Inside RL: Table does not lie from Leeds Rhinos' perspective '“ Smith

WITH THE second half of the season now underway, here's an assessment of how the 12 First Utility Super League teams have performed so far.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 28th April 2016, 7:38 am
Updated Thursday, 28th April 2016, 8:43 am
Jordan Lilley.
Jordan Lilley.

1 Warrington Wolves: Deservedly top. Have been the the best team so far and shown a massive improvement from last season, though they may be over-reliant on certain individuals. Losses since Craig Sandow’s injury have been a concern. Grade: B +. Star man: Ben Currie.

2: Catalans Dragons: Look like genuine Grand Final contenders this season. They have free-scoring outside-backs and two in-form halves, playing behind a massive pack. Crucially they have conquered their travel sickness and are formidable home and away, though their defence can still be shaky at times. Grade: B +. Star man: Tony Gigot.

3: Wigan Warriors: Other than the drubbing at Wakefield, they have coped well with a lengthy injury list. They haven’t got anywhere near their best with ball in hand, but a mean defence is winning games for them and they have room for improvement. Grade: B. Star man: John Bateman.

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4: Hull FC: Prone to the occasional bad result, but have been more consistent this season and look capable of hanging on to a top-four spot, though injuries will have a bearing on that. Their pack is strong and they have plenty of pace in the outside-backs. Grade: B. Star man: Jamie Shaul.

5: St Helens: Disappointing so far, particularly at home. Key men, for example Alex Walmsley in the front-row, have yet to hit top form and their defence has been poor at times. Coach Keiron Cunningham would be under pressure if he wasn’t a local hero, but the win at Warrington showed what they are capable of. Grade: C. Star man: Theo Fages.

6: Widnes Vikings. Started really well, but are on the slide. At home – and when Kevin Brown and Rhys Hanbury play well – they can match anybody, but on current form they might struggle to hang on to a top-eight spot. Grade: C. Star man: Kevin Brown.

7: Castleford Tigers: Until last week’s drubbing by Hull KR they had dealt well with a nasty injury list and will get better as players return. A run of home games over the second half of the season should see them comfortably hang on to a top-eight slot, qualification for the semi-finals will take a big improvement. Grade: C. Star man: Luke Gale.

8: Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: After their expected bad start, Wildcats have been a revelation under new boss Chris Chester, playing with enthusiasm and style and showing attacking flair and new-found defensive resilience, though they they will probably just miss the top-eight. The emergence of a couple of home-grown youngsters is a big positive. Grade: B-. Star man: Tom Johnstone.

9: Hull KR: Made a mistake getting rid of coach Chris Chester after just three games, when the quality and depth of their squad was the real issue. Losing at home to Oldham was a dire result, made even more frustrating by the way they bounced back with victory away to Castleford, which improved their grading slightly. Grade D. Star man: George Lawler.

10: Leeds Rhinos: Last year’s treble-winners have suffered a spectacular fall from grace. Injuries and the loss of their training base have been a factor, but they haven’t coped without the legends who retired last year. Off-season recruitment should have been better and the fact is, they simply aren’t playing well. Grade: E. Star man: Jordan Lilley.

11: Salford Red Devils: Another improved team. Having got rid of some of their big-name signings they look more of a structured unit. They could have a bearing on what happens at both ends of the table, but the points deduction will ensure they can’t press for the top-four. Grade C+. Star man: Robert Lui.

12: Huddersfield Giants: Similar to Leeds, their next two games – both at home to Rhinos – could decide which way their year goes. Are showing signs of improvement and Ryan Brierley could be a smart acquisition, but Giants rely too heavily on Danny Brough being switched on. Grade: D. Star man: Jermaine McGillvary.