Lacey Owen: York Valkyrie and England second row living her rugby dreams and inspiring next generation


Lacey Owen is held aloft by team-mates after York’s Grand Final win over Leeds

Lacey Owen was 11 when she first picked up a rugby ball. Now aged 23, she is a Women’s Super League champion, an England international, and one of the first female rugby league players in the country to sign a professional contract.

The York Valkyrie player’s rise to the top has not been without its challenges though. Growing up in Castleford, she had to get her oval-ball fix outside of a handful of league matches for her school playing club rugby union due to a lack of offerings at the time from community clubs in the area.

Owen turned her hand to other sports such as netball and football as well, but like many in the West Yorkshire town it was rugby league which was her fervent passion, and she has rapidly realised her ambitions since joining Castleford Tigers in the Women’s Super League as a 16-year-old.

“The first time I picked a rugby ball up – maybe it was the adrenaline I got or the fact it was all right to tackle somebody and run at people,” Owen told Sky Sports.

“It’s a bit weird, but I felt like it was a sport I didn’t have to try to be good at, it just came naturally. I’m a very sporty person anyway so usually if I tried something I was good at it, but as soon as I picked a rugby ball up, I knew that was what I wanted to do.

“Since picking a ball up from being in year seven, I’ve never looked back. I’ve tried every other sport you could imagine, but it doesn’t quite suffice for me in the way rugby does.”

Although utilised as a fly-half or outside centre in rugby union, Owen has found her niche as a second row in league and is now aiming to develop those ball-handling and organisational skills utilised in her roles in the 15-a-side code after harnessing her ability to pick a good line.

Owen scored the third try for York Valkyrie in the Betfred Women's Super League Grand Final against Leeds Rhinos.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Owen scored the third try for York Valkyrie in the Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final against Leeds Rhinos.

Owen scored the third try for York Valkyrie in the Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final against Leeds Rhinos.

After taking a six-month break from the sport for personal reasons at the end of 2021, Owen followed her former Castleford head coach Lindsay Anfield to York in May last year and has quickly become a mainstay of the Valkyrie pack.

Her form as York secured a first Grand Final triumph last month, beating reigning champions Leeds Rhinos 16-6 at the LNER Community Stadium with Owen among the try-scorers, was rewarded with her earning a first England cap in the end-of-year Test against Wales.

Her international debut off the interchange bench at Headingley saw Owen score a try with one of her first touches in the 60-0 win for the hosts, but perhaps the biggest moment for her this year came when she was one of 20 Valkyrie players to be offered a two-year professional contract.

“It’s unreal women in rugby league have got professional contracts and I’m one of the few women in the country who have got one,” Owen said.

I’m a very sporty person anyway so usually if I tried something I was good at it, but as soon as I picked a rugby ball up, I knew that was what I wanted to do.

Lacey Owen

“It’s a special thing, too. I’m not going to take it for granted next season and it shows how far rugby league has come as a whole, not just the women’s sport, and shows younger girls as well this is something you can achieve and hopefully in a couple of years it will expand.

“I was blown away when I got asked to sign a contract with York because it is a step forward and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted it to be more than a hobby.”

Although now a contracted professional player, Owen will still be combining her rugby commitments with her day-job at her old secondary school Castleford Academy, which means continuing the long days of heading to work a 7.30am and not getting back home until 9pm after training with York.

Not that she is complaining about the sacrifices she has to make though, and Owen is enthused by the growth of the women’s game in her home area which was underlined by four other schools bringing girls teams to Castleford Academy earlier this week for a Wakefield district competition.

Owen made a try-scoring debut for England in the end-of-season win over Wales

Owen made a try-scoring debut for England in the end-of-season win over Wales

Owen has become in demand for shirt presentations and end-of-season awards nights for girls teams too, and is humbled that she is being seen as an inspirational figure for the next generation.

“It’s really nice because I’m a role-model for all these young girls [at school] and I coach three rugby teams, so it’s really nice to see them progressing,” Owen said.

“They asked me lots of questions about it and say ‘Oh, Miss, do you think we’ll be able to do that as our job?’. It’s really nice to hopefully think women will either be able to do it part-time or full-time as a job.

“If we can achieve that working full-time, imagine what we could achieve if we had full-time contracts in the sport.”

York Valkyrie were crowned Women's Super League champions for the first time with a 16-6 Grand Final victory over Leeds Rhinos

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

York Valkyrie were crowned Women’s Super League champions for the first time with a 16-6 Grand Final victory over Leeds Rhinos

York Valkyrie were crowned Women’s Super League champions for the first time with a 16-6 Grand Final victory over Leeds Rhinos

The achievements of York’s women in recent seasons have seen them become the city’s leading rugby league lights ahead of the men’s team, the Knights, in the Championship, and Owen is delighted Andrew Henderson’s squad have been fully supportive of their efforts as well.

