It was the weekend of five one-sided games, and a thriller in the south of France, as the Championship moved into round seventeen as the jostle continued for top four places and a chance at Super League for 2019.
The two games on Saturday saw Leigh Centurions travel to Toulouse for the afternoon game while Toronto Wolfpack took on the Dewsbury Rams in the evening. The remainder of the games were played on Sunday afternoon when; Sheffield were at Batley, Barrow at Featherstone, London entertained Rochdale while Halifax travelled to Swinton.
On paper the game of the day was in Toulouse where the visitors were Leigh, who knew that a win would lift them into the top four, at least until Sunday evening, and get them within a couple of points of Toulouse on the league ladder. The home side took an early lead through Marguerite but tries from Larroyer, Acton and Bailey, all in a twenty minute spell, put the Centurions ahead by 14-4 before Canet scored on thirty to make it 14-10 at the interval. Mika scored a converted try to edge Toulouse to a 16-14 lead but penalty goals from Reynolds on fifty-six and Hall with five minutes remaining sealed an 18-16 win which could be worth its weight in gold.
Toronto Wolfpack made easy work of the Dewsbury Rams in a 64-12 victory. Kay, Lussick, Ackers, Russell, Paterson and O’Brien all scored in the opening half an hour for a 34-0 lead before Everett scored the Rams first just before the break. Wallace added another for Toronto before the interval for 40-4. Guzdek opened the second half scoring for Dewsbury but it would be their last of the game as Buchanan, O’Brien, Rawsthorne and Russell all scored second half tries for the Wolfpack.
The London Broncos thrashed struggling Rochdale with a 68-0 demolition at the Trailfinders. First half tries from Pitts (2), Dixon (2) and Pewhairangi made it 30-0 at the break but the home side had barely got started. Dixon completed his hat-trick soon after the restart before Walker got a brace, Pewhairangi got his second and Cunningham also picked up a four pointer. Pitts kicked two goals and Dixon kicked eight for a rout which keeps the Hornets anchored to the bottom of the table.
Featherstone also scored freely against a Barrow side which has impressed so far this season. Cooper, Hock, Thackeray, Briscoe, Davies and Hardcastle all scored in the first half for a 34-0 half time lead with Johnstone scoring Barrow’s only try of the game ten minutes after the restart. Fev’ added further tries through Lockwood, Cooper and Walton to seal the 52-4 victory.
Halifax kept their top four hopes alive with a win at lowly Swinton. Butler put Fax ahead but Butt grabbed one back for Swinton a few minutes later for 6-4. But then it was all one-way traffic with tries from Moss (2), Johnston and Fleming in a ten minute spell before the interval pushing the visitors to a 30-4 lead. Tyrer, Murrell and Johnstone with his second killed the game off before the hour mark for a 46-6 victory.
Sheffield Eagles sprang a bit of a shock at Batley in recording a 38-20 win. James, for the Eagles and Scott for the Bulldogs exchanged early tries before Fozard made it 12-6 to Sheffield. Butterworth scored a converted try for Batley to make it 12-12 before Swift put the Eagles back ahead and an Aston conversion and penalty meant it was 20-14 at the interval. Millar extended the lead before Davey pegged it back for Batley and with ten minutes remaining it was 26-10 to Sheffield. The Eagles secured the win thanks to tries from Blackmore and Spedding in the closing minutes to lift Sheffield up to ninth.
The top four positions are currently occupied by Toronto, Toulouse, Featherstone and Halifax with Leigh and London just off the pace and waiting to pounce should one of the top four slip up. It’s going to be an exciting last few rounds.