Round one talking points
All the talking points from the opening round of the 2020 Super League season.
Anticipation was high heading into the 2020 Betfred Super League season and round one did certainly not disappoint.
We saw a titanic battle between Wigan and Warrington, St Helens picked up where they left off, and the double header at Headingley saw both Castleford and Hull FC make big statements at the expense of Toronto and Leeds.
An opening round which has whet the appetite of what is sure to be another campaign of twists and turns.
We take a look at all the big talking points from a wonderful weekend of action.
Thursday night’s opener between Wigan and Warrington had everything. Massive rivals going toe-to-toe and nothing was left out on the pitch.
Ben Murdoch-Masila powering over George Burgess could well prove to be one of the defining moments of the season. His try had given the Wolves an early advantage, but Chris Hill’s red card was the turning point as a Bevan French inspired Warriors ran out 16-10 winners.
The score doesn’t tell the entire story. Steve Price’s team were superb, considering they played almost an hour with 12 men and probably deserved something from the match. But Wigan are a side that know how to win and showed all their experience to close out a tight game.
Big Ben bouncing! 💥 Big Ben bruising! 💪
Big @BMMasila11 with the first try of 2020 #SuperLeague for @WarringtonRLFC pic.twitter.com/ATssUiMB38
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) January 31, 2020
Saints go marching on
A new season but some things never change.
There was something slightly ominous about St Helens’ 48-8 thrashing of Salford on Friday night. You might have expected a side playing their first competitive match under a new coach to take some time to find their best form.
However, Saints showed no signs of any problems in adapting to life under Kristian Woolf, dispatching the Red Devils with ease.
Alex Walmsley was at his powerful best, while Jonny Lomax once again showed his class with three assists. Salford, who had a number of new players starting their first game, did not even play particularly badly.
They were, however, blown away by a winning machine. We are only one game into the season, but Saints are already the team to beat.
All hail Sezer
Two big name signings made their Super League debuts on Saturday evening in Perpignan.
James Maloney and Aidan Sezer are both expected to be Man of Steel contenders in 2020 but the latter stole the show in France.
The new Huddersfield Giant put in an exquisite performance to help his team to a 32-12 win over the Dragons.
He scored 16 points, with a try and two assists.
Perhaps more notable was how Sezer controlled the game for his new club and he could well be the difference between a relegation battle and a play-off run for the Giants.
Wolfpack reality check
Understandably, there was a buzz around Headingley on Sunday afternoon as Sonny Bill Williams and the Toronto Wolfpack made their Super League bow.
The Canadian side even got off to the perfect against Castleford through a Liam Kay try. That would be about as good as it would get for the Wolfpack as they fell to a 28-10 loss.
The Tigers' showing their clinical edge and the difference between the Championship and Super League. Toronto will need to improve, and they will be hoping for better days to come.
🇨🇦 Liam Kay scores @TOwolfpack first ever try in Super League
65 tries in 63 appearances! #SLTorCas #SuperLeague pic.twitter.com/n853GfqEdR
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) February 2, 2020
The best showing of the weekend probably came from Hull FC.
Lee Radford oversaw an impressive recruitment drive in the off-season, and it all came together wonderfully as his team put Leeds to the sword at a packed out Headingley. Ratu Naulago was the star man with an assist and two tries but this was a team effort from FC.
The offloading was superb, but they were also resolute in defence, holding the Rhinos to just four points. For Leeds, the defeat was a harsh reminder of their ongoing inconsistency in the last few seasons and on this showing, they will struggle to improve on their 8th placed finish in 2019. But, as we know, nothing is certain after just one game.