The Women’s Challenge Cup has so far eluded the Valkyrie though and the aim for the 2024 season is to add that prize to the collection, along with retaining the League Leaders’ Shield and repeating their Grand Final success.

“We’ve done fantastic this year as a club and something we’ve focused on is reaching the pinnacle at the right time,” Owen said. “That’s something we did really well, but now it’s about us being consistent throughout next year.

“I think the treble is on the cards for us next year and we’ve got some great players to hopefully execute that. Obviously, we all know Super League rugby and finals rugby is very different.

“It’s when pressure is applied how we execute next year, but I’ve got us pinned for the treble – I hope so, anyway.”

Watch every match of the 2024 Super League season, including Magic Weekend, the play-offs, and men’s, women’s, and wheelchair Grand Finals, live on Sky Sports. Also stream with NOW.



Source link

#Lacey #Owen #York #Valkyrie #England #row #living #rugby #dreams #inspiring #generation

Women’s Super League: Can York Valkyrie swoop against Leeds Rhinos for latest Grand Final shot at glory?

Marc Bazeley

@MarcBazeley

League Leaders’ Shield winners York Valkyrie and reigning champions Leeds Rhinos face off again in the Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final at the LNER Community Stadium; watch live on Sky Sports Arena and Sky Sports Mix from 2.30pm on Sunday (3pm kick-off)

Last Updated: 06/10/23 6:14pm


York captain Sinead Peach and Leeds skipper Hanna Butcher have their sights on lifting the Women’s Super League trophy on Sunday

The story of the York Valkyrie rugby league revolution has, up to now, been a case of so near yet so far.

The 2021 Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup final and last year’s Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final both saw them fall short of claiming one of the sport’s big two prizes. Earlier this year, York were denied a place in the first Women’s Challenge Cup final to be at Wembley as well in an agonising one-point defeat to St Helens as well.

However, the Valkyrie have another chance to put all those near misses to bed in the Women’s Super League showpiece on Sunday, live on Sky Sports. Once again, they already have the League Leaders’ Shield from the regular season in the bag and once again face Leeds Rhinos to be crowned champions.

This year, however, Lindsay Anfield’s side have home advantage courtesy of that top-of-the-table finish and will be playing in front of a bumper crowd at the LNER Community Stadium, with captain Sinead Peach under no illusion as to how significant it would be for the club to clinch a maiden BWSL title.

“It means everything,” Peach told York RLFC TV. “Starting out the season, you put out platforms for what you want to achieve and losing in the [Challenge Cup] semi-final, we were gutted, but we’ve bounced back since that.

“We’ve got an opportunity to lift another cup after the League Leaders’ and it’s everything we want, and I’m sure the girls are willing to do everything they can to make sure they come out victorious.”

For the second year in a row, York overcame Wigan Warriors to earn a place in the Grand Final, this time winning 22-6 thanks to another pivotal display from reigning Woman of Steel Tara-Jane Stanley, who scored one try and assisted two others after the visitors had taken an early lead.

Highlights of the York Valkyrie's win over Wigan Warriors in the Betfred Women's Super League semi-finals

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Highlights of the York Valkyrie’s win over Wigan Warriors in the Betfred Women’s Super League semi-finals

Highlights of the York Valkyrie’s win over Wigan Warriors in the Betfred Women’s Super League semi-finals

Reigning champions Leeds, meanwhile, needed a try from Sophie Robinson in golden point extra-time to defeat St Helens 20-16 at Totally Wicked Stadium in their semi-final clash and go some way to avenging their Wembley cup final loss to Saints in August.

Leeds have reached the Grand Final again despite England internationals Fran Goldthorp and Georgia Roche making the switch to Australia’s NRLW competition earlier this year and Caitlin Beevers, player of the match in last year’s 12-4 win over York in the title decider, hailed the togetherness of the squad.

“I think we’ve done really well,” Beevers told Sky Sports. “We’ve had a lot of adversity; we had players moving to the NRLW at the start of the season along with some injuries at the start, and I think we’ve really got to the point where we can compete in games like this.

“For the last two years we’ve managed to make it to the Grand Final and that shows how committed we are.

Caitlin Beevers says Leeds are raring to go for the women's Super League Grand final but wary of an in-form York side and their dangerous forwards

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Caitlin Beevers says Leeds are raring to go for the women’s Super League Grand final but wary of an in-form York side and their dangerous forwards

Caitlin Beevers says Leeds are raring to go for the women’s Super League Grand final but wary of an in-form York side and their dangerous forwards

“No matter the adversity we face at the start of the season, we come together and that shows what the environment at Leeds is all about.

“We’re ready and raring to go. Training for the last two weeks has been absolutely phenomenal, so we’re biting at the bit to get going.”

