open his sides Challenge Cup campaign against the part-timers, Coventry Bears. With Widnes third bottom in Super League and Coventry third bottom in League One, twenty-seven places below them, it was likely to be one way traffic.
But this was the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup and Widnes will have been keen for a quick start and points on the board to settle any nerves.
The Bears would have been hoping for anything other than a total embarrassment.