Super League 2017 Mid Season Report

Now that the Super League season is split into two parts, the end of the first section before the split is the ideal chance to take stock and see just how the teams have performed so far.

Just like the dreaded school report, we give our thoughts on each team’s performance and give each team a grade.

Here is our Super League 2017 Mid Season Report.

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Castleford Tigers
Castleford Tigers
Predicted Finish: 3rd-6th Actual Finish: 1st

Grade
A++

It’s a pity that there isn’t a grade letter higher than A because if there was, the Tigers would deserve it. To go 23 games in the Super League and only lose 3 matches is an incredible performance and it is even better when you take into account that they finished the first part of the season with 12 straight victories.

They went into the Qualifiers as the top scorers, by a huge margin, with the top try scorerEden), with the top points scorer Gale), the top drop goal scorer Gale), the best defence and the best points difference. They also finished 10 points clear of the rest or so sum up their season in one word, the Tigers were dominant.

The only blemish was a narrow loss in the cup quarter final to Hull FC.

Leeds Rhinos
Leeds Rhinos
Predicted Finish: 7th-9th Actual Finish: 2nd

Grade
A

After such a disappointing 2016, the Rhinos needed to turn things around quickly and whilst by the end of the season they certainly had, in the opening round it wasn’t looking good.

If last season’s visit to the Qualifiers wasn’t a wakeup call for the Rhinos players there thrashing at the Castleford Tigers certainly was as from that match on the Rhinos have looked strong and have set themselves up for a potential Grand Final and Challenge Cup double.

The Rhinos attack hasn’t always clicked but their defence has been much improved since last year, it will be interesting to see how they cope as the intensity levels ramp up towards the end of the season but to go from a team struggling at the bottom of the table to one challenging at the top, 2017 can only be deemed a big success for the Rhinos no matter what happens going forward.

Hull FC
Hull FC
Predicted Finish: 1st-4th Actual Finish: 3rd

Grade
B

It’s been a strange season for Hull FC, when they have played well, they have looked like a team capable of picking up silverware but when they have struggled, they look like a team you would expect to struggle in the Qualifiers.

For whatever reason, the whole team have struggled at times with their ball handling and with making basic errors but they have also managed to put in some of the best performances of the season, such as their cup win against Castleford.

As we go into the last part of the season the Airlie Birds know that they will have to find consistency but such is the quality of the team that they have still managed to position themselves perfectly in the league and they are also in the cup semi’s.

Salford Red Devils
Salford Red Devils
Predicted Finish: 7th-9th Actual Finish: 4th

Grade
B

The Red Devils had a difficult 2016 with poor performances on the field and poor decisions off of it but in 2017 both sides of the club have worked in harmony and that has seen them put in the sort of performances we all know they are capable off.

To go from the qualifiers to the top 4 and a Challenge Cup semi is a great return on the investment form their owner but now they need to back it up and put in the performances when it really matters.

Unfortunately for the Red Devils, they somewhat stuttered into the end of the season and only wrapped up that top 4 place thanks to Wakefield’s struggles on the last day of the season.

With just 1 win from their last 5 matches of the first part of the season, it will take a huge turnaround for the Red Devils but with a cup semi to look forward to before the start of the Super 8’s, the Red Devils have success, and failure, in their hands.

Wakefield Trinity
Wakefield Trinity
Predicted Finish: 10th-12th Actual Finish: 5th

Grade
A+

Wakefield went into the season as the favourites for many to finish bottom but they turned that on its head and finished in the top 5, only missing out on the top 4 on the last day of the season.

Whilst the 2017 season to date can only be deemed as a success for Trinity, it has still been a disappointing one with the Trin’s narrowly missing out on the top 4 and missing out on a cup semi-final in a disappointing performance at Salford.

It has been a very streaky season in terms of performances and results for Wakefield which highlights that they are very much a team in need of confidence for wins. They are also not helped by having one of the smallest squads in the league so injuries really do hit them hard and once again they have had their fair share of injuries to key players.

The biggest highlight has been the style of play they have brought to the league this season with lots of pace and in their 3 big name wingers, they have given us many of the best finishers of the season.

Now the challenge is for them to not let the season drop away, in the same way it did last season, and to keep themselves in the hunt for those play offs.

St Helens
St Helens
Predicted Finish: 1st-4th Actual Finish: 6th

Grade
C

The season so far has been the tale of 2 coaches, under Keiron Cunningham the side looked out of ideas and were short of confidence. In comes their new coach and the team looked rejuvenated and like the Championship team they could be.

They have brought through some talented youngsters with the likes of Regan Grace impressing and perhaps most importantly their end of the season performances has given them a great chance of reaching the play offs.

The confidence form those 4 wins from their last 5 matches makes them a big danger for all of the teams in the Super 8’s and sets Saint sup to be one of the much-watch teams going forward but so far it has been only an average season to date.