Last year’s final was played at the neutral venue of Totally Wicked Stadium and Leeds know how much home advantage does not always count after defeat on their Headingley home turf by St Helens in the 2021 decider.

Peach is adamant York are taking nothing for granted either, having been held to a 12-12 draw by the Rhinos at home in July after beating them 34-12 away in April, but the 2023 Woman of Steel nominee and her team-mates are excited they have the opportunity to be crowned champions for the first time in front of a partisan crowd.

Highlights of Leeds Rhinos' dramatic Betfred Women's Super League semi-final win over St Helens

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Highlights of Leeds Rhinos’ dramatic Betfred Women’s Super League semi-final win over St Helens

Highlights of Leeds Rhinos’ dramatic Betfred Women’s Super League semi-final win over St Helens

“It’s massive that we’ve got the home advantage and we’re comfortable playing here, but in the same sense we’re not complacent,” Peach said.

“We know there is a job to do, but mentally preparing that we’re going to be at our home ground with our home supporters is massive for us, and the girls are really excited to get out there and put on a good show.

“We know the fans will get behind us with the drums, so we’re looking forward to running out.”

Wilkin: Rhinos have the ability to win tight games

Sky Sports rugby league pundit Jon Wilkin on this year’s Women’s Super League Grand Final:

“Much like the men’s team from their golden era, Leeds just have an ability to win tight games and games they maybe shouldn’t win.

“I thought they did that against St Helens in the semi-finals – it was an incredible performance and a golden-point win, and rightly they find their way to the Grand Final.

“York, although they’ve played great, they haven’t won that competition before, and I know as a player that’s in the back of your mind.

“That could be poisonous for the mentality of the York team and could play into Leeds’ hands.”

Watch York Valkyrie and Leeds Rhinos face off in the Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final live on Sky Sports Arena and Sky Sports Mix from 2.30pm on Sunday (3pm kick-off). Also stream the Women’s, Men’s and Wheelchair Super League Grand Finals and more on with NOW for £21 a month for six months.



Source link

#Womens #Super #League #York #Valkyrie #swoop #Leeds #Rhinos #latest #Grand #Final #shot #glory

Wigan Warriors lift League Leaders’ Shield as Warrington Wolves clinch play-off spot in Super League’s ‘Frantic Finale’

Megan Wellens

Digital Sports Journalist @MegWellensX

Wigan Warriors sealed top spot and the League Leaders’ Shield with a 10-6 win over close rivals Leigh Leopards; Catalans Dragons finish second and also head to the semi-finals; Warrington Wolves’ win over Huddersfield Giants sees them take the final play-off spot

Last Updated: 23/09/23 8:34am


Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Wigan Warriors lift the League Leaders’ Shield after beating Leigh in their final regular-season game 

Wigan Warriors lift the League Leaders’ Shield after beating Leigh in their final regular-season game

The final round of the Super League season was billed as a ‘Frantic Finale’ and it did not fail to deliver. Let’s relive all the best moments here…

Wigan clinch League Leaders’ Shield as Catalans seal semi-final spot

Wigan Warriors can now sit back and relax after taking the spoils in a bruising 10-6 encounter against close rivals Leigh Leopards which saw them lift the League Leaders’ Shield.

Jai Field weaves his way through the Leigh defence to score the opening try for Wigan

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Jai Field weaves his way through the Leigh defence to score the opening try for Wigan

Jai Field weaves his way through the Leigh defence to score the opening try for Wigan

The Warriors did what they needed to do in the first half as tries from Jai Field and Jake Wardle gave them their 10-6 advantage, Lachlan Lam going over for the home side to make it a close game.

Both sides had tries wiped out in the second half, but the Leopards will be aggrieved by Oliver Gildart’s score being controversially disallowed as there was not clear enough evidence for the video referee to overrule the call of obstruction.

The Sky Sports Rugby League team analyse the two No Try calls in Leigh's clash against Wigan, including Oliver Gildart's controversial disallowed try

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

The Sky Sports Rugby League team analyse the two No Try calls in Leigh’s clash against Wigan, including Oliver Gildart’s controversial disallowed try

The Sky Sports Rugby League team analyse the two No Try calls in Leigh’s clash against Wigan, including Oliver Gildart’s controversial disallowed try

However, the Warriors showed their defensive steel to stay top of the table and take the all-important trophy, Matt Peet’s side cementing themselves as firm favourites to be heading to Old Trafford on October 14.

The Catalans Dragons also did what they needed to keep second spot with a 19-8 win over the Salford Red Devils to claim a semi-final spot. St Helens now play Warrington Wolves in the third place vs sixth place eliminator after a 30-12 victory over Hull FC.

