Bevan French continued his excellent start to the Super League season and Dom Manfredi scored on his return from a 10-month injury lay-off as Wigan Warriors laid down a marker by beating Hull FC 26-12 at the DW Stadium.

French - Wigan's stand-out player in the early weeks of the campaign - scored his side's opening try on Sunday before Hull hit back to level the score at 8-8.

After Zak Hardaker's penalty had edged the Warriors ahead once again, French turned provider early in the second half, the half-back's lovely pass helping Manfredi to score on his first start since he suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage last April.

Hull, who lost to St Helens last time out, were ultimately well-beaten as Jackson Hastings and Willie Isa added further touchdowns for the hosts.

The visitors' initial four-pointer came courtesy of former Saints wing Adam Swift, who combined with Josh Griffin for an eye-catching length-of-the-field effort. 

Griffin, who was sent to the sin bin along with Wigan's Liam Farrell following a first-half scuffle, rounded off the scoring late on, but by that stage Hull's hopes of victory had evaporated.

 

Sydney Roosters have won the World Club Challenge for a record fifth time thanks to a hard-fought 20-12 victory over St Helens.

The back-to-back NRL champions defeated Wigan Warriors in the 2019 one-off fixture and, despite falling behind against Saints on Saturday, once again came out on top against their Super League counterparts.

Luke Thompson – who will head to Australia after the season to join the Canterbury Bulldogs – opened the scoring when he crashed over from Theo Fages' pass for a converted try.

The Dragons roared back, however, with Daniel Tupou hanging on to a low pass by his boots before waltzing over the line on his side's left flank.

Joseph Manu put the visitors in front when he touched down on the opposite side of the field for his first of the game, diving over as Saints were caught short of numbers out wide.

Kyle Flanagan – making his debut for the Roosters – hit the posts with both conversion attempts, making it 8-6 at the half-time interval.

Saints had opportunities to hit back after the break, wing Tommy Makinson ruled to have knocked on as he attempted to score under pressure.

Instead it was the Roosters who crucially scored next, Manu grabbing his second try. Luke Keary then provided the finish following Siosiua Taukeiaho's initial break from inside his own half, putting the game beyond St Helens.

Alex Walmsley did plunge over for a late consolation score, Makinson adding the extras, but Sydney held on to retain the trophy and maintain their 100 per cent record in the annual competition.

Leeds Rhinos recovered from a poor start to claim a second consecutive Super League victory with a 22-8 success at Salford Red Devils.

The Rhinos thrashed Hull KR on Valentine's Day but initially struggled to carry momentum from that match into Saturday's clash at AJ Bell Stadium.

Salford were 8-0 ahead after Niall Evalds and Tuimoala Lolohea crossed for tries in the 20th and 27th minutes.

But Luke Gale crucially crossed on the stroke of half-time to give Leeds a foothold.

And the game turned in the space of five second-half minutes as Mikolaj Oledzki followed Luke Briscoe in scoring to give the visitors the lead for the first time.

There was no way back for Salford and Jack Walker's try nine minutes from time sealed victory for Leeds.

Castleford Tigers retained the bragging rights in their local derby with Wakefield Trinity as they claimed a 32-15 victory in Super League on Friday.

Aiming to end a 13-match losing streak in competitive matches against the Tigers, Trinity started brightly and, despite handing Castleford a way back into the match, took a 15-14 lead into the break thanks to Tom Johnstone's excellent try and Jacob Miller's drop-goal.

But Trinity were brushed aside early in the second half after James Batchelor was sin-binned – Castleford running in three tries in the space of 13 minutes to wrap up the points.

Warrington Wolves bounced back from their defeat at Wakefield as they overcame a second-half scare to beat lowly Toronto Wolfpack 32-22.

Gareth Widdop scored his first try for Warrington as the Wolves took control, but Jon Wilkin and Andy Ackers struck back for injury-hit Toronto before half-time.

The comeback looked on when Matty Russell and Gareth O'Brien combined to restore parity, only for Ben Murdoch-Masila's try to move Warrington clear in the closing stages.

Elsewhere, Huddersfield Giants moved top of the table as they made it three wins from three with a convincing 22-4 away triumph over Hull Kingston Rovers.

Louis Senior and Lee Gaskell put Huddersfield 10-0 up in the first half, with the Giants – despite losing James Gavet to injury – moving further ahead through Paul Clough and Suaia Matagi before Ben Crooks grabbed a consolation for Rovers.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs confirmed Jason Demetriou had agreed to a contract extension that is set to see him succeed Wayne Bennett as head coach in 2022.

Bennett joined the Rabbitohs ahead of last season, leading them to the preliminary finals before a loss to the Canberra Raiders.

The 70-year-old will see out his contract, which runs until the end of 2021, with South Sydney, with Demetriou set to take over.

