ESL ESL News and Views - Such An Underrated Competition (Moto)


Guest ... rington-18
6th October 2012

Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield produced a valiant display of courage and commitment to lead his side to a famous victory over Warrington Wolves as the Rhinos once more defied the odds to retain their Stobart Super League crown.

The veteran stand-off scored a try and kicked five goals from as many attempts, but it was his bravery in defying two crushing injury blows that did more than anything to inspire his side in front of a crowd of 70,676 at Old Trafford.

It also earned him the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man of the match as Leeds made a mockery of the final league placings for the second successive year by winning the title from fifth.

The victory enabled the Rhinos to became Super League's most successful club, with six championships since the competition began in 1996, while former England captain Jamie Peacock celebrated his eighth victory on his record-breaking 10th appearance.

However, most of the plaudits will go to Sinfield, who looked to be playing on auto-pilot for most of his 78th consecutive Leeds appearance after twice being flattened in crunching collisions but got up each time to inspire his team in trademark fashion.

Sinfield has now led his side to all six Grand Final wins in just nine glorious years to confirm his status as the greatest captain in Leeds' history and increase his side's love affair with Manchester.

The Rhinos have faltered on the last Saturday of August in each of the last three years to see Challenge Cup glory slip from their grasp, yet they discover a spring in their step when autumn arrives.

Yet again they built momentum throughout the play-offs and demonstrated that, once they gain a sniff of the finishing line, they prove peerless.

It proved too much for Warrington, who were favourites to end a 57-year wait to be crowned champion on their maiden Old Trafford appearance.

This time the rain stayed away and a fast track made for an open contest, with Leeds demonstrating they are not just a wet-weather team.

Despite their local knowledge, however, Leeds took some time to settle and they went behind after only three minutes when Warrington half-back Richie Myler, their most impressive player, nipped between forwards Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Peacock to score a try from his side's first meaningful attack.

Brett Hodgson kicked the first of his three goals to put the Wolves 6-0 up and Leeds' hearts sank further when the talismanic Sinfield crumbled in a heap following a tackle by Ben Westwood and Micky Higham.

But the Rhinos captain got to his feet and sparked a purple passage of play that saw his side seize control.

His cut-out pass got left winger Ryan Hall over on 11 minutes only for referee Richard Silverwood to rule it forward, but the Yorkshiremen drew level seven minutes later.

Warrington winger Joel Monaghan could only palm the ball from Sinfield's high kick into the grateful hands of Leeds centre Carl Ablett and Sinfield was on his shoulder to take the final pass and register his first Grand Final try.

The lightning bursts of Rob Burrow had the Wolves constantly back-pedalling and the Rhinos duly went in front on 25 minutes with a Sinfield penalty.

It got even better for Leeds when Danny McGuire's long pass found right winger Ben Jones-Bishop, who bumped off his opposite number Chris Riley and stepped inside full-back Hodgson to touch down.

Sinfield kicked his second conversion to extend his side's lead to 14-6 but a crucial knock-on by Ablett gave Warrington the perfect attacking position and they took advantage to score their second try, stand-off Lee Briers' long pass getting right winger Joel Monaghan over.

Hodgson kicked the goal and levelled the scores on the stroke of half-time with a penalty, and the Wolves looked the more likely victors after Sinfield took another fearful blow early in the second half following a clash of heads with Michael Monaghan.

Once again Sinfield rose to his feet but only in time to see Hodgson feed the ball from dummy half to Leeds-born centre Ryan Atkins, who crashed over for his side's third try.

However, the Wolves were forced to defend for most of the third quarter. A string of penalties enabled the Rhinos to lay siege to their opponents' line and the pressure paid off on 58 minutes when the impressive Ablett took Shaun Lunt's short pass to crash over.

Sinfield maintained his accuracy with a fourth goal to edge his side into a two-point lead, and Leeds made sure of the win when Ablett worked Hall over for a fourth try nine minutes from the end.


Jul 26, 2012
I have to admit something: Until I heard rumours of Sam Tomkins joining the Warriors I was the same as most rugby league fans in the southern hemisphere and thought that the Superleague was a joke of a comp when compared to the superior NRL. I knew there were exceptions like the Burgess family, Ellis and Graham but it was under the attitude that I would only consider them good if they compete with the best in the NRL. After looking up highlights of Tomkins to see what type of player he would be for the club, the magic of youtube made me drift to SuperLeague highlights in general. I was surprised to find out that I had enjoyed those highlights a whole lot more than most of the ones we have had this year and began looking at Superleague, not as a poor, cheap, version of the NRL, but as a separate competition of its own right.

From the highlights I saw, the Superleague isn't necessarily playing a worse brand of Rugby League, just a different style of it. And if I try to imagine what Rugby League used to be like, not long after the northern union (event, not member), I'm starting to think it was closer to the Superleague than it is to the NRL. This is mostly because that, when I was watching the highlights compilation made from two weeks of superleague, it looked eerily similar to a years worth of quality highlights from the Super 15 or whatever that Union competition is named around here. That also presents the superleague with a unique opportunity to better captivate a union audience from the southern hemisphere. A big complaint about the NRL from friends of mine who prefer union is that, through watching snippets of the NRL, they believe it to be too predictable, with the odd individual talent such as Benji, Johnson and Hayne as exceptions. Whether this this is due to them looking from the outside in and therefore not being able to appreciate the subtleness in the game is irrelevant. Because, at least from their perspective, they are right.

Superleague is what Union would be like if you took away all the time spent on scrums or penalties and just let the players run with the ball instead of kicking it every 10 seconds. In other words: It would be entertaining!

Granted, at the end of the day I will still say that the NRL is "better". But little by little I'm beginning to consider my opinion as less of a "fact", but more so a preference. What I know for sure after the little epiphany is that, at least in my mind, the SuperLeague is an underrated competition among New Zealanders and Australians.
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Forum fool
Jul 15, 2012
Good post young fella! The ESL is about entertainment. They place a high regard on players that have an ability to attack. Some of the best attacking players i have ever seen in all years of watching the game have either come from the English game or have shined in the English game. The problem for the ESL is that it is compared to the NRL. The NRL is not a better watch or a better competition, but it is a winning competition. By that i mean it has adopted rules to suit the clones it is producing. 6 foot 2 inches and built for power and speed. The NRL and by default the Australian Kangaroos have developed a brand of football that squeezes the life out of other test playing nations. Already people are saying that Tomkins wont make it in the NRL because he is too small. Nothing to do with being not good enough or lacking skills, just too small. This is one of the differences between the ESL and NRL. In the ESL there are players that are tiny compared to NRL players.
I for one have been enjoying watching the ESL for many years and i always try and encourage people that enjoy rugby, not matter which code to watch the ESL. In terms of skills and entertainment it is the best in the world.
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Well Known Member
Apr 4, 2013
hiding from the kids
I agree NU. NRL has become robotic. There are the odd gamebreakers and there are certainly players with a great deal of skill, but the game has become so intense and win at all costs that the battle in the ruck is all pervasive and attack has become a poor second cousin to the wrestle- poor refereeing is not helping either.

Get rid of interchange and the game will open up for the little blokes and the fit blokes to run amok. all well and good having the 100kg+ run on and of at will- but it has destroyed our game. Let the war of attrition and "footballers" decide games- not Athletes.