A late drop goal from Sam Tomkins helped Catalans beat Salford as they finished second in the table behind Wigan

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

A late drop goal from Sam Tomkins helped Catalans beat Salford as they finished second in the table behind Wigan

A late drop goal from Sam Tomkins helped Catalans beat Salford as they finished second in the table behind Wigan

Wigan, Catalans and St Helens all finish on 40 points but the Warriors’ superior points difference proved to be the deciding factor.

What they said: Peet – I am proud of our club

Wigan Warriors head coach Matt Peet says how proud he is of his side after beating Leigh to finish top of Super League

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Wigan Warriors head coach Matt Peet says how proud he is of his side after beating Leigh to finish top of Super League

Wigan Warriors head coach Matt Peet says how proud he is of his side after beating Leigh to finish top of Super League

Wigan Warriors head coach Matt Peet…

“That is probably a game we needed, we will learn a lot from that.

“I don’t think we particularly played play-off rugby but we will learn a great deal from that and I thought it was a fantastic game.

“I am proud of everyone at the club.

“There were incidents throughout the game that were 50/50 but we will just control our team.

“It gives us that steel and it highlights some areas. We haven’t been in such a close game for a while.”

Warrington sneak into the play-off as Leigh travel to the Robins in Eliminators

Warrington knew that if they secured a win they were in the play-offs and they did just that against the Huddersfield Giants.

Matthew Storton finished off a sensational team try as Hull Kingston Rovers leapfrogged Leigh Leopards

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Matthew Storton finished off a sensational team try as Hull Kingston Rovers leapfrogged Leigh Leopards

Matthew Storton finished off a sensational team try as Hull Kingston Rovers leapfrogged Leigh Leopards

Tries from Matt Dufty and James Harrison, plus 12 points from the boot of Stefan Ratchford, helped the Wolves to a 20-8 win and kept them in sixth spot.

They now face the tough task of heading to reigning champions Saints, who now have nine wins in a row and want to make it five successive Super League Grand Final wins too.

The second eliminator is fourth versus fifth as Hull KR take on Challenge Cup winners Leigh Leopards.

Ryan Hall's try saw Hull Kingston Rovers ensure a home game vs Leigh in the Week 1 Eliminator

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Ryan Hall’s try saw Hull Kingston Rovers ensure a home game vs Leigh in the Week 1 Eliminator

Ryan Hall’s try saw Hull Kingston Rovers ensure a home game vs Leigh in the Week 1 Eliminator

The Leopards headed into the ‘Frantic Finale’ in fourth and with a 34-point cushion over the Robins.

However, Hull KR ran rampant in a 56-12 victory over relegated Wakefield Trinity and overturned that points deficit to move up to fourth and clinch a home tie.

The best of Super League’s Frantic Finale:

After a bruising encounter, Wigan beat Leigh in the final game of the regular season to win the League Leaders' Shield

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

After a bruising encounter, Wigan beat Leigh in the final game of the regular season to win the League Leaders’ Shield

After a bruising encounter, Wigan beat Leigh in the final game of the regular season to win the League Leaders’ Shield

Highlights from the Betfred Super League clash between Huddersfield Giants and Warrington Wolves

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Highlights from the Betfred Super League clash between Huddersfield Giants and Warrington Wolves

Highlights from the Betfred Super League clash between Huddersfield Giants and Warrington Wolves

Highlights from the Betfred Super League clash between Salford Red Devils and Catalans Dragons

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Highlights from the Betfred Super League clash between Salford Red Devils and Catalans Dragons

Highlights from the Betfred Super League clash between Salford Red Devils and Catalans Dragons

Highlights from the Betfred Super League clash between Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Highlights from the Betfred Super League clash between Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers

Highlights from the Betfred Super League clash between Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers

Highlights from the Betfred Super League clash between Wakefield and Hull KR

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Highlights from the Betfred Super League clash between Wakefield and Hull KR

Highlights from the Betfred Super League clash between Wakefield and Hull KR

What happens next?

You can watch the Eliminators live on Sky Sports on September 29 and 30.

The first game kicks-off at 8pm on Friday and sees Hull KR vs Leigh Leopards before St Helens vs Warrington Wolves on Saturday from 12.45pm.

The winner of Hull KR vs Leigh Leopards will then face Wigan in the semi-finals, with the winner of St Helens and Warrington Wolves travelling to face Catalans Dragons for that sought-after spot at the Grand Final.



Source link

#Wigan #Warriors #lift #League #Leaders #Shield #Warrington #Wolves #clinch #playoff #spot #Super #Leagues #Frantic #Finale

Challenge Cup final: Hull Kingston Rovers’ Elliot Minchella takes the long road to Wembley

Marc Bazeley

@MarcBazeley

Elliot Minchella is relishing his first Betfred Challenge Cup final appearance after rebuilding his playing career in the lower leagues following his release from Leeds Rhinos in 2015; the Hull KR forward and his team-mates face Leigh Leopards in Saturday’s final at Wembley

Last Updated: 10/08/23 5:38pm


Elliot Minchella is looking forward to his first Challenge Cup final when Hull KR face Leigh

On Saturday, Elliot Minchella will play in the first major final of his career when Hull Kingston Rovers take on Leigh Leopards in the Betfred Challenge Cup showpiece at Wembley. However, the back row has taken a road less trodden to get here.

