21/10/2019

Rugby League talking points: Refereeing controversy, Super League’s relegation battle and Bradford Bulls’ Odsal goodbye


Scrutiny of the play-off and relegation pictures Super League’s referees, and the closing match of Odsal all attribute this week.
It’s been a challenging week for Super League’s game officials, who have a task without the onslaught of criticism they have faced from several quarters.
On Friday, St Helens proprietor Eamonn McManus caused a stir with his remarks regarding the appointment of Robert Hicks to the Challenge Cup final and some of the decisions the Saddleworth referee created for the game against Castleford Tigers, in his programme notes at Wembley.
Those remarks have observed McManus – who released a statement on Sunday through the site of the club reiterating his viewpoints – referred to the compliance group of the RFL.
Wakefield Trinity head coach Chris Chester did not return on Sunday was left handed by the circumstances which led to Liam Marshall scoring an attempt at Sunday’s 24-16 defeat to Wigan Warriors.
Referee Scott Mikalauskas failed to ensure Wigan winger Marshall tapped on the ball to the correct markers by a restart his second try of the match – a determination that incensed Chester.
“You’ve got a referee who’s on the spot and only let Liam Marshall tap wherever he desired,” Chester said post-match.
“I don’t know if the principles have changed, however, it’s just a disgraceful call, a disgraceful call. It is a phone you shouldn’t get erroneous.”
That conquer as only one of 3 teams games left in the regular period, Wakefield, that have just two wins in their previous 13 Super League matches.
A 24-6 success in Perpignan over Catalans Dragons saw whereas Huddersfield Giants did by winning 22-12 around the street at Hull FC, Hull Kingston Rovers stay in that category.
It means side London Broncos must now win their remaining games away to Rovers – which is live on Sky Sports this Friday – to have some hope of remaining up following a 36-10 beat at home.
The Broncos have defied many naysayers to be in with a chance of avoiding the drop at this phase of the season and head coach Danny Ward has supported his team.
“The boys are devastated because they understand they have not done well and they’ve dropped, but it is a short turnaround and we’ve got to win another couple of,” Ward stated.
“They’ve been in this situation before and hopefully they could draw on these experiences. It is must-win time, it’s black and white so it depends how the boys respond to that and hopefully they cope with that pressure and it will get the best out of them.”
Catalans’ defeat to Hull KR eliminated them in contention for a place in Super League’s top five, leaving four teams jostling for position behind League Leaders’ Shield winners St Helens.
Castleford Tigers are just two things outside the play-off places following Friday’s 4-0 defeat away to Saints, while Warrington Wolves, Hull FC and Salford Red Devils are locked on 30 points going into the last two rounds.
Nevertheless, it is currently the Grand Final winners Wigan who venture on the pursuing bunch following Sunday’s win away to Wakefield of year.
Against opponents St Helens – into their 10 matches since losing at Magic Weekend to Warrington, the Warriors are presently on a run that has seen them endure only one defeat – after a start to their title defence.
Head coach Adrian Lam understands the job isn’t done yet, but is delighted with the way.
“The dressing room’s quite excited at the present time,” Lam said. “They know, they’ve been prepped along the way how significant this has been and also the travel that we have been around to get here.
“I didn’t want to mention another side if we had of lost, a possible prospect of missing out on the five collectively. That it is.
“Everyone’s worked extremely hard and I believe we’re in a good place right now.”
As they bid farewell to football league in town, house to Odsal since 1934 it had been an emotional weekend for the players, staff and fans of Bradford Bulls.
The floor that has hosted global Tests and after watched over 100,000 fans cram into it for a Challenge Cup final playoff will now have its own doors closed after becoming prohibitively expensive for the club, with the Bulls moving 11 miles away to ground-share at Dewsbury Rams’ Tetley’s Stadium for 2020.
The 7,531 audience in attendance Sunday watched Bradford sign off in the famous old ground in a high chairman Andrew Chalmers has pledged the town will be returned to by the club and also since they defeated Sheffield Eagles 30-10 at the Championship.
As yet there are no firm plans as to where or if this will be.
“It is sad, however I really don’t know the finances in supreme detail so we have only got to keep this club alive and kicking and hopefully progressing,” Bulls head coach John Kear said after the win over Sheffield.
“That’s what we will be attempting to perform Dewsbury second year before hopefully we return someplace in Bradford that’s befitting of a team that’s challenging for Super League or can be in Super League.”
Spare a thought for Barrow Raiders, who had to confront the might of Toronto Wolfpack in Canada with 14 players on Saturday.
The Raiders’ squad was decimated by injuries in recent weeks anyway and the part-timers also had several players who have been unavailable to create the excursion.
Given those conditions, the defeat – with all the points of Barrow coming from Jamie Dallimore in his 100th appearance for the club – against the full-time leaders isn’t a disgrace.
Unfortunately that loss supported their relegation after two years back. There is set to be one Cumbrian representative in the Championship next year.
Whitehaven’s 74-6 win on the weekend means they only must prevent defeat to Coventry Bears on Saturday to seal promotion.
Neighbours Workington Town could be coming up too last year, after falling out if they could navigate the play-offs.

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