The third and deciding test between England and New Zealand was hosted at a sold out DW Stadium in Wigan. After last weeks near stalemate in London, the packed crowd were hoping for more scoring incident to complement the aggressive defence.
Autumn had well and truly arrived and the teams emerged into a rain and wind lashed cauldron. For England, Matty Smith was into the halves in place of George Williams and Germaine McGillvary was making his England debut on the wing in the place of Joe Burgess. Last weeks victors New Zealand were unchanged, and full of confidence that they could seal the series victory and take the Baskerville Shield back to the Southern Hemisphere.
After last weekends dominant win for Steve MacNamara's England over the New Zealand tourists, both sides and an eager crowd made their way to christen the Olympic Stadium with its first taste of rugby league.
The England side were unchanged from last weeks victory but Stephen Kearney rang the changes with Kodi Nikorima coming into the half backs in place of Lolohea and Alex Glenn and Lewis Brown on the bench.
A win for England would seal the series, their first in eight years, but a win for the Kiwis would take it down to the wire with the decider at the DW Stadium in Wigan next weekend.
Hulls' KC Stadium was the venue for the first of the three Autumn tests between a new-look England side and the World Cup holders, the best team in the world, New Zealand.
England were without Sam Tomkins, ruled out through injury for the whole series, paving the way for Super League Man of Steel and triple winner Zak Hardaker to take a starring role for his country.
A full house and a terrific atmosphere welcomed the two sides onto the pitch and a blood curdling Haka signalled the start of hostilities.
It was a near sell-out crowd as the Champions and treble winners returned to Headingley for a 125 year anniversary exhibition friendly against the touring New Zealanders, the visitors warm up match before the three game test series against England.
Missing nine players from their Grand Final winning side including; Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock, Rob Burrow and Brett Delaney, as well as the Rhinos contingent already in camp with the England squad ahead of next Sunday's opening test, and tomorrow's match against France in Leigh.
This was to be as much a celebration of an all-conquering season as it was a competitive match and Rhinos past-favourites Adrian Morley and Ali Lauitiiti would be in Blue & Amber for one last time.
The “WORLD RECORD” challenge to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and play the world’s highest game of rugby league, lies ahead for a unique team of volunteers in October 2015.All to raise funds & awareness, for the Steve Prescott Foundation (SPF).
PLEASE DONATE HERE https://www.justgiving.com/SpecturmKilimanjaro
But this is no ordinary team of volunteers. They include some true legends of rugby league and leaders on the field ; Adrian Morley of Salford Red Devils, retired legends Lee Briers, Barrie McDermott, Garreth Carvell, Chico Jackson, Mike Wainwright, Neil Harmon and Alan Hunte. Who will all be kept in line, by the watchful eye & keen whistle of non other than Referee Supremo, Robert Hicks.
In the climbing party are Sky Sports Angela Powers, and BBC TV’s Beccy Meehan, who will not only be climbing the mountain and taking part in the world record rugby game, but also filming the whole challenge to be broadcast across their respective TV networks.
for more on this story click here.
The 2015 season culminated with a showdown between the sides finishing the regular season in the top two spots, separated only by points difference, just as the purists would want it.
The Leeds Rhinos were looking for their seventh Grand Final win to secure a remarkable treble and send three of their finest servants in Sinfield, Peacock and Leuluai on to pastures new with yet another winners ring in their already stuffed personal treasure chests.
But Wigan Warriors were there to spoil the party as Shaun Wanes side looked to banish the memories of last season heart breaking loss to St Helens and maintain their major final hoodoo over the team from over the Pennines.
The game was too close to call, the only certainty was that it would be a cracker.
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The excitement of end of season rugby league just keeps coming. Following the events at the DW Stadium and Headingley over the last two nights, which saw Wigan and Leeds into the Grand Final, this afternoon delivered the Million Pound Match between Wakefield Wildcats and Bradford Bulls with a top flight place at stake.
The newest Super League invention, a Qualifiers' fourth versus fifth play off for a place in the top flight in 2016, descended on a packed Belle Vue Stadium in Wakefield.
One game to decide a season, a club and players futures, and the recipient of a million pounds of Super League 2016 money.
An Old Trafford Grand Final next Saturday, against the Wigan Warriors, was the prize on offer as league leaders the Leeds Rhinos welcomed fourth placed St. Helens to a packed Headingley, swelled by supporters wishing to witness the last home games of Rhinos legends Sinfield, Peacock and Leuluai.
This was the fifth meeting between the two sides in 2015 with the Rhinos having three wins under their belts, but the last meeting was at Headingley at the start of September in the Super 8s when Saints ran out as 32-18 winners, a week after the Rhinos had picked up the Challenge Cup at Wembley.
The Rhinos were firm favourites with the bookies, but only a fool ever writes Saints off.
Tonight's sudden death game at the DW Stadium pitted second against third as Wigan Warriors hosted the Huddersfield Giants in the first 2015 play-off semi-final. Wigan came into the game on the back of a big win over the Castleford Tigers, but the story was very different for the Giants who were left reeling by a traumatic last minute defeat at the hands of the Rhinos last weekend. A loss which denied them a home semi-final and instead sent them over the Pennines.
Wigan came into the game unbeaten in Super League at home and just one win away from a third consecutive visit to Old Trafford for the games showpiece event. The Giants were looking to get to Old Trafford for the first time but the pundits and bookies had them as underdogs for a Grand Final debut.
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