10 Feb 2020

Round two talking points

The talking points from round two of the 2020 Betfred Super League.

The 2020 Betfred Super League continued to excite in round two as four drama-filled encounters saw wins for Warrington Wolves, Hull FC, Castleford Tigers and Salford Red Devils.

Unfortunately, the weather meant both of Sunday's games were postponed, but there were still plenty of talking points from a weekend which proved the Super League remains as unpredictable and thrilling as ever.

Wire nil champs

Warrington put in a quite remarkable performance to topple St Helens on Thursday night. 

The Wolves played with an intensity we did not see throughout the second half of the 2019 season and completely overwhelmed Kristian Woolf’s side. Daryl Clark, Blake Austin and youngster Matty Ashton, who looks a great prospect, were all excellent on the night.

The Wire scored three tries, but it was their defensive work that impressed the most.  To keep the defending champions to 0 points represents an incredible effort and is a big statement so early in the season. 

Stefan Ratchford somehow stopping Kevin Naiqama scoring early in the second half was almost celebrated like a try by the Warrington players, showing how much keeping Saints off the scoreboard meant to them.

St Helens were missing a number of important first-team players. Alex Walmsley pulling up in the warm-up did not help their cause. However, that should not take away from Warrington, who still have Gareth Widdop to bring back into the fold and very much look like contenders in 2020. 

KR continue to prove doubters wrong

Despite their opening round triumph over Wakefield, there were not many giving Hull KR a chance of beating Hull FC. Their last visit to the KCOM Stadium ended in a 56-12 drubbing at the hands of their local rivals, and some were expecting a similar result this time around. 

Tony Smith’s side had other ideas. Harvey Livett and Adam Quinlan crossed for first half tries, and Ben Crooks’ score might already be the try of the season. They played with a freedom and excitement against a team that many are tipping as potential grand finalists.

KR may have eventually gone down 25-16 but based on this performance they will not be the relegation candidates that many expected them to be.

FC go top 

Speaking of the derby, Hull FC moved to the top of Super League with victory on Friday evening. They are also the league’s top-scorers and have so far lived up to their pre-season hype. 

In round one they completely dominated Leeds, but this triumph was a different kind of win. The Black and Whites had to grind it out and remain resolute against their local rivals but did enough to pull through and pick up the win. 

The returning Danny Houghton was hugely influential, while Josh Griffin impressed again - scoring one try, assisting another and making 139 metres. 

FC’s next two games are against Wigan and St Helens. If they can win both of them, and that’s a big if, then we may well be looking at a team capable of going all the way.

Wolfpack improve but Salford do enough

The Wolfpack were much improved in round two and came close to beating Salford on Saturday. They were well in the game at 16-16 but two late tries helped the Red Devils’ to a 24-16 win.

Sonny Bill Williams looked more like the superstar that the Wolfpack signed, and they showed a tenacity and fight which will stand them in good stead for the rest of the Super League season. 

The obvious problem being they remain without a win. Facing the trio of Wigan, Warrington and St Helens in their next three fixtures is hardly ideal for the newly promoted outfit.

For Salford, there would have been some relief around the AJ Bell Stadium after their win, but they do not currently look like a team that can repeat their 2019 heroics.

Stormy Sunday

We are only two rounds into this Super League season, but the weather is already causing havoc. Storm Ciara, which swept across the UK on Sunday, saw both Wakefield against Catalans and Huddersfield v Leeds be postponed. 

There was some talk that Wakefield were trying to get their match against the Dragons re-arranged for Monday night, but it came to nothing. 

For now, all four sides may well benefit from the extended period of rest. However, it means an extra game later in the season and leaves little room for manoeuvre if any future matches fall victim to the weather.  

By Oli Lathrope