Posts Tagged ‘Review 2009’

Season Review: Hull KR

October 9, 2009


Points For: 650

Points Against: 516

Home Record: W9 L4

Away Record (including Magic weekend): W8 L5 D1

Longest Winning Streak: 5 (x2)

Longest Losing Streak: 3

Top Points Scorer: Michael Dobson (246)

Top Try Scorer: Peter Fox (18)

Top Tackler: Scott Murrell (875)

Hull KR’s season ended in disappointment as they lost at home to Wigan in a pulsating playoff match in which they almost pulled off a miracle comeback. It was a bitter end to what should be seen as a very good season for the Robins as they emerged as a Super League powerhouse. After an offseason of relative calm, Justin Morgan managed to manouvre this squad into a top contender. However, a lack of experience at the top-end of Super League showed in both the League and the Cup, runs in both of which ended at Craven Park. Still, it was a very solid effort for KR, who can now justifiably claim to be top dog on Humberside.



Season Review: Wakefield Trinity Wildcats

September 25, 2009

wakefieldPoints For: 685

Points Against: 609

Home Record: W8 L5

Away Record (including Magic weekend): W8 L6

Longest Winning Streak: 5

Longest Losing Streak: 4

Top Points Scorer: Danny Brough (178)

Top Try Scorer: Ryan Atkins (13)

Top Tackler: Jason Demetriou (738)

A tough season for Wakefield ended on a sour note as the Wildcats rather tamely fell out of the playoffs. It’s a shame, because with the gruesome season that Wakefield have endured (a player dying in preseason, another academy player dying on the pitch) reaching the playoffs is a massive achievement and one of the shining examples of John Kear’s coaching ability. 

Wakefield tended to succeed on the back of outstanding play from Danny Brough, and it was no coincidence that when he didn’t play in the playoff game against Les Cats that the Wildcats looked flat and dull. It was odd because throughout the season scoring has not been Wakefield’s problem (fourth most points in the competition). Rather, the problem was a simple one of consistency, because on their day Wakefield were as good as anyone.


Season Review: Castleford Tigers

September 24, 2009


Points For: 645

Points Against: 702

Home Record: W4 L9

Away Record (including Magic weekend): W10 L4

Longest Winning Streak: 4

Longest Losing Streak: 5

Top Points Scorer: Kirk Dixon (170)

Top Try Scorer: Kirk Dixon (17)

Top Tackler: Joe Westerman (728)

A season that should be judged as successful ended with a bitter twinge, but overall Castleford had a year of real progress. The bottom side twelve months ago, the Tigers forced their way into the top half of the table this year and into the playoffs, where they narrowly lost their elimination game to Wigan. Although they weren’t the most consistent side, they did play with a real sense of exuberance when they were on form, and their crop of young players meshed well with some wily veterans to create a side that was entertaining to watch (if a little inconsistent). 

The young guns all kicked on this year, all except for possibly the brightest potential star. Joe Westerman didn’t quite reach the heights he achieved last year, although he did more than his fair share of tackling in the middle of the park. But Michael Shenton pushed on towards international honours, Kirk Dixon and Richard Owen also both reminded everyone that there’s more to the Cas production line than the main two (Owen should consider himself disappointed not to at least get a call up to the England train-on squad). The veterans also helped out as well, with Brent Sherwin proving himself an adept on-field general, and Dean Widders 


Season Review: Bradford Bulls

September 17, 2009

bradfordPoints For: 649

Points Against: 705

Home Record: W4 D1 L8

Away Record (including Magic weekend): W8 L6

Longest Winning Streak: 5

Longest Losing Streak: 5

Top Points Scorer: Paul Deacon (191)

Top Try Scorer: Semi Tadulala (13)

Top Tackler: Jamie Langley (893)

Too little, too late is probably the best way of summing up the season for Bradford. Bradford’s awful start was curious, particularly as the first three sides they beat were Catalans, Leeds and St Helens (the previous year’s top three) yet they also suffered a number of close defeats (and letting off Hull KR with a draw on the opening day proved surprisingly crucial in the end). This meant that their successful run at the end was in vain, because ultimately Bradford had taken their destiny out of their own hands.

The low point for Bradford was almost certainly their humiliating defeat at home to Warrington, when they were completely ripped apart by Chris Hicks and Mickey Higham. That defeat spurred on their first slight rise in form, winning four out of the next six games, most impressively a come-from-behind win against St Helens.  Unfortunately the Bulls couldn’t keep that momentum going until the final five games, where they almost performed a miracle, falling just short of the playoffs.


Season Review: Harlequins

September 16, 2009


Points For: 591

Points Against: 691

Home Record: W4 L9

Away Record (including Magic weekend): W7 L7

Longest Winning Streak: 3

Longest Losing Streak: 6

Top Points Scorer: Danny Orr (102)

Top Try Scorer: David Howell (14)

Top Tackler: Jason Golden (754)

Boy, was this season complicated.

The first half of Quins’ season went swimmingly. Apart from some blowouts to Huddersfield (one in the cup) Harlequins were at a minimum competitive in every game, and at their best were able to run rampant. Both Salford and Warrington (in probably the best Quins display I’ve seen over the past few seasons) felt the force of the Pastel Quarters. A dominant win at Headingley over Leeds and a crushing of Hull KR at Craven Park seemed to show that the Londoners were the real deal this season. Then Leeds returned the favour (and then some) at The Stoop and David Howell’s sending off at Wigan helped trigger a collapse that the England cricket team would be proud of. 