The former West Bowling junior had made a promising start to his professional career with Leeds Rhinos, bursting onto the Super League scene with a try-scoring debut as a 17-year-old in 2013. However, an off-field incident the following year led to him being loaned out to London Broncos in 2015 and being released at the end of the campaign.

Minchella was left to rebuild his career in the lower leagues, first with part-timers Sheffield Eagles, where he had to find a day job outside of the game, and then with home-city club Bradford Bulls before earning a second chance at Hull KR three years ago.

Since then, he has become a vital part of the Robins’ pack and even pushed himself into contention for an England call-up. Most importantly though, Minchella has the opportunity to be part of a team competing for one of rugby league’s biggest prizes.

“It’s tough,” Minchella told Sky Sports, reflecting on life outside the full-time game. “I’d gone from being in a changing room with legends of the game at Leeds to being on a building site or working at a builder’s merchant.

“It was hard, but you lean on those experiences to make you better as a person. That’s what I live by, really – learn from the tough time and enjoy the good ones.

“I’m proud of myself to stick with it and not take no for answer. I kept working hard, kept knocking on the door, and I believe that if you keep working hard you get your reward in the end.

Elliot Minchella in action for Sheffield Eagles in 2017

Elliot Minchella in action for Sheffield Eagles in 2017

“I haven’t had that just yet, but I’m proud of the journey I’ve been on. I’ve had that never-say-die attitude towards it and I’m looking forward to Saturday.”

Even since his move to Sewell Group Craven Park, things have not always run smoothly. The Robins finished bottom of the table in the pandemic-affected 2020 Super League campaign and Minchella then suffered a season-ending ACL injury in only the second game of the following season.

Nevertheless, the 27-year-old has been able to excel with both Tony Smith and now Willie Peters in charge of the team and believes he has found a club in Hull KR which suits him as a person as well as a player.

“We’ve probably got similar values,” Minchella, who signed a four-year contract extension with Hull KR in April last year, said. “We’re not flashy, but we’re hard-working.

I believe that if you keep working hard you get your reward in the end. I haven’t had that just yet, but I’m proud of the journey I’ve been on.

Hull KR’s Elliot Minchella

“It’s a hard-working community and I love it, and it’s a great fit for me. I think we’re going places and we’ve been on a journey as a club.

“My first year we finished 11th out of 11, and we’re currently sitting in the play-offs. We’ve been in a few semi-finals and obviously the final on Saturday. I’m proud to be a part of it and long may it continue.”

After getting within 80 minutes of a first Super League Grand Final appearance in 2021, Hull KR missed out on the play-offs last year. However, former Gateshead Thunder and Wigan Warriors scrum-half Peters’ first season in charge sees them firmly in contention to make the play-offs.

They have reached Wembley for the first time in eight years too and have an opportunity to bring the Challenge Cup back to east Hull for only the second time in the club’s history, with their sole triumph coming in a 10-5 win against bitter cross-city rivals Hull FC in 1980.

Hull KR's Brad Schneider reflects on a successful start to life in England and outlines what he and his side must do on Saturday against Leigh Leopards in the Challenge Cup final.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Hull KR’s Brad Schneider reflects on a successful start to life in England and outlines what he and his side must do on Saturday against Leigh Leopards in the Challenge Cup final.

Hull KR’s Brad Schneider reflects on a successful start to life in England and outlines what he and his side must do on Saturday against Leigh Leopards in the Challenge Cup final.

That final berth was secured courtesy of Brad Schneider’s golden-point drop-goal in the 11-10 semi-final win over Cup holders Wigan Warriors at Headingley last month and Minchella believes the attitude they showed that day is indicative of the approach instilled in pre-season.

“That’s something we pride ourselves on, never giving in and being relentless in what we do,” Minchella said.

“We didn’t go away in the semi-final; it took until the 84th minute but we got there in the end and that started in pre-season.

“We had a tough pre-season where we learnt some hard lessons about ourselves and your team-mates, and it brings you tight and connected as a team.

“It’s about never giving in and that’s what the city is about, that’s what east Hull is about, and that’s what we want to be as a team to represent them.”

Hull KR's only previous Challenge Cup win came in 1980

Hull KR’s only previous Challenge Cup win came in 1980

Minchella is aware of Hull KR’s Challenge Cup final history from both the good and the bad sides, insisting that even though none of the current squad were part of it, they will be learning lessons from the 50-0 defeat to his old club Leeds at Wembley eight years ago.

