The bottom two sides in a fledgling Super League 2019 table met at the DW Stadium as the Wigan Warriors hosted the Leeds Rhinos. Wigan needed the points to overcome their points deduction, while the Rhinos needed a win before bad habits set in under the new stewardship of Dave Furner.

This was the last chance for Wigan to hit some form ahead of their World Club Series match against the Sydney Roosters a week on Sunday, but the Rhinos and their travelling band of fans were looking to upset the overwhelming bookies odds and pick up a victory.

The only change for the Warriors was a switch of Clubb changing places with Navarrete in the starting thirteen. The Rhinos had Dwyer and Peteru in the run on side with Cuthbertson and Parcell moved onto the bench.

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The opening fixture of round two saw the Castleford Tigers travel to an embattled Hull FC as they looked to follow up on last weeks opening round win over the Catalans Dragons.

FC were looking for their first win in thirteen outings, stretching back to the 29th June 2018, and coach Radford was delighted to welcome back England half-back Jake Connor after he missed the opening loss at Hull KR through suspension. He also had Hakim Miloudi and Joe Westerman in his starting thirteen, and Micky Paea on the bench.

The Tigers had just a couple of changes with Alex Foster replacing Mike McMeeken, who was ruled out with concussion.

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The opening weekend of the Betfred Championship served up some interesting prospects as the Widnes Vikings, York City Knights and Bradford Bulls joined the survivors from last season in an expanded fourteen team competition, all with their sights on the play-offs final and a Super League XXV place in 2020.

The game of the round saw newly promoted York City Knights take on last years losing Million Pound Game side the Toronto Wolfpack as the Canadian side welcomed a new dawn under coach Brian McDermott. Elsewhere Bradford Bulls had a local derby against Featherstone and the relegated Widnes Vikings hosted Halifax.

It would be an exciting first Sunday.

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With the Betfred Super League already underway, Sunday saw the opening round of a very competitive looking Betfred Championship, with all fourteen sides in action. New boys, the York City Knights, had the honour of welcoming the Toronto Wolfpack to a freezing Bootham Crescent as the Canadian side looked to begin their campaign with a victory.

It would have been difficult for Toronto to put last seasons last match disappointment in the Million Pound Game behind them, but with the ultra-successful Brian McDermott taking over as head coach, and a large churn in playing staff, it was likely that the Knights would be up against it in their opening fixture, despite home advantage and a big partisan crowd to welcome them to Championship One life.

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Just as they did on the opening weekend last season, the Warrington Wolves and Leeds Rhinos got their season underway with an encounter at Halliwell-Jones Stadium. Despite the Rhinos taking the honours by 16-12 in the corresponding fixture last season, the fortunes of the two sides couldn’t have been any more different, with the Wolves making the Grand Final while the Rhinos fought for their Super League place in the middle eights.

While the watchword for Warrington was continuity, with the odd well-chosen new signing to their squad, the Rhinos had big personel changes in terms as playing staff, as well as ex-player Dave Furner taking over as head coach.

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Nothing warms the cockles of ones heart like the prospect of a Hull derby on one of the coldest nights of the year. A KCOM Craven Park, packed to the gills with the colours of the Robins and the Airlie Birds was raucous with anticipation of the season opener.

Both sides had disappointing 2018 seasons, Hull KR battling it out for survival in the middle eights and Hull FC losing their last eleven games, and had reshaped their squads over the winter. The visitors were the favourites but with a vastly changed line-up it was Tim Sheens who were the mystery package.

The orange balls were brought out on a very firm pitch with the expectations of some snow or sleet during the eighty. While the temperatures in the stands were sub-zero, on the pitch it was likely to be red hot.

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The champions, Wigan Warriors, had a local derby against last seasons league leaders St Helens at the Totally Wicked Stadium to herald the start of the 2019 Betfred Super League season. Despite arctic conditions, the endeavours of the ground staff meant that the game was never in doubt, and the stands were packed in anticipation.

New Cherry & Whites boss Adrian Lam was dealt a blow on Wednesday when his side were docked two league points for a 2017 salary cap breach. But it was something else that he could use as motivation as a somewhat changed side looked to get their season off to a winning start.

St Helens came into the game as pre-season favourites to go all the way to Old Trafford and lift the Super League trophy, but the promise of a long season stretched out in front of both teams.

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Are you a rugby league super fan? Do you travel hundreds of miles to each game? Have you not missed a game since you were five years old? Do you own one of your favourite players unwashed playing socks? Do you have any crazy pre-game superstitions? If so, Betfred are celebrating their sponsorship of Super League and Championship rugby by looking for your story. In exchange they will give you a chance to win up to £10,000,  and be declared the rugby league Super Fan. You can nominate yourself, a friend, a partner or relative for consideration.
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It’s tomorrow.

We get started again tomorrow, as the Champions take on St Helens in the opening Super League fixture. The long wait is over and we are as giddy as a group of five years olds at a theme park. The long winter is over and the light is dawning on a new season.

We’ve had a look back at the news over the last week to pick up on stories which you might have missed to keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening inside the greatest game.

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Whatever the outcome, Challenge Cup history was being made this afternoon in the Cumbrian countryside as Millom RLFC, the oldest amateur side in the country laid out the welcome carpet for Red Star Belgrade who were making their debut in the competition.

National Converence Division Three side Millom were handed the draw of the round, in terms of interest, when they were drawn out to host a Belgrade side packed full of local Serbian players in the round one pairings.

There had been intense media attention and a decent crowd had gathered in one of the great rugby league heartlands ahead of the game.

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