Wigan Warriors
Wigan Warriors
Predicted Finish: 1st-4th Actual Finish: 7th

Grade
D

Wigan went into the season as the reigning champions and one of the heavy favourites for picking up all of the trophies on offer in 2017 but what happened in reality is the club carried on slipping down the table and spent much of the latter part of the season battling against survival.

They did show some of that championship winning mentality to put in a decent run towards the end of the season to save themselves but with only an outside chance of reaching the play offs, the season to date has been a poor one by their own high standards and shows little signs of improving.

It has to be said that the club have struggled with injuries but all teams do and in many ways, that should be an advantage for the Warriors as they have the most strength in depth of any team and injuries in a strange way can help give game time to all of their players and keep them happy.

In a season of disappointment, the stand out issues have been the 2 things that have been the strength for the Warriors down the years, the team’s defence and their home form.

Huddersfield Giants
Huddersfield Giants
Predicted Finish: 7-9th Actual Finish: 8th

Grade
C

The first part of the season saw the Giants 2016 struggles continue and it looked like another season of disappointment for the Giants and another trip into the Qualifiers but something happened during the last 2 months of so.

Huddersfield started to build confidence and starting to show some form and that led to not just wins but them moving up the table and into the top 8. In the end, they only scraped into the top 8 by a single point.

8th place is still below where the Giants should be aiming for but it was still an improvement from last season and bow gives them the platform to build for next year.

Warrington Wolves
Warrington Wolves
Predicted Finish: 1st-4th Actual Finish: 9th

Grade
E

Warrington went into the 2017 as one of the favourites for Old Trafford but their early season form was poor and doubts began to creep in. Many put it down to the teams focus on the WCC match against Brisbane, a match which saw the Wolves put in an almost flawless 80 minutes and it seemed those expectations could be met.

Unfortunately for their fans the team just couldn’t match that level of performance in the league and despite having a quality squad full of internationals, the Wolves were destined to depend the whole first part of season struggling at the bottom of the table.

In the last 2 months or so something began to click and the performance levels of their players began to improve. That led to a build in confidence and the early season performances which were full of basic errors and poor decisions disappeared and the team started to pick up wins.

4 wins from their last 5 matches saw them move to within 1 point of the Super 8’s but in the end, it wasn’t enough and the Wolves finished in the Qualifiers and you had to say that that was all they deserved after under-performing for so long.

Catalans Dragons
Catalans Dragons
Predicted Finish: 3rd-6th Actual Finish: 10th

Grade
D

The Dragons had a season to forget in the regular 2017 Super League season and on the face of it will take some major work by their new head coach to get things back on track in 2018- should they survive the dreaded Qualifiers.

Just by been in the Qualifiers makes planning that big harder and it appears there needs to be a major overhaul of the squad, staff and regime in Perpignan as things have gotten progressively worse over the past few seasons.

In the build up to this season the club moved on a number of players that they believed weren’t given their all. We hoped that would the catalyst for change but it seems the problems are much more in grained in that.

There are always rumours over the differences in pay between the big-name imports and the local talent and further rumours have continued with regards to training expectations. Whatever the case maybe, if the club are to be successful once more they need to be all playing off of the same hymn sheet.

They have the talent to survive the Qualifiers and should be in Super League next season for a team with the cap spend and talent of the Dragons to finish in 10th place and a whopping 6 points off of 8th place- in fact they were closer to lost- just highlights how poor a season it has been.

Leigh Centurions
Leigh Centurions
Predicted Finish: 10-12th Actual Finish: 11th

Grade
C

For any team coming up from the Championship to the Super League the only thing you can do is try and be as competitive as you can be.

It was always going to be the case that the Centurions would finish in the Qualifiers come the end of the season but the key for them was not to go into those end of season matches on the back of been battered for the past 23 games.

On the plus side, they did remain competitive and managed 6 wins- including a famous one at home to rivals Wigan- and thanks to a last round victory they even moved off of the foot of the table.

The new format does help clubs coming up from the Championship as they have already played against full time teams for a number of weeks but the Centurions still found the early going difficult and that set them up for a season struggling at the foot of the table but they never let their heads to down to the credit of the club.

On the down side was some bad discipline from players and the recent actions of their chairman has let a sour taste in many neutral fans, and Leigh supporters, mouths.

Widnes Vikings
Widnes Vikings
Predicted Finish: 10th-12th Actual Finish: 12th

Grade
D

2017 was always going to be a difficult season for the Vikings, they were the only team to go into the season with what could be termed as negative recruitment after not strengthening and selling their best and most influential player just before the start of the season.

It should have still been a season when the Vikings were at least pushing the top 8 all of the way but they fell away badly and a poor run towards the end of the season saw them finish bottom of the table.

On the plus side the small squad at the Vikings did allow them to bed in a number of promising youngsters but you also have to say that with the squad they have and with the way they finished the season, they are looking the likeliest of the Super League teams to be picked off in the Qualifier’s.

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