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With England already having the series win under their belts, Headingley was the venue where they would seek to turn the screw, and deepen the pain, by making it a series whitewash against a Tongan side who arrived on our shores full of hope that they might cause an upset.

Shaun Wane had controversially swapped man of the series Mikey Lewis for returning skipper George Williams, the Hull KR man not included in the eighteen with additional changes seeing Currie in for the injured King and Mulhern for Radley.

Tonga also made a number of changes, the most notable being the return of St Helens star Konrad Hurrell to bolster the centres.

England were still favourites for the win, but never underestimate the pride and passion of a south pacific islander.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 4th Nov 2023 4:21 PM
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This was the third annual meeting of England and Wales Women’s international sides as Headingley played host to the encounter as a curtain raiser to the third and final test between England and Tonga.

England have won both previous encounters between the two nations but after romping to a 60-0 win in 2021, the margin or defeat was more than halved to 32-6 in 2022, with the hope amongst the Welsh contingent being that they would be even closer to matching their English counterparts this time out.

But with the England players becoming household names, against a side drawn from emerging clubs, the bookies strongly fancied an England win, the only discussion being about the size of the winning margin.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 4th Nov 2023 1:46 PM
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New Zealand were unchanged from the side who were comprehensively beaten last weekend as they hosted an Australian side at the FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton.

Australia made two changes with Payne Haas and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui in place of Jake Trbojevic and Cam Murray and were strong favourites with the bookies to pick up the trophy, despite a five year drought for the Kangaroos against the Kiwi’s in New Zealand.

The pre-match expectation was for a much closer affair than last week’s one-sided encounter.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 4th Nov 2023 5:49 AM
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England Head Coach Shaun Wane has called Josh Thewlis and Morgan Smithies into his squad ahead of the third Test against Tonga at Leeds Rhinos’ AMT Headingley Rugby Stadium this Saturday.

Smithies – who played for the Halifax community club Siddal and was confirmed as a Canberra Raiders player for the 2024 season this morning - made his international debut in the 64-0 victory over France back in April and went on to help Matt Peet’s Wigan Warriors side secure a League Leaders’ Shield and Betfred Super League Grand Final double later this year while Thewlis was named as the Betfred Super League’s Young Player of the Season earlier this month after a season which saw him cross for eight tries in 21 league appearances for Warrington.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Tue 31st Oct 2023 4:38 PM
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While Engand won the first of the three test match series against Tonga last week, it was for from a simple victory and Shaun Wane knew that his side would need to be on top form again to avoid the tourists levelling the series in the afternoons game at the John Smiths Stadium in Huddersfield.

England went in to battle with Jack Welsby wearing the captain’s armband but with enforced changes with Saints duo Morgan Knowles and Tommy Makinson being ruled out through injury to be replaced in the squad by Warrington’s Ben Currie and Matty Ashton.

England were slight favourites for the win and were handicapped by four points on the coupon, the winning margin in the first test, but Tonga would need to dig deep to take the series on to a decider in Leeds next weekend.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 28th Oct 2023 4:19 PM
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AAMI Park in Melbourne was the venue for the Australian Kangaroos against the New Zealand Kiwis in the rematch of the World Cup semi-final where the sides were separated by just two points in a sensational game, the Australians snatching the win on that occasion.

The Kangaroos are ranked number one in the world against the side ranked second as the top two went head-to-head in the Pacific Championships as a dress rehearsal for next weekend’s Pacific Cup final, and the right to take the momentum into the last game of the series.

Australia were strong favourites for the win, but New Zealand would surely have plenty to say about the outcome.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 28th Oct 2023 12:08 PM
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Wane makes two changes to England squad for second Tonga clash Warrington Wolves winger Matty Ashton is set to make his second international appearance for England on Saturday, as Head Coach Shaun Wane makes two changes to his squad for the game against Tonga at Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium.

Ashton comes in for Tommy Makinson and Wolves teammate Ben Currie replaces Morgan Knowles – the St Helens pair having picked up wrist and thumb injuries respectively during last Sunday’s 22-18 victory over Tonga in the series opener at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Knowles, like winger Dom Young, is ruled out of the rest of the three-match series.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Thu 26th Oct 2023 12:05 PM
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Reaction to the IMG preliminary grading of clubs has had a very mixed response from clubs and fans alike with those faring well being relatively comfortable with their score, while those who are down the rankings kicking back against the system, criteria, the Rugby Football League, and IMG.

