Monday, 12 November 2018

The Baskerville Shield : 2018

Albert Baskerville was a New Zealander who was instrumental in bringing RL to Australasia. A brief summary of how he managed that can be read by clicking here. The strenuous efforts of playing and running an arduous tour took its toll and he died before making it home. This series is named after this pioneer of RL tours. Here is a summary of the three match series in England.

27th October, Hull, England:

England 18-16 New Zealand

The Kiwis came into the game confident after having deservedly defeated Australia just before departure to the UK. Both sides were missing players, England especially. The jumped out of the blocks with a try in 3 minutes which was converted. The Kiwis soon responded in kind after 30 minutes were now ahead 12-6. England were then awarded a penalty try on half time to square it up at the break.

In the second half, the sides kick penalty goals to have the NZ slightly ahead but a fine try with 12 minutes to puts England on top and that was how it remained. England lead the series 1-0. 

3rd November, Liverpool, England:

England 20-14 New Zealand

A must win game for the Kiwis to keep the series alive. The hosts went ahead early with a penalty, with NZ taking the lead with a converted try then Makinson got his first try for England just before the interval  to level it up 6-6.

Five minutes after resumption, the Kiwis took the lead again and after 50 minutes extended that with a penalty goal for a 14-6 advantage. Then England scored three unanswered tries (making up a hat trick for Makinson) and a sound win. The Baskerville Shield is retained by England with one game to play.

Makinson scoring one of three tries . Picture source BBC.

11th November, Leeds, England:

England 0-34 New Zealand

After outplaying Australia prior to coming to the UK, much was expected of the Kiwis. England was missing key players and that grew as the series progressed. However, NZ didn't play that well and England were professional in taking the first two games. Would England be complacent going into match three? Would the player deflections hurt them? Had the scoreline been close, one would say yes, but it wasn't.

In the first half, the Kiwis scored three tries while England had two disallowed by the video referee. In that sense the 18-0 half time score could be explained. The reality was the second half remained scoreless for the hosts while the NZ side continued to widen its lead.

So the Kiwis saved their best for last while it was probably England's worst game of the series. England are now a solid unit, although this game belied that. The Kiwis continue their 'have a good game, then a couple of average ones' reputation. The series went to England, as does the Baskerville Shield. If the first two games made them feel on top of the world, the last game was a wake up call.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

2021 World Cup Qualifiers - Europe A

The fixtures below are all in 2018, involving four nations and each side played three games. They involve Group A ranked countries and a full list of the groups can be found by clicking here. The top two go through and the other two go into a play-off series, involving six sides with four going on to the 20121 WC.

Round One:

27th October, Carcassonne, France:

France 54-18

Wales put a team out with few heritage players which would test their depth of local talent. France has a team that looks the best they've had for some time. They soon took a 14-0 lead in as many minutes and led 26-0 after half an hour. Wales came back to trail 12-26 at the turn around. France then showed their class in the second period and pulled away for a comfortable victory.

27th October, Dublin, Ireland:

Ireland 36-10 Scotland

Scotland have been over achieving for some years now so it was interesting to see how they would perform here. The answer was swift as Ireland hit the ground running and established a 20-0 buffer by the break. The second half was more even but the damage had been done from Scotland's perspective.

France v Wales. Pic source RLEF.

Round Two:

3rd November, Galashiels, Scotland:

Scotland 12-50 Wales

Scotland hit the ground running and raced to an early 12-0 lead. Wales then stemmed the tide and fought back to be behind 8-12 at the break. It the second period it was all Wales, scoring nine tries in all and scoring 50 unanswered points.

3rd November, Dublin, Ireland:

Ireland 10-24 France

In an absorbing first half, France showed their class by shutting down Ireland which running in three tries to lead 18-0 at the break. Ireland scored early and late in the second half but also conceded one try so while Ireland tried hard, it was reasonably safe for France. France now qualify for the WC, and Ireland need to win against Wales to avoid the repecharge route.

Round Three:

10th November, Carcassonne, France:

France 28-10 Scotland

In a scrappy game, France showed their greater experience and class in taking a 14-4 half time lead. The second period, France went to a 28-4 lead before a late score gave the scoreline a more respectable look from the visitors point of view. The result handed France the Group A title, going through the three games undefeated.

11th November, Wrexham, Wales:

Wales 40-8 Ireland

The match had much riding on i, as was mentioned above. I expected a close encounter but it wasn't the case. The Welsh side took control from the outset and were a more effective team. They went to a 20-0 lead and by half time it was 20-4. The second half proved the first performance by the hosts wasn't a fluke and went on to take the encounter 40-8.

Wales are off to the 2021 WC and Ireland have some more games to play to make it there also. Scotland will join Ireland in the repecharge route.

Friday, 9 November 2018

USA Season : 2015

For the second year only one competition was functioning but the difference for 2015 was that teams from the defunct AMNRL were able to join if they wished. While the Southern Conference had the same four sides from the previous year, The North East and Mid-Atlantic divisions each had an additional two sides, bringing their totals to five apiece.

One was a new team, the Delaware Black Foxes but the other three came from the AMNRL. They were the Bucks County Sharks, Connecticut Wildcats and the New York Knights. Those four new sides were ended up at the bottom of the two conferences they joined.

For the two more northern divisions, second and third played of in round one of the finals, the winner then taking on the the two top of the table teams. Then the two winners went into round three to determine who would go through to the final. The team that negotiated that successfully was the Boston Thirteens.

For the Southern Conference, all the sides were involved, with first playing fourth and second against third. The Jacksonville Axemen may have made the previous three finals but were not in that form in 2015. Instead, the Atlanta Rhinos made it through.

North East Conference Southern Conference
1 Boston 13s 14 1 Atlanta Rhinos 8
2 Rhode Island Rebelion 10 2 Central Florida Warriors 6
3 Brooklyn Kings 8 3 Jacksonville Axemen 6
4 New York Knights 6 4 Tampa Bay Mayhem 4
5 Connecticut Wildcats 2

Mid-Atlantic Conference
1 Philadelphia Fight 16
2 Northern Virginia Eagles 12
3 Washington DC Slayers 6
4 Bucks County Sharks 4
5 Delaware Black Foxes 2

Playoffs – Northern Playoffs – Southern

R1 Rhode Island Rebelion 54 R1 Atlanta Rhinos 32

Brooklyn Kings 34
Tampa Bay Mayhem 26

R1 Northern Virginia Eagles 76 R1 Central Florida Warriors 44

Washington DC Slayers 36
Jacksonville Axemen 14

R2 Boston 13s 80 R2 Atlanta Rhinos 32

Rhode Island Rebelion 4
Central Florida Warriors 28

R2 Philadelphia Fight 60

Northern Virginia Eagles 12 Grand Final

R3 Boston 13s 20 N Boston 13s 44

Philadelphia Fight 12 S Atlanta Rhinos 12

It was the Boston Thirteen's second final and the Rhinos first. That experienced must have counted as the former won comfortably 44-12. The Rhinos would have to wait another two year for another crack at winning the grand final. Boston hasn't been to another since.

The winning Boston side. 

Pic from the Boston13 website.
The 2014 season can be seen by clicking here.