It was a day which we thought might never come during the darkest days of the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Grand Final from the unfamiliar venue for the showpiece event at the KCOM Stadium in Hull.

It was the defending champions against the minor premiers, the top two sides in the regular competition, and most would argue the most fitting two sides to end the season.

Saints were unchanged from the side which demolished the Catalans Dragons last weekend to make it to the Grand Final.

Wigan had Sam Powell back in their starting line-up, Ben Flower missing out, as the Warriors looked to emulate their win from a month ago, the last time that the two sides met.

There have only been three Grand Finals where one of these two sides didn’t feature although they have only met on three occasions in the season finale, Saints winning on two of the three previous match-ups.

Wigan were very slight favourites with the bookies, St Helens getting a two-point start on the coupon but what we were all hoping for was a hard, fast and close Grand Final to wave goodbye to an extended 2020 season.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Fri 27th Nov 2020 10:02 PM | Views : 893 | Replies : 0 | READ MORE

Eighty minutes stood between either St Helens or the Catalans Dragons and a Grand Final against the Wigan Warriors at KCOM Stadium in Hull next Friday night.

Saints were massive favourites with the bookies and had home advantage against a Dragons side who were without the services or Michael McIlorum and Joel Tomkins who had both picked up big bans after indiscretions against the Rhinos last weekend.

Saints had the benefit of three weeks off while the Dragons made yet another trip to the UK after surrendering home advantage for last Fridays semi-final against Leeds.

Steve McNamara brought a well drilled side and Saints were fully aware that they’d lost on their last two outings against first Salford and against Wigan in their last game to surrender the minor premiership.

Kristian Woolf will have spent the week making sure his side didn’t slip up for a third time.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Fri 20th Nov 2020 9:35 PM | Views : 1913 | Replies : 0 | READ MORE

After their surprise victory over the Warrington Wolves in last weeks’ opening play-off game, Hull FC were looking to take the scalp of the minor premiers, Wigan Warriors, to secure a trip to their own stadium for next Friday’s Grand Final.

Wigan came into the game after a week off but in great form after overtaking St Helens to finish top of the league while FC had the luxury of naming the same seventeen which did the business last time out.

The bookies had the home side as firm favourites, but coach Adrian Lam would have been emphasising the importance of a good start, and a top-drawer performance, during training this week.

It was ‘do or die’ for both sides.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Thu 19th Nov 2020 9:36 PM | Views : 2457 | Replies : 0 | READ MORE

New South Wales came into the deciding State of Origin 2020 game at the Suncorp Stadium in Sydney brimming with confidence after their big win last week which saw them level the series, but Maroons coach Wayne Bennet would have been telling his side all week that it was about just one game, the one now ahead of them.

Brad Fittler names the same seventeen that romped to victory last week, but there were five changed in the Queensland squad with Brenko Lee, Christian Welch, Corey Allan, Edrick Lee and Harry Grant all named.

A New South Wales win, strongly tipped by the bookies, would mean a third consecutive series win for the Blues, but should Queensland overcome the odds then they would make it four series wins in the last six and nine in the last twelve.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Wed 18th Nov 2020 11:13 AM | Views : 3545 | Replies : 0 | READ MORE

Friday 13th would turn out to be a unlucky one for either the Catalans Dragons or the Leeds Rhinos as the two went head to head in the play-offs to compete for the dubious honour of a trip to the Totally Wicked Stadium next Friday night to take on St Helens.

Despite ending the ‘irregular’ regular season in fourth place, the Dragons had already been disadvantaged by having to make the trip to Warrington’s Halliwell-Jones Stadium for the match due to Covid concerns, the Rhinos making the simple trip across the Pennines, albeit on a Friday night.

Both coaches, Rhino’s Richard Agar in absentia due to enforced coronavirus self-isolation, named strong sides with the bookies having difficulty separating the two and giving slight favourites odds to the Rhinos who were giving away a two-point start on the handicap coupon.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Fri 13th Nov 2020 9:39 PM | Views : 3293 | Replies : 4 | READ MORE

In this most extraordinary of seasons we’ve finally made it within five games of the end of the season as the Superleague 2020 play-off got underway at the Halliwell-Jones Stadium in Warrington where sixth placed Hull FC were the visitors.

Up until a week ago FC were outside the, then four, play-off places and making up the numbers but a truncation of the regular season and extension of end of season competition to six teams gave them a shot at the grand final, to be held at their home ground in a fortnights time.

Warrington ended the regular season in third and were strong favourites ahead of the game, having been given an eight-point handicap on the coupon.

But this was knock-out rugby league and we’ve learnt this season that it is almost impossible to pick a winner.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Thu 12th Nov 2020 9:47 PM | Views : 2427 | Replies : 0 | READ MORE

The crucial second game of the Australian State of Origin 2020 series from the ANZ Stadium in Sydney was a mouth-watering prospect as the cream of the Aussie game met to do battle for the pride of their birthplace.