He is determined to ensure he is not just a participant in the final either as he goes in search of the first major rugby league honour of his career.

“There are people who would bite your hand off to be in these sorts of games,” Minchella said. “I appreciate it and enjoy it, but we’ve got a job to do and that’s win the Challenge Cup.

“I don’t just want to be a part of it, I want to win it and go down in history as a Challenge Cup winner.”



Source link

#Challenge #Cup #final #Hull #Kingston #Rovers #Elliot #Minchella #takes #long #road #Wembley

Magic Weekend 2023: What the head coaches said on Day 2 of Super League’s big event in Newcastle


Tommy Makinson played a starring role in St Helens’ win over Wakefield

We round up all the key quotes from the Betfred Super League head coaches on Day 2 of Magic Weekend, which saw wins for Leigh Leopards, St Helens and Hull FC…

Contrasting emotions for Applegarth and Lam

Mark Applegarth is still confident he is the right man to lead Wakefield Trinity whichever division they are in next year after they fell to another defeat, this time going down 30-4 at the hands of Leigh Leopards.

The loss was Wakefield’s 14th defeat of the Super League season, and they are now six points behind 11th-placed Castleford Tigers after their neighbours defeated Leeds Rhinos in the last game of Day 1 in Newcastle on Saturday.

Highlights from the Magic Weekend Super League clash between Wakefield Trinity and Leigh Leopards.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Highlights from the Magic Weekend Super League clash between Wakefield Trinity and Leigh Leopards.

Highlights from the Magic Weekend Super League clash between Wakefield Trinity and Leigh Leopards.

Trinity were beaten despite Leigh having to play a significant part of the match with 12 men following Ben Reynolds’ first-half red card and while Applegarth admitted his frustration at his side’s failure to get off the mark so far in 2023, he still thinks he is the one to oversee their rebuild whether they survive in Super League or end up being relegated to the Betfred Championship.

“I do,” Applegarth said. “It’s a horrible experience to go through, but you’ve got to front it up head on and make sure you’re doing everything you can.

“I feel like I’m doing everything I can, whether that’s making sure we’re as best prepared, looking at our opposition and where we feel there are going to be some weaknesses.

“This week, for example, I think we’ve had really good prep, we’ve just not served up the quality on the Sunday and that’s the part I’m looking at now.

Ben Reynolds was sent off for Leigh Leopards after punching Wakefield's David Fifita.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Ben Reynolds was sent off for Leigh Leopards after punching Wakefield’s David Fifita.

Ben Reynolds was sent off for Leigh Leopards after punching Wakefield’s David Fifita.

“Is it a tactical error? Is it some messages I’m giving or the quality of what we’re trying to do? That’s the frustrating part about it.”

Leigh, in contrast, have now won seven games in a row in all competitions and even found themselves with 11 players on the pitch at one point after Tom Nisbet was sin-binned. Head coach Adrian Lam was therefore naturally delighted with the character shown by the team.

“Down to 11 men with the last 10 minutes before half-time where we defended our line, I thought that was a really special moment for us as a club,” Lam, who was named Super League coach of the month for May, said.

“In hindsight, looking back now, you can’t train those moments and it’s about having trust in each other, I thought the way we scrambled in that period was unbelievable, so I’m really proud of them for that.”

Wellens heaps praise on record-breaker Makinson

Highlights from the Magic Weekend Super League clash between St Helens and Huddersfield Giants.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Highlights from the Magic Weekend Super League clash between St Helens and Huddersfield Giants.

Highlights from the Magic Weekend Super League clash between St Helens and Huddersfield Giants.

Four tries and seven goals from Tommy Makinson saw the St Helens winger rack up a Magic Weekend record of 28 individual points as his side trounced Huddersfield Giants 48-6 in Newcastle.

The England international’s haul helped make it back-to-back wins for the reigning Super League champions and lifted them into the play-off places on points difference from Hull Kingston Rovers.

Saints head coach Paul Wellens was quick to sing the praises of Makinson for his efforts, although typically as a coach he focused on his defensive contributions as well as his attacking ones.

“I’m delighted with Tommy,” Wellens said. “Whilst he has not been playing poorly, what I really liked today was it will be about him scoring four tries, but I loved his strong defensive work and making strong decisions.

St Helens' Tommy Makinson believes that their comprehensive victory against Huddersfield Giants can help them turn the season round after they moved into the top six.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

St Helens’ Tommy Makinson believes that their comprehensive victory against Huddersfield Giants can help them turn the season round after they moved into the top six.

St Helens’ Tommy Makinson believes that their comprehensive victory against Huddersfield Giants can help them turn the season round after they moved into the top six.

