Round 17 of the Betfred Super League season proved a dramatic one, as there was a rare defeat for leaders St Helens, while Hull KR parted ways with head coach Tony Smith.
Winners – Leeds Rhinos (33/1 – Grand Final Winner)
After suffering back-to-back defeats, Leeds Rhinos returned to form in some style on Saturday, claiming a resounding 62-16 victory on the road against Hull FC.
The Rhinos ran in 11 tries during the one-sided contest, including 40 unanswered points after the hosts had briefly closed the gap to 22-16 early in the second half.
Special mention has to go to Leeds wing Ash Handley, who was responsible for five of his side’s tries, while the win helped lift the Rhinos up to ninth in the standings.
Winners – Catalans Dragons (7/2 – Grand Final Winner)
Catalans Dragons claimed a superb 20-18 victory over St Helens in what were sweltering conditions in Perpignan on Saturday, with Mathieu Laguerre, Josh Drinkwater, Samisoni Langi and Dean Whare grabbing the host’s tries.
The win would have tasted especially sweet for Catalans, as they gained revenge for not only last season’s Grand Final defeat to Saints, but also the two losses they have already suffered against the league leaders this season.
The Dragons were of course League Leaders’ Shield winners last year and this win will have boosted their chances of replicating that success in 2022, as they are up to third in the standings and are just four points behind Saints.
Winners – Toulouse
It has been a difficult first season in the Betfred Super League for Toulouse and they went into Saturday’s home clash with Hull KR having won just twice all year.
However, Sylvain Houles’ side produced an assured display at the Stade Ernest-Wallon, as tries from Latrell Schaumkel, Paul Marcon, Chris Hankinson and Olly Ashall-Bott helped them to a deserved 28-6 win.
Toulouse remain bottom of the standings despite the victory, but they are now just four points behind Wakefield Trinity and have no doubt boosted their chances of survival.
Losers – Hull KR (80/1 – Grand Final Winner)
After being within 80 minutes of the Grand Final last season, things have unravelled quickly for Hull KR and Tony Smith, with the coach having been relieved of his duties on Monday.
Smith had already confirmed his plans to leave the Robins at the end of this season, but following a run of seven defeats in eight matches, the club have now decided to part ways with the 55-year-old with immediate effect.
The final straw was Saturday’s defeat to Toulouse, with Smith’s assistant Danny McGuire set to take temporary charge until new coach Willie Peters’ scheduled arrival ahead of the 2023 season.
Losers – St Helens (Evens – Grand Final Winner)
St Helens’ defeat to Catalans ended the reigning champion’s six-match winning run in the Betfred Super League, although coach Kristian Woolf will be hoping it is nothing more than a rare blip.
There were extenuating circumstances for the loss, as Woolf is dealing with a lengthy injury list that may well have grown after wing Tommy Makinson was forced off with a leg injury during the first half of Saturday’s contest.
Saints still have a two-point cushion at the top of the standings, but that could evaporate when they take on second-placed Wigan Warriors at Magic Weekend on Saturday (Match betting – St Helens 8/15, Wigan 8/5, Tie 18/1).
Losers – Hull FC (33/1 – Grand Final Winner)
Hull FC had been glad to see the back of June following three successive defeats on the road, but a change of month and a return to familiar surroundings did little to lift the mood at the MKM Stadium.
The defeat to Leeds marked the first time Hull FC have conceded more than 50 points in a game since Brett Hodgson’s arrival as head coach last season.
Speaking after the loss, Hodgson labelled his side’s performance as “not acceptable”, but with the small matter of a Magic Weekend derby against Hull KR to come this Sunday, the Airlie Birds will not have long to lick their wounds.