Gareth Widdop shines as eight-try Warrington hammer hapless Leigh

  • Warrington 44-12 Leigh
  • Leigh remain winless since returning to Super League

Gareth Widdop produced his best performance in a Warrington shirt as he and his Wolves teammates eased pressure on the coach, Steve Price, with a dominant victory against the newly promoted Leigh Centurions.

It may seem far-fetched to suggest any coach is under pressure only a fortnight into the season, but after a disappointing end to 2020, and a worrying defeat to Castleford last weekend, another loss here would have put Price, who has announced he is leaving at the end of the season, under further scrutiny.

Related: Super League: Wigan and St Helens continue winning starts in style

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Zak Hardaker and Jake Bibby inspire ruthless Wigan to see off Wakefield

  • Wigan 34-6 Wakefield
  • Bibby hat-trick helps Warriors seal back-to-back wins

The Super League season is barely a fortnight old and there are already some familiar trends developing. Throughout large periods of 2020 Wigan Warriors were far from their best, yet in the end they found themselves top of the table and in the Grand Final. History has proved that when the chips are down, they know how to get the job done.

Related: Spring into Super League: late start will create season spectacular | Aaron Bower

Related: Super League 2021: team-by-team guide to the new season | Aaron Bower

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A tale of big cities: the battle for promotion to Super League begins

The rugby league Championship kicks off this weekend, with Toulouse expected to win a division packed with big-city clubs

By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required

So, a quarter of a century after they launched Super League, Rupert Murdoch and Maurice Lindsay finally have the big city league they dreamed of. The league they first proposed included teams from London, Manchester, Bradford, Toulouse and Sheffield, as well as Cumbria and Halifax. Well, all of them kick off their 2021 league campaign over the Easter weekend. Sadly for the game’s expansionists, these teams are not competing alongside Leeds, Wigan, Hull, St Helens and Warrington in Super League as planned, but in the Championship.

It is perhaps typical of rugby league that the competition with the most clubs from England’s biggest cities is the second division. The Championship contains teams from nine of the 14 originally proposed Super League franchises, compared with just seven in Super League 2021. Even when the dust settled on a wild west scrap that would have been the envy of Sergio Leone, the final line-up for 1996’s launch included as many clubs now in the Championship as there are in the top tier. Lindsay also planned for a Newcastle club (and one from Cardiff) to enter Super League in 1997.

Related: Super League transfers: new signings who could shape the season

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Lomax leads way as St Helens make light work of Salford in season opener

  • St Helens 29-6 Salford
  • Champions score five tries as they begin defence of their title

St Helens began their quest for a third successive Super League title with a straightforward victory against Salford Red Devils. The reigning champions were comfortable winners on the opening night of the new season, delivering a performance with all the hallmarks we have come to expect from Kristian Woolf’s side in recent years.

They scored five tries to Salford’s one in a dominant display, as Richard Marshall’s first game in charge of the Red Devils ended with a comprehensive defeat. However, with almost a dozen new players arriving at the club in the off-season, coupled with Marshall’s appointment as head coach, it will be a while until Salford are able to fully click.

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Spring into Super League: late start will create season spectacular | Aaron Bower

Super League has a chance to go hell for leather from the off with firmer pitches and fitter players after a longer pre-season

There is a long-running joke in rugby league that the only thing you can really predict with any certainty is sheer unpredictability. Never was that more evident than in 2020, as Super League finished a season many felt would be impossible to restart because of Covid-19 in the most spectacular way possible, with St Helens’ last-gasp Grand Final victory against Wigan. Oh, and throw in the ignominious expulsion of Toronto Wolfpack, and £28m in game-saving government loans, too.

So just another typical year, then: followed by a typical off-season. Hours before the new season starts on Friday, there were boardroom developments hogging the headlines again, when the Huddersfield owner, Ken Davy, was confirmed as the interim chairman of Super League while a permanent successor to Robert Elstone is found.

Related: Super League 2021: team-by-team guide to the new season | Aaron Bower

Related: Could Leeds Rhinos' mouthguards help reduce the risk of concussion?

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Could Leeds Rhinos’ mouthguards help reduce the risk of concussion?

Collisions will be measured through smart gumshields and the in-game data will help inform decisions about potential injury

Leeds Rhinos have long been regarded as one of rugby league’s most forward-thinking clubs and when they take to the field for their Super League opener against Wakefield on Saturday, their players will again be at the forefront of a new movement, this time in the sport’s battle to further understand the impacts of concussion.

Concussion has never been higher on the sporting agenda. League, like union, is subject to a potential legal challenge from former players who are showing symptoms of dementia. The issue was again brought into the spotlight in January when the former Leeds captain, Stevie Ward, retired at 27 because of persistent symptoms relating to in-game concussions.

Related: Super League 2021: team-by-team guide to the new season | Aaron Bower

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