A week ago, Queensland came from behind to beat New South Wales in an enthralling game at the Adelaide Oval.

After trailing 10-0 at the interval they recorded an 18-14 win to put them in pole position to overcome two years of heartache to win the three-match series.

NSW made five changes with Walker in for Keary, and Hass in for the injured Cordner.

Brown, Finucane and Yeo were on the bench and Crichton was in the starting line-up with Paulo on the bench.

QLD had Holmes at full-back for the injured Brimson, Lui for Welch, and Su’A was promoted from the bench in place of Hess.

Fotuaika was called into the seventeen.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Wed 11th Nov 2020 11:06 AM | Views : 4334 | Replies : 1 | READ MORE

The maths were simple for the Wigan Warriors.

A win would seal the minor premiership and send them into play-offs in pole position, an unthinkable loss would gift the minor premiership to arch-rivals St Helens and push Wigan into third spot and a play-off game against Hull FC next week.

The Wigan starting thirteen was the same as the one which beat St Helens to go top of the league last weekend the only change in the seventeen being George Burgess in for the suspended Joe Greenwood.

The bookies and pundits favoured a Wigan win but with nothing else to play for the neutrals were hoping that the Giants would give everything to spoil the Warriors’ party.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Fri 6th Nov 2020 9:29 PM | Views : 3389 | Replies : 2 | READ MORE

The dead-rubber to end all dead-rubbers as Wakefield Trinity and the Salford Red Devils did battle to see who would finish this most extraordinary of seasons in ninth place, and who would end it in tenth.

Salford needed a win to overcome the three-win deduction which they suffered earlier in the week and jump ahead of Trinity, while the Dreadnoughts knew that a win would secure them ninth but also that they couldn’t catch the Castleford Tigers in eighth.

The season was effectively over, and the stage was set for a game between two sets of players who were already in an off-season mindset and who would be going out of their way to ensure that they didn’t pick up any injuries.

Both coaches named strong looking squads, but both also admitted to being down to the bare bones of their squads as injuries and coronavirus took their toll.

A late change saw Dan Sarginson replaced with Niall Evalds for Salford after Sarginson picked up an injury in the warm-up.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Fri 6th Nov 2020 7:22 PM | Views : 2275 | Replies : 0 | READ MORE

With Melbourne Storm having picked up the major domestic prize in the Australian game.

All eyes now turned to the season finale, a three game State of Origin series as the best in the game represented New South Wales and Queensland in the most anticipated battles of the year.

The Blues of New South Wales were looking for a third consecutive series victory to reinforce their recent dominance while the Maroons have won eleven out of the last fourteen of the three-game competitions.

It was Brad Fittler’s Blues against Wayne Bennett’s Maroons in the stage-setting first game as eleven debuting players fulfilled their boyhood dreams and took to the field to make their debuts in the 40th running of the series.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Wed 4th Nov 2020 11:07 AM | Views : 5314 | Replies : 3 | READ MORE

In this most confusing of seasons, and with Super League teams gathering around the virtual conference table to discuss an early end to the season, the Salford Red Devils and Catalans Dragons were thrown together in a re-arranged round nine game at the AJ Bell Stadium on a wet Monday afternoon.

Salford forfeited their last scheduled game against the Warrington Wolves and were awarded a 24-0 loss and they now took on a Catalans side which has fallen victim to a number of positive coronavirus tests and who have not played a game since the 9th of October when they beat Hull KR by 34-4.

Win or Lose the Dragons would not change their league position, but a win would make their claim for a play-off place increasingly credible as they moved within two games of the previously required fifteen.

A win for Salford would lift them into the top eight, and the potential of a play-off place depending on the structure changes to be hammered out by the club chairmen.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Mon 2nd Nov 2020 4:37 PM | Views : 2922 | Replies : 7 | READ MORE

After a fantastic 30-4 victory for Wakefield Trinity over the Leeds Rhinos on Thursday evening, the two sides met again in a re-arranged round eleven game at the Mobile Rocket Stadium in Wakefield.

Both coaches made a raft of changes to their starting line-ups and benches, most notably the Rhinos were without captain Luke Gale who was rested.

Wakefield were slight favourites with the bookies, the Rhinos given a two-point start on the coupon, possibly as a response to last week’s loss, and possibly a reflection of the number of changes that coach Agar had made.

Leeds needed the win to maintain their push for the top four, should tomorrow’s meetings require such a finish to make the play-offs.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sun 1st Nov 2020 3:48 PM | Views : 2497 | Replies : 2 | READ MORE

Super League 2020’s top two sides came together in the original derby as second placed Wigan Warriors took on the league leaders and defending champions St Helens in a round nineteen clash at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

A win for Wigan would lift them to the top of the pile but a victory for St Helens would render them almost unstoppable in their charge for the minor premiership.

Saints were big favourites for the win, but Wigan had just a six point start on the handicap coupon.