“When Tommy gets that side of his game right, as well as the finishing which undoubtedly he’s wonderful at, you’ve got the complete winger and that’s why he’s up there as one of the best wingers in the world.”

It was a frustrating afternoon for Wellens’ opposite number Ian Watson though as the defeat left Huddersfield six points off the play-offs and the Giants boss had a stark warning for the players he believes are under-performing.

“It was nowhere near the level of performance we need to be,” Watson said. “Some individuals are way of the mark at the moment and it’s up to them to get better or for us to make a choice on whether to replace them going forward.

“You don’t want to have to drop players or take them out, you want them to do their job, but sometimes players go through a bit of a dip and it’s a cut-throat business. You have to be that way and make those calls on people.”

How Hull FC turned defence into attack

Highlights from the Magic Weekend Super League clash between Hull FC and Warrington Wolves.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Highlights from the Magic Weekend Super League clash between Hull FC and Warrington Wolves.

Highlights from the Magic Weekend Super League clash between Hull FC and Warrington Wolves.

Things are looking up for Hull FC, who have now won four of their last five Super League matches after defeating Warrington Wolves 30-18 in the final game of this year’s Magic Weekend.

A hat-trick from second row Josh Griffin after the break helped them fight back from being 12-0 down early on and having to defend their own line for large parts of the first half.

Black and Whites head coach Tony Smith felt it was those defensive efforts which helped set them up for the second-half fightback which moved them to within four points of the play-off places.

“Sometimes defending your own line can take the petrol out of you for the rest of the game but it did quite the opposite,” Smith said.

Josh Griffin completed his hat-trick for Hull FC against Warrington after a wonderful team move from within their own half.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Josh Griffin completed his hat-trick for Hull FC against Warrington after a wonderful team move from within their own half.

Josh Griffin completed his hat-trick for Hull FC against Warrington after a wonderful team move from within their own half.

“It energised us actually and we were all ready to go in the second half. I thought Josh turned back the clock with having to use his speed to score tries. It was terrific and I was pleased for him.”

Warrington had led through tries from Connor Wrench and George Williams, with Wrench’s second temporarily putting them back in front during the second half.

They were unable to close the game out though and Wolves head coach Daryl Powell lamented not taking the opportunity to return to the top of the Super League table.

“The way we started the first half was class, but the start of the second half was non-existent really,” Powell said.

“We’ve lost a bit of confidence at the moment and we’re working hard to get it back. We feel like when we fix up one part of our game another part is not quite there, and there’s a bit to do defensively.”



Source link

#Magic #Weekend #coaches #Day #Super #Leagues #big #event #Newcastle

St Helens: Will ‘The Fourmidables’ make it five Super League titles in a row in 2023?


Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Relive how St Helens won a record fourth straight Super League title, as we look back at some key games from the season.

Relive how St Helens won a record fourth straight Super League title, as we look back at some key games from the season.

St Helens have been at the summit of Super League for over 1,000 days, with four Grand Final wins in a row making them the team to beat and, often, try to emulate.

While they head into the 28th Super League season once again as the favourites, Saints face some big changes as they aim for the feat of a record-extending five Grand Final triumphs in a row.

Ahead of the reigning champions’ trip to Australia to face St George Illawarra Dragons and then NRL kings Penrith Panthers in the World Club Challenge – both of which are live on Sky Sports – we take a look at what to expect from Saints in 2023…

A new man in charge: Club icon Wellens at the helm

The biggest change for St Helens this year comes at the top. Three-time champion coach Kristian Woolf has departed for pastures new in the NRL, with club icon Paul Wellens earning the chance to lead his hometown club. France head coach Laurent Fraysinnous takes up the role as his assistant, too.

Paul Wellens is immensely proud to replace Kristian Woolf as the new head coach of St Helens, and says 'the club is very close to my heart' after his promotion from assistant coach.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Paul Wellens is immensely proud to replace Kristian Woolf as the new head coach of St Helens, and says ‘the club is very close to my heart’ after his promotion from assistant coach.

Paul Wellens is immensely proud to replace Kristian Woolf as the new head coach of St Helens, and says ‘the club is very close to my heart’ after his promotion from assistant coach.

Having made nearly 500 appearances for Saints, winning five Grand Finals, five Challenge Cups, two World Club Challenges, plus the Lance Todd Trophy, the Harry Sunderland Trophy, and a Man of Steel award, Wellens knows what it takes to win – and takes great pride in representing both club and town.

The 42-year-old has been in the Saints’ coaching set up since his retirement in 2015 working under both Justin Holbrook and Woolf as an assistant coach. Indeed, the latter touted Wellens as a “one of the best” coaches he has worked with – a sure sign the club believe they have a coach who could oversee a trophy-laden season once again.

