Seven games of three days threw up plenty of surprises in the Betfred Championship as round twenty-one saw two draws, and only two games won by more than fourteen points.
Sheffield got proceedings underway on Friday night with a home game against the Dewsbury Rams while Toulouse Olympique played at Rochdale and Toronto took on Featherstone on Saturday evening.
Batley and York, and Bradford and Swinton faced up on Sunday afternoon while Halifax took on Widnes and Leigh travelled up the M6 to face Barrow.
Sheffield made a good start against the Dewsbury Rams with tries from Blackmore and Ogden for a 12-0 lead but tries from Speakman and Knowles scored for the Rams later in the half, before Blackmore got his second, and the Eagles third, for a 16-10 half time lead. Knowles levelled the scores on fifty-one but seventeen minutes from time Farrell , followed by Esslemont five minutes later sealed the Eagles win. Worrincy scored late on for the Rams as they didn’t throw in the towel but they lost out by 22-28.
The Rochdale Hornets got a rugby league lesson at the hands of Toulouse who ran in twelve tries in a 68-0 demolition on Saturday afternoon. Bergai picked up six tries, four in the first half and two in the second, while Kheirallah got a brace, both Vaivai’s scored, and Mika and Marion picked up a try each. Kheirallah goaled ten conversion for a personal haul of twenty-eight points which took Toulouse back up into second spot overnight.
There was a terrific battle in Toronto as Featherstone Rovers swung into town. Despite O’Brien opening the scoring in the second minute for the home side it took until four minutes from the interval for the Wolfpack to get their second for a 14-0 half time lead. Ormondroyd got Rovers first try just after the restart but Leutele made it 18-6. Walters was next on the board for Featherstone for 12-18 but McCrone edged his side to a 22-12 lead on sixty-five. Jones scored the third try for the visitors on seventy-two, converted by Dagger, but the home side held on for a 22-18 win.
On Sunday afternoon York regained second spot, but only after a tremendous battle, and a drawn game, with the Batley Bulldogs. Broadbent, with a Jouffret conversion put Batley 6-0 ahead after sixteen minutes and they held that lead until just before the break when Robinson kicked a penalty to reduce the half-time arrears to just four. Scott scored first for York in the second half to level the scores but Jouffret, with a try, conversion and penalty gave the Bulldogs a 14-6 lead. Jordan-Roberts scored a try with Robinson kicking a conversion and a penalty nine minutes from time to level the scores. As the final hooter sounded Robinson missed what would have been the winning penalty for the City Knights who will consider this as a point dropped.
The Swinton Lions continued their good run with a tremendous draw away at Odsal as the disappointed the Bradford Bulls supporters in a bad tempered affair which saw four yellow and one red card. Lepori, Bennion and Smith raced the Lions into a 16-0 lead before Garside got Bradford’s first of the afternoon. Ashton added another for Swinton for 22-4 but two tries from Pickersgill and Webster, just before the break, sent the Bulls into the sheds trailing by just 18-22. Kibula made it 28-18 ten minutes after the restart before Lilley and Storton Gave the Bulls a 30-28 lead. When Ashton scored a converted try on seventy-three he must have thought it was enough for a famous Swinton win but Farrell scored in the dying second, the conversion being missed by Keyes, for a draw game at 34-34.
There was a terrific home win for Halifax over the Widnes Vikings . Tyrer, Tangata and Butler sprinted Halifax out to an 18-0 lead before Wildie and Hatton both got tries for Widnes for a respectable 10-18 half time scoreline. The second half was all one-way traffic as Moore, Tyrer, and Butler with two more to complete his hat-trick swept the home side to a very impressive 40-10 win.
Last, but by no means least, was the Leigh Centurions 24-8 win in Cumbria against the Barrow Raiders. Cross gave Barrow the early lead which they held on to until two minutes before the interval when McNally, converted by Ridyard, gave the visitors a 6-4 half-time lead. Thornley and Ridyard had extended the Centurions lead to 18-4 before Ritson got the second for Barrow. The final try of the game, from Thompson on seventy-two, sealed the win for Leigh to keep their play-off hopes very much alive.