Round nineteen of the Betfred Championship gave us the novelty of all seven matched kicking off on at three o’clock on a Sunday afternoon as Toulouse visited Barrow and Toronto were at Batley.
An eagerly anticipated tussle between the Bradford Bulls and Widnes Vikings turned out to be a bit one-sided but there were close games between Halifax and Featherstone, Rochdale and Swinton, Sheffield and Leigh and York and Dewsbury.
It was a terrible day at the office for the Widnes Vikings who slipped to a 62-0 whitewashing at the hands of a ruthless Bradford Bulls at Odsal Stadium. With tries from Keyes (2), Minchella, Hitchcox, Pickersgill and Flanagan the Bulls were 34-0 ahead at the interval. In the second half Keyes and Minchella completed their hat-tricks while Flanagan added his second and Oakes also grabbed his four pointer in an eleven try demolition. Keyes kicked nine goals for a personal points tally of thirty, the Bulls still seventh in the table.
Toulouse Olympique XIII maintained second spot after a 36-6 win at Barrow. Maurel scored two tries in two minutes early in the game and despite Cresswell getting one back for Barrow, Hepi, Bretherton and Mika all scored tries for Toulouse before the interval for a 24-6 lead. Bell scored just after the restart and new boy Vaivai concluded the scoring fourteen minutes before the final hooter.
Toronto edged closer to the minor premiership with a 40-10 win over the Batley Bulldogs thanks to first half tries from Russell (2), Leutele and O’Brien, answered only by a single Jouffret effort for a 24-6 interval lead. Ackers had already extended the lead when Walker got Barrow’s second but when Ackers got his second and Leutele also completed his brace the points were in the bag for the Canadians.
It was a corker of a match in York where despite two first half sin-binnings and a fifty-first minute sending off for Dixon, the home side snatched the win at the death after looking like they would lose out. Finn, Worrincy and Trout gave the Rams a 14-0 lead but Brinning and Scott scored for the home side just before the interval, and along with a Robinson penalty the sides went in all square. Harris put York ahead early in the second for 20-14 but a Gabriel try, converted by Finn evened things up on seventy-four. A Sykes drop goal looked to have won a famous Dewsbury victory with just a couple of minutes to go but a last gasp Marsh try gave the home side a three point victory.
Sheffield Eagles and Leigh Centurions had a battle royal with the Centurions edging the win by 22-18. First half tries from Forsyth and Brierley were punctuated by one from Thackeray for a 10-6 half time lead to the visitors and Forsyth extended the lead to 16-6 early after the restart. Blackmore scored Sheffield’s second before a Ridyard try for the Centurions made it 22-10. Late tries, both unconverted, from Millar and Blackmore got Sheffield to within four points, the difference on the day was the boot of Ridyard.
Halifax and Featherstone had a belter of a confrontation at the New Shay. Featherstone took an early lead through Day before Saltonstall levelled things on twenty-six. Six minutes later and King scored for Fev’ taking them into the break with a 14-6 lead. Briscoe scored after the break to extend the lead to twelve points before two converted Tyrer tries levelled the scores with seventeen minutes remaining. Six minutes from time Hardcastle broke Halifax hearts with a four pointer for a final score of 24-18.
The final game saw Swinton edge above the Vikings with a 36-28 win over the Rochdale Hornets in a game which ebbed and flowed. Ainscough and Lawton put the home side 10-0 ahead but tries from Moore, Wells and Ashton saw Swinton to a 14-10 half-time lead. Ashton extended the lead soon after the restart, Bourrel getting two back for the home side punctuated by a Butt try for Swinton. After seventy-minutes it was 22-24. Hansen put the game to bed on seventy two for Swinton but a Wood try three from full time made it 28-30. The game was finally won as the hooter sounded thanks to a second Butt try.