It was the local derby though, anything could happen.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Fri 30th Oct 2020 10:13 PM | Views : 3069 | Replies : 1 | READ MORE

Huddersfield Giants’ Leroy Cudjoe marked his 300th career appearance in this hastily arranged fixture against Warrington Wolves, brought forward from round 21 after Wire’s original opponents Salford were left with just 13 fit players – the Wolves were awarded a 24-0 victory for the records.

 

Castleford, who had been scheduled to play Huddersfield, have been stood down for two weeks after 13 positive Covid tests on Tuesday.

 

Posted by tb on Fri 30th Oct 2020 8:01 PM | Views : 1492 | Replies : 0 | READ MORE

The Hull derby had little to play for but local pride as KR faced FC at the Totally Wicked Stadium in St Helens.

FC would get very close to the Leeds Rhinos on win percentage after the Rhinos lost in the earlier game against Wakefield Trinity but KR we already too far adrift to get to get into a play-off place, a knew that a win wouldn’t lift them off the bottom.

FC were favourites with the bookies to take the bragging rights, but the form book counts for little in the local derby.

Both coaches will have spent the week planning for the clash and motivating their players.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Thu 29th Oct 2020 9:40 PM | Views : 12365 | Replies : 0 | READ MORE

Wakefield came into this game against Challenge Cup winner Leeds looking for a third win on the trot, having successfully climbed off the bottom of the table.

 

The Rhinos, on the other hand, were seeking to secure a play-off place off the back of Monday’s hard-fought win against Castleford, as the disjointed season entered its business end.

 

They put down a marker in their opening set, forcing a drop-out from Trinity, but the pressure came to nothing and the game settled into an undecided tussle for the opening period, with teams trading errors.

 

Posted by tb on Thu 29th Oct 2020 7:25 PM | Views : 2432 | Replies : 4 | READ MORE

Despite the talk of another fundamental change to the 2020 season being on the immediate agenda, both Richard Agar and Daryl Powell were focussed on the first Leeds v Castleford derby in fifteen months as the Rhinos looked to make ground on the Catalans Dragons while the Tigers were intent on making life as difficult as they could for their neighbours.

Both sides were at near full strength and it was certain to be a heated affair, despite the chilly conditions, at Emerald Headingley.

Leeds were favourites with the bookies, the Tigers getting a ten-point start on the handicap coupon.

But this was the ‘derby’ and anything was possible.

A nineteen-point win would lift the Tigers above the Giants and into seventh, but Leeds knew that a win wouldn’t be enough to see them into the top four but would ease the pressure coming from Hull FC behind them.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Mon 26th Oct 2020 9:44 PM | Views : 2861 | Replies : 0 | READ MORE

Fresh from demolishing the Rhinos on Friday night, the reigning Champions and Champions elect took on the Salford Red Devils in what was, on paper, another one-sided encounter on a Monday evening as St Helens and Salford re-enacted last years Grand Final.

Saints retained the services of Alex Walmsley despite him picking up a two match ban for a Grade C dangerous tackle in the Leeds game (his ban not coming into effect until midnight tonight) as  they named a youthful squad including five debutants; Nico Rizzelli, Ben Davies, Jake Wingfield, Tom Nisbet, and Matthew Foster.

Salford had unsettling news in the camp with their coach Ian Watson being widely linked with a potential move to Hull FC but on the field they welcomed back Dan Sarginson who had been self-isolating since before the Challenge Cup final.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Mon 26th Oct 2020 7:21 PM | Views : 15939 | Replies : 0 | READ MORE

Round eighteen saw the battle of the wooden spoon as Wakefield Trinity hosted Hull KR for a Sunday afternoon kick off.

Both sides have a twenty percent win record with Wakefield currently bottom by virtue of KR having a better points difference.

Wakefield grabbed a crucial win over the Huddersfield Giants last time out while Hull KR lost to the Castleford Tigers, both clubs having had just two days to recover from their exploits.

A win for either side would see them in tenth place in the table, Salford Red Devils were too far ahead for either side to make much of an impression on ninth spot.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sun 25th Oct 2020 3:46 PM | Views : 5217 | Replies : 26 | READ MORE

Forty thousand fans were allowed into the ANZ Stadium in Sydney for the 2020 Grand Final between the top two teams in the competition as the Penrith Panthers took on Melbourne Storm under leaden skies.

The game had been widely tipped as legend Cameron Smith’s last game for the Storm and with a more recent history in the end of season jamboree it was the Melbourne side who were tipped as favourites for the win despite ending the regular season five points behind the minor premiers on the league ladder.

This was the Storm’s tenth Grand Final of the modern era but only the third for the Panthers.

The last Panthers win was in 2003, but Melbourne have played in three of the last four, last lifting the trophy in 2017 when the beat the Cowboys.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sun 25th Oct 2020 10:42 AM | Views : 2530 | Replies : 2 | READ MORE


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