Season Review: Hull FC

September 15, 2009


Points For: 502

Points Against: 623

Home Record: W5 L8

Away Record (including Magic weekend): W5 L9

Longest Winning Streak: 5

Longest Losing Streak: 5

Top Points Scorer: Danny Tickle (176)

Top Try Scorer: Craig Hall (10)

Top Tackler: Lee Radford (820)

A bitterly disappointing season for the Airlie Birds, which started with so much promise before simply fading into oblivion. I can’t remember a team falling apart from a position of dominance so early into the season. If Hull looked like being locks to make the playoffs through the first quarter of the season, they were already written off by the halfway point. 

It’s hard to believe that going into the final few minutes of their game against Castleford at home, they looked like remaining near the top of the table. Then Brent Sherwin snuck over a drop goal, and their season was never the same from that point on. In fact, it would take Hull around four times as many games to get the same number of wins that they got in the first five weeks. Even worse, Hull KR took over as the top team on Humberside, finishing above FC for the second year in a row and finishing in the top four. 


Season Review: Salford City Reds

September 14, 2009

Salford City Reds

Points For: 456

Points Against: 754

Home Record: W4 L9

Away Record (including Magic weekend): W3 L11

Longest Winning Streak: 2 (x2)

Longest Losing Streak: 6

Top Points Scorer: John Wilshere (158)

Top Try Scorer: Richard Myler (11)

Top Tackler: Malcolm Alker (948)

Salford will probably view this season with a sense of frustration, and yet they have much to be proud of and have laid the (metaphorical) groundworks for a fruitful stay in Super League. As soon as they lay the actual groundworks, then they’ll be much happier. 

What really undermined Salford this year was a terrible start that cost them any playoff aspirations they had. Following a narrow victory over fellow promoted side Celtic Crusaders, the Reds then went on a six match losing streak. However, the problem wasn’t so much that they were losing; rather, it was more the manner in which they were losing. All their defeats were pretty heavy, and it looked like Salford would never get up to speed.


Season Review: Celtic Crusaders

September 14, 2009

celticPoints For: 357

Points Against: 874

Home Record: W2 L11

Away Record (including Magic weekend): W1 L13

Longest Winning Streak: 1 (x3)

Longest Losing Streak: 11

Top Points Scorer: Josh Hannay (60)

Top Try Scorer: Luke Dyer (6)

Top Tackler: Ryan O’Hara (707)

An interesting first season for Super League’s newest side, which started off with lowered expectations which it’s debatable were even reached. Some good things happened for the Crusaders this year. A lot of bad things also happened. Unfortunately, the bad things really started to pile up towards the end of the season, finally reaching the point where one found it hard to call the Crusaders’ inaugural Super League season a success, even by their relatively modified standards. 

In the end, off-field distractions (like having to switch stadiums next year, and that whole visa thing) undermined what could have been a fairly solid first Super League campaign. The Crusaders rarely looked like world beaters, but they didn’t look too out of place and a look at their Seasonogram shows that most of their early season defeats were in the twenty point range – hardly a collection of blowouts (Salford looked much worse at the start of the season). They even managed to win a few games, and in beating Wigan and Bradford they took a few big scalps.


Season Review: Those Just Not Quite Good Enough

September 14, 2009

So, six teams have been eliminated from the proceedings in Super League. It’s surprising for some of the teams to not be contesting in the playoffs, but in all the cases the key trend was a lack of consistency. None of these sides performed well enough for long enough, and that’s why they won’t be joining in the festivities in September and October. 

It’s probably no surprise that Salford and Celtic Crusaders failed to make it to the playoffs. Celtic in particular didn’t start off as badly as many people thought, but their season basically stumbled beyond mediocrity into farce with various off-field problems barely distracting from some poor showings on it. Salford will be frustrated, because an awful start which made them seem truly out of their depth eventually turned into a series of competitive games and wins over each of the top three sides. They could be a side to surprise a few people next year, but it’ll depend on good recruiting.

Hull FC and Bradford will be very disappointed to not make the top 8 as they would feel that they are big clubs, but quite frankly both sides let themselves down big time. Hull started like a rocket, only to run out of fuel really early on and have stuttered ever since. Bradford had the opposite problem, starting terribly before almost performing a miracle. Had Les Catalans not found a way to win at St Helens, they would be contemplating a game next weekend. Both sides will definitely be aiming for the playoffs next year, and they probably both need to if they want to continue calling themselves big clubs. Hull’s recruitment in particular seems risky, with definite quality players coming in, but Sean Long and Craig Fitzgibbon aren’t exactly spring chickens.

Harlequins will probably be the most disappointed side not in the playoffs, because a few months ago they were locks to have a home playoff game at some stage. Their collapse since their win at Hull KR has been startling and alarming, particularly after such a successful start. There are clear issues that need to be addressed in the offseason and you have to wonder what their chances of climbing up the table next year are, which seems odd considering they seemed like a decent outside bet to win the thing a few months ago.

That leaves Warrington, who might just be the most content with their finish. I don’t mean that Wire will be happy with finishing outside the playoffs, especially as they seemed like they were going to make it a few months ago until their season started to falter at the end. However, they did win the Challenge Cup and you got the feeling that their priorities lay at Wembley, which might explain their poor run-in. Tony Smith has clearly made strides there, and with a full preseason and some already ambitious recruiting, Warrington seem the most likely side right now to make a major leap next year

Anyway, I’ll be looking at each side more closely and introducing my latest innovation: the Seasonogram, a graph detailing the form of each side during the year (translation: I was ill last week and needed something to occupy my mind). As each team finishes the season, we’ll have a piece for them. Will six teams already down, they should have pieces up in the next few days.