Monday, February 12, 2007

Seconds out, Round One

So, after playing one-sixth of Round 3 the week before all of Round 1, the 2007 Super League season finally got into full swing this weekend. There were some surprise results, injuries and things that really shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone.

It was the two geographically furthest flung sides that came up with the performances of the round. Harlequins travelled to Knowsley Road to take on a Saints side that had already got a competitive game under its collective belts and in positively polar conditions came out on top. Quins have recruited well for 2007 with the likes of Scott Hill and Danny Orr, and if they can keep their playmakers fit could pose a threat to the playoffs.

Les Catalans have undergone more of a transformation on the playing front, and can possibly consider themselves unfortunate only to come away from last year's Grand Final losers Hull with a point having lead for the majority of the game. Travel sickness was one of the reasons the French side were rock bottom after the weekly rounds in 2006. If they can cure that, an improvement could be on the cards particularly when Kiwi playmaker Stacey Jones returns.

Injuries are part of a collision sport such as rugby league, but big players picking up potentially serious ones on the opening weekend is a coach killer. Warrington appear to be the weekend's big losers in that respect, with both Chris Bridge and Adrian Morley looking at a lengthy spell on the sidelines after their game against Wigan. Bridge did a hamstring very early in piece, which is an occupational hazard at this time of year. Morley's however was another example of the reckless nature that saw him spend as much time on Coogee Beach as he did on the field in his career in the NRL.

The Warrington "enforcer" was making his debut for the club and went to put a big hit on young Wigan prop Eamonn O'Carroll. A little deft footwork from the youngster saw Morley grasping at thin air and ended with a clash of heads which appears to have caused significant damage to the Great Britain front rower's eye socket. This was the cause of much delight to the Wigan fans who saw the incident replayed and the outcome close up courtesy of the Sky Sports big screen.

The "Surprise, Surprise" awards for the opening round however both belong to the Saturday night game at New Craven Park, which saw Hull Kingston Rovers take on Wakefield in the Robins debut in SL. The first one goes to the result itself, which was as predictable as night follows day. Even with Wakefield leading by a point with time running out, it still looked like the Robins would be celebrating a win at the final hooter and once Wakefield coughed up the ball with a couple of minutes to go the stage was set.

The second belongs to Wakefield front rower Richard Moore. The former Leeds, Keighley, Bradford and Leigh prop has never been the sharpest tool in the box, except for the decision to shave off his curly hair which made him looked like an outraged Ronald McDonald sans make up. Sadly Moore has never shared the burger clown's demeanour, and can usually be guaranteed to come up with at least one piece of rank bad discipline per game. Saturday's was an attempt to shake the limbs off Rover's full back Ben Cockayne. If there was a market for it on Betfair, you could have laid that Moore would throw a punch, it would be against a bloke significantly smaller than him, he'd get sin binned and then stare at the referee blankly while it sank in. Frankly you'd never have to work again off the proceeds.

If Wakefield are not to find themselves slipping into the National Leagues for 2009, they need to keep as many players as possible on the field for as long as possible. You do wonder what the logic was in allowing the likes of Korkidas and Griffin to move on if they were only going to be replaced by indisciplined boneheads?

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