There is no question that IMG have been handed a poisoned chalice, and it is impossible for them to make proposals to expand the game without upsetting a few, if not the majority of clubs.

But if you believe what a lot of fans say, in that the game is dying, then there seems to be little option than to try something radical and make a change at a fundamental level.

Social media is awash with criticism, but those with the most to lose will always shout the loudest, there are unlikely to be many evangelists putting a positive slant on the proposals, as those who are destined to benefit will keep their heads below the parapet.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Thu 26th Oct 2023 10:13 AM
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Seven Betfred Super League clubs have been awarded Grade A status in the indicative phase of the new club grading process that is being introduced as part of Rugby League Commercial and IMG’s ‘Reimagining Rugby League’ strategy.

Leeds Rhinos lead the way, following detailed analysis of every club’s performance under five pillars – On-Field Performance, Fandom, Finances, Stadium and Community.

But they are run very close by three other clubs with Wigan Warriors, St Helens and Catalans Dragons all close behind.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Wed 25th Oct 2023 10:19 AM
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Kristian Woolf returned to the Totally Wicked Stadium, this time in charge of a Tongan side starting an historic three game test series against an England side under the control of Shaun Wane who was looking to banish thoughts of a disappointing World Cup last November.

England gave debuts to rising stars Mikey Lewis and Harry Newman but were without regular skipper George Williams who will miss the opening two games through suspension, the skippers arm band being thrown in the direction of rugby prodigy Jack Welsby, captaining his international side for the first time, and on his home ground.

The home side were the favourites with a six-point handicap on the coupon, the good crowd in St Helens with their fingers crossed that Tonga wouldn’t provide the shock and heartache that Samoa inflicted in the semi-final in November 2022.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sun 22nd Oct 2023 4:38 PM
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England Head Coach Shaun Wane has named his 19-strong squad to face Tonga in the opening match of a historic three-game autumn international series at St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium this Sunday.

The side will be led by St Helens full-back and three-time Super League Dream Team player Jack Welsby – at 22 years of age England’s youngest-ever captain and the first Saints player to lead England since James Graham against Australia in the 2010 Four Nations competition.

Hull KR half-back Mikey Lewis is set to make his international debut after an impressive season during which he helped the Robins reach both the Betfred Challenge Cup Final at Wembley and the Betfred Super League play-off semi-finals.

Lewis was previously part of the mid-season international squad but didn’t feature back in April against France.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Fri 20th Oct 2023 5:36 PM
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England Head Coach Shaun Wane has named his 24-player squad for the upcoming three-game series against Tonga.

This historic series – the first between the two nations and their first meeting since the epic 2017 World Cup semi-final in Auckland – will see England host Tonga this Sunday at St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium, before meetings at Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium (Saturday 28 October) and at the AMT Headingley Rugby Stadium, Leeds, on Saturday 4 November with all games kicking off at half past two.

  Wane names five NRL players who also featured in last autumn’s World Cup campaign, including winger Dom Young – the NRL’s leading try-scorer in his last season with Newcastle Knights – John Bateman, Tom Burgess, Victor Radley and Elliott Whitehead.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Tue 17th Oct 2023 3:42 PM
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After stunning a Featherstone Rovers side, who were already making plans for 2024 in the Super League, with a sensational performance last weekend the London Broncos made the trip to the south of France to take on a Toulouse XIII side who were the hot favourites to make an immediate return to the topflight after having been relegated at the end of 2022.

It was an expansionists’ dream game with the guarantee that a side away from the rugby league heartlands would be plying their trade in the top division next season and the bookies had handicapped the home side by six points with the expectation that it would be a close game but with the French side being victorious.

With changes in the offing for league structure in 2025, and possession being nine tenths of the law, then it was crucial for both sides that they gained promotion from today’s game.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sun 15th Oct 2023 4:15 PM
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One hundred and sixty-six games over 13,280 minutes had led us to Old Trafford and the 2023 Super League Grand Final between the top two sides in the competition as the Wigan Warriors took on the Catalans Dragons for the biggest prize in the domestic game.