A change of coach is never easy, but with Wellens having been so involved with the side already, St Helens will be confident their hometown boy can continue to keep them at the pinnacle of the sport – and the intrigue has already begun as to what style Wellens will have his side adopt.

Bringing the attacking flair to a steely defence

Woolf’s St Helens side renowned for its defensive steel, constantly making it an arduous task for opponents to cross the whitewash against the champions. Indeed, they conceded the fewest number of points of any team in each of the Australian’s three seasons in charge.

St Helens lift their fourth Grand Final trophy in a row after a 24-12 victory over Leeds Rhinos.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

St Helens lift their fourth Grand Final trophy in a row after a 24-12 victory over Leeds Rhinos.

St Helens lift their fourth Grand Final trophy in a row after a 24-12 victory over Leeds Rhinos.

While Wellens naturally wants to keep that dogged defence intact, he also wants to bring his “own ideas and philosophies” and wants the Saints to “play his way”. It should be noted Frayssinous enjoys an attacking style of rugby too.

As a player, Wellens had his best season in 2006 in Daniel Anderson’s incredibly creative side and it sounds like that is something he wants to bring into the fold, focusing on an “attractive style of rugby”.

If he can blend both those styles, St Helens would be an even more fearsome prospect, but to do so is a challenge for any head coach, especially one in his maiden year.

Wellens’ side face their first major test of the year on February 18 as they take on back-to-back NRL champions Penrith in the World Club Challenge and if they can show their strengths on the biggest stage, the Saints will lay down a marker to the rest of the competition once again and Wellens is ready for the challenge.

“The club and community have never been as connected as we are now,” Wellens said ahead of the trip to Australia, which includes a warm-up match against St George on February 11. “It is a huge challenge and obviously I am super proud to have the opportunity to coach this club.

“I am looking forward to what the challenge presents moving forward and there is no greater challenge than going down under and taking on back-to-back Premiers Penrith Panthers in their own back garden.

“But I am not doing it on my own. I am doing it with a fantastic group of players who work so hard and we take on that challenge together.”

Putting faith in the system

The one thing all the teams at the top of Super League have in common is their faith in their youth systems, and St Helens have been the leaders in bringing through young talent for decades.

With only a few signings in the off season, bringing in 2022 Betfred Championship leading try-scorer Tee Ritson from Barrow Raiders and South Sydney Rabbitohs back Wesley Bruines, St Helens have promoted more youngsters into their first team while remaining confident in the rest squad already at their disposal.

Jon Bennison goes over to extend St Helens' lead over the Leeds Rhinos in the Grand Final.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Jon Bennison goes over to extend St Helens’ lead over the Leeds Rhinos in the Grand Final.

Jon Bennison goes over to extend St Helens’ lead over the Leeds Rhinos in the Grand Final.

Rising star Jon Bennison takes the No 5 shirt with the departure of winger Regan Grace to rugby union. The likes of Joey Lussick, Konrad Hurrell and Curtis Sironen will expected to take on bigger leadership roles as well.

Saints’ players have shown they can win on the biggest stage before, but one worry is that the Saints have not recruited enough.

St Helens CEO Mike Rush has always been confident in his recruitment plan, but if injuries plague the side, there could be a worrying period for Super League’s top team as they turn to their youngsters. They will retain faith in their system, but time will only tell if they reap the rewards yet again.

The return of Dodd

Although St Helens have been quiet on the recruitment front, they will be reinvigorated in 2023 by the return of Lewis Dodd to the halves after he missed most of the 2022 season with an ACL injury.

Before getting injured, Dodd was touted as a future England star and tipped for a place in the Rugby League World Cup squad. On his return, he will be aiming to once again find the form which saw him lead the team around the park in the 2021 Grand Final at just 19 years of age.

Jonny Lomax was so proud of his St Helens team after they claimed their fourth Grand Final in a row after victory over Leeds Rhinos.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Jonny Lomax was so proud of his St Helens team after they claimed their fourth Grand Final in a row after victory over Leeds Rhinos.

Jonny Lomax was so proud of his St Helens team after they claimed their fourth Grand Final in a row after victory over Leeds Rhinos.

If he can rebuild his half-back partnership with Jonny Lomax, St Helens could be scintillating in attack and bring to life the style of play Wellens has in his mind.

Saints are expected to have a fully fit squad for the beginning of the season, with the likes of blockbusting prop Alex Walmsley also returning from a long injury. With refreshed star players at their disposal, they are well-placed to get off to a flying start.

St Helens face St George Illawarra Dragons on February 11 followed by Penrith Panthers in the World Club Challenge on February 18. Watch both games along with 66 live Betfred Super League matches, including Magic Weekend, the play-offs and the Grand Final, on Sky Sports in 2023 and stream on NOW TV.



Source link

#Helens #Fourmidables #Super #League #titles #row