The last round of the standard season until we all go our separate ways into Super 8s and Middle 8s, could it have been any different? Leeds nilled, Salford nilled, Leigh winning and a hole the size of the Grand Canyon between 1st and 2nd place – it was round 23 and it was a good one!
It was a made in Lancashire affair for the top try scores this round, Saints with 6 tries and Wigan get 7 tries while defeating a fresh faced Leeds side. Both metrics way above the season averages for both sides, Saints average nearly 4 tries per game and Wigan average just over 4 tries per game.
Given the intro we have some rather obvious wooden spoons for this round with both Leeds and Salford failing to score a point let alone a try this round.
This was a relatively even bag with no team getting above 4 assists, Catalans, Warrington, Huddersfield and Wakefield managed to set up each try they scored to get an 100% record here.
Getting close to breaking season records for tackling (this season Hull got 412 tackles in one round) Leeds made 406 tackles and Widnes made 408. Although no one can question the effort a team shouldn’t be tackling that much in a game and it shows with both teams losing their games.
Castleford doing just enough to win in France making just 277 tackles, the lowest of the round. It underlines what an excellent and efficient defensive unit that side has.
Breaking through the defensive line was Saints with 39 tackle busts winning Wakefield in impressive style, Wolves were similar in breaking down the Widnes defense with 31 tackle busts.
Average Gain per Carry
Warrington lead the charge with an impressive 8.08 metres made per carry, this has been a highlight of their season, the ability to move up the pitch better than anyone else – that’s right better than anyone else in Superleague! It’s a mystery to me with this stat why they aren’t doing more this year, having seen a few games it’s the errors at critical times and lack of creative attacking force. I can’t back up the lack of creative with a stat but they have made 319 errors this season that’s 19 more than Hull FC and the most in the league.
Failing to make it out of the blocks was a competition between Salford and Leeds with Salford managing a 5.96 metres per game but bottom of the class was Leeds with 5.40 metres made per carry.
Running away with it in their respective games were Saints with 9 clean breaks closely followed by Wigan and Warington both on 8. Bottom of the class again was Leeds with 0 clean breaks.
Wigan offloaded an incredible 23 times in this round with no other side even in the 20s, Leeds bottom again with just 2 offloads.
Penalties, Cards and *cough* balancing the books
Top of the table in Superleague are Castleford Tigers, but also topping the table for penalties are the Tigers this round with 14 penalties that’s a penalty every 5 and half minutes (nearly) and Catalan received 9 so that was a total of 23 penalties in one match and one penalty every 3 and half minutes! Castleford also received 3 yellow cards in this game, I have my own opinion on if these offensives were worthy of a yellow card or not.
What is interesting is that up until round 22 Castleford had received one yellow card in 1,760 minutes of rugby this season, these 3 yellows takes the Tigers total card score to 4 which is more inline with the rest of the league. I’ll just leave that there for you to ponder over…
What does it all mean?
Castleford did well to battle with players away from the field at points defending their own line with 11 men, it was a gutsy performance which showed a never say die attitude that has come to be part and parcel of Castleford’s game.
Salford and Leeds both dropping 2 points has given Castleford a 10 point advantage to start the Super8s with, I’d be very surprised to see that number 1 spot to disappear before the end of the super 8s
A Saints resurgence hasn’t gone unnoticed and could they do enough to get into the top 4 in place of Salford? Places 2-4 are certainly all to play for as we approach the business end of the season.