Wigan were the slight favourites with the bookies to take the spoils despite the Dragons having been victorious on two out of the three meetings so far this season.

He stage was set for a fairytale final game of an illustrious career for Sam Tomkins should he be able to lead his Dragons side to victory over the side who he debuted for fifteen years ago and with whom he tasted so much success, including three Grand Final victories.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 14th Oct 2023 7:57 PM
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After dominating the league season, it was Featherstone Rovers who were the massive favourites to make progress in the second play-off semi-final as they looked to end the aspirations of the London Broncos and make progress to take on Toulouse Olympique XIII next weekend in the Million Pound game.

Few gave the Broncos any hope as they made their way up the M1 to Post Office Road, many neutrals believing that it was almost pre-destined that it would be Rovers making the move into Super League this season after missing out in the final in 2019 and 2021.

The bookies thought that it was a foregone conclusion, but the Broncos have timed themselves to peak at the right time of the season and came into the game full of optimism about their chances.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sun 8th Oct 2023 8:22 PM
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In a repeat of last season’s Women’s Super League Grand Final the York Valkyrie faced the Leeds Rhinos hoping for a better outcome than the 12-4 defeat which they suffered for a heartbreaking end to their 2022 season.

York have dominated this season’s league competition, having gone the entire season unbeaten with just a single league draw to blemish their copybook, and that draw was against the Leeds Rhinos when the sides met and scored twelve points each in mid-July.

  The bookies went with home advantage and gave the Valkyrie the best chance to win the game and secure their first ever title.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sun 8th Oct 2023 4:55 PM
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A place in the elite group of the Women’s Super League awaited the winners of a play-off encounter between Barrow Raiders and Leigh Leopards as the teams that finished second and third after the regular season looked to replace the Huddersfield Giants at the top table.

The sides were only separated by a point at the end of the regular season with honours shared so far in the 2023 season, Barrow winning the game at Leigh in early September by 14-12, and Leigh being victorious in the first encounter of the season back at the start of May by 30-22.

There was plenty at stake for both sides after terrific seasons as they looked to make the next step as all eyes focussed on the LNER Community Stadium in York for the first of this afternoon’s double header of women’s rugby league.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sun 8th Oct 2023 1:46 PM
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Bradford Bulls had the unenviable task of a trip to the south of France to take on a Toulouse Olympique XIII side who were cast iron favourites to progress to next weekend’s promotion game against the victors from tomorrow evening’s game between Featherstone Rovers and the London Broncos.

The Bulls took a hammering on their last visit to the Stade Ernest-Wallon back in June when they lost by 52-14 but won the first meeting of the season between the sides by 28-18 in February.

The bookies thought that this would be a win for the home side who finished the regular season in clear second spot, but Bradford weren’t making the nine-hundred-mile journey just to make up the numbers.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 7th Oct 2023 6:47 PM
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After a Titanic battle in the south of France, the Catalans Dragons eliminated the reigning Champions St Helens with a last-minute Sam Tomkins Try which saw the French side into their second Grand Final in three years while ending the four-year domination of the most successful side of the modern era.

The second play-off promised to be equally as dramatic as the Wigan Warriors, sought a return to Old Trafford for the first time since 2020 as they came up against a Hull KR side intent on reaching their first ever Grand Final.

This was the fifth meeting of the season between the two sides with honours shared at two wins each despite Wigan having a massive points aggregate advantage thanks to their 64-6 triumph in the most recent meeting in August and which made them strong favourites with the bookies for the win at the DW Stadium and progress to Old Trafford.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 7th Oct 2023 2:41 PM
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The bookies had made the Catalans Dragons slight favourites ahead of tonight’s final eliminator against a Saints side looking for their fifth consecutive Old Trafford appearance and potentially a fifth consecutive Grand Final win.

The two sides last met in July at the Totally Wicked Stadium when the Dragons secured a 14-12 win with the season’s previous meeting at the Stade Gilbert Brutus at the beginning of May also witnessing a Dragons win, by 24-12 on that occasion.

Steve McNamara’s side have had a week off to prepare for their big game, and once which they will have been building towards for the last month, while Saints had a tough run out last weekend in the opening round of the playoffs when they beat Warrington Wolves by 16-8.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Fri 6th Oct 2023 9:54 PM
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