"The South Sydney Rabbitohs have confirmed that current assistant coach Jason Demetriou has agreed to terms on a contract extension with the South Sydney Rabbitohs with a view to succeeding Wayne Bennett as head coach of the club post the 2021 season, a plan which has been in place since coach Bennett's appointment at the club," a Rabbitohs statement read on Friday.

"Coach Bennett is contracted to the Rabbitohs until the end of the 2021 season with Demetriou lined up to take over the head coach role for the pre-season preparations leading into season 2022.

"The club will maintain its focus on the 2020 and 2021 seasons under coach Bennett and preparing for next Saturday's pre-season feature match, the 37th Charity Shield against the St George Illawarra Dragons at Glen Willow Stadium in Mudgee."

Demetriou, 44, followed Bennett – who was sacked as England coach earlier this month – to the Rabbitohs from the Brisbane Broncos ahead of 2019.

South Sydney will begin their 2020 season against the Cronulla Sharks on March 14.

Catalans Dragons insist a rainbow flag was only ordered to be removed at their match against Castleford Tigers as it was covering advertising boards, although the Rugby Football League (RFL) is taking time to investigate.

There were reports of rainbow flags, a representative symbol of LGBT pride, being taken down following Israel Folau's Catalans debut.

Former union star Folau was playing for the first time since he was sacked by Rugby Australia (RA) last May for posting homophobic comments on social media.

The Dragons say they have analysed footage of the incident and have offered an explanation, adamant pro-LGBT banners are welcome at their stadium.

"Catalans Dragons are happy to confirm that supporters flags are welcome in all the stands at Gilbert Brutus Stadium," a statement read.

"We noted the complaints of certain Castleford supporters but, having reviewed the CCTV footage and numerous photos in the media, we can confirm that supporters were able to display their flags and colours throughout.

"However, it is important that flags and banners do not cover advertising boards. Stadium security staff are briefed to ensure that advertising boards are kept clear throughout the game.

"The investigation found that one person was asked to remove a flag because it was covering an advertising board. 

"The only banners and flags forbidden in our stadium and other sports stadia would be those which are insulting or inciting violence.

"We can confirm that no such incidents were reported on Saturday during our match against Castleford."

However, the RFL is not yet closing the case.

A short statement read: "We thank Catalans Dragons for instigating their own investigation, but we will need time to consider all the available evidence before reaching any conclusions."

Folau scored an early try on his first rugby league outing since 2010, helping Catalans defeat Castleford 36-18 in Perpignan on Saturday.

Hull FC's winning start to the Super League season came grinding to a halt in a 32-18 home defeat to St Helens, while Wakefield Trinity picked up their first win of the campaign at the expense of Warrington Wolves.

Saints trailed 6-2 by half-time at KC Stadium courtesy of Carlos Tuimavave scoring a try against the run of play before Marc Sneyd converted, but the visitors stormed into the lead within 10 minutes of the restart as Matthew Costello and Luke Thompson went over in quick succession.

Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, James Bentley and Aaron Smith added further scores in a blistering second-half performance from Kristian Woolf's side that rendered tries from Hull's Tuimavave and Jamie Shaul irrelevant as Saints replaced their hosts at the top of the table.

Wakefield's season began with a disappointing defeat at Hull KR but Chris Chester's men bounced back with a home win over Warrington, who led 2-0 at the break after Stefan Ratchford's 38th-minute penalty.

Ryan Hampshire gave Trinity the lead with three well-taken penalties after the restart, and although Ratchford went over and converted to restore Warrington's lead, the game hinged on two minutes that saw Matty Ashurst and Tom Johnstone steam in for tries that Hampshire converted.

The result leaves both sides with two points from their opening trio of games ahead of Trinity's trip to Castleford Tigers and Warrington's clash with struggling Toronto Wolfpack on Friday.

Super League is investigating a claim from a Castleford Tigers fan that they were asked to remove a rainbow flag during Israel Folau's debut for Catalans Dragons.

Folau scored an early try on his first rugby league outing since 2010, helping the Dragons defeat Castleford 36-18 in Perpignan on Saturday.

It was Folau's first appearance since he was sacked by Rugby Australia (RA) last May for posting homophobic comments on social media.

A Tigers supporter at the venue revealed on Twitter they had been told they were not allowed a rainbow flag, which represents a symbol of LGBT pride.

A widely reported Super League statement read: "Everyone should have the right to respectfully express their views. We are investigating.

"We will receive a full report by the end of this weekend and have more details on Monday."

A Dragons spokesperson added: "Rainbow flags are not banned at our club. It is not forbidden. We are gathering more information about what happened."

Catalans' signing of Folau sparked plenty of controversy and Super League clubs voted to have "greater authority to stop controversial signings" earlier this month.

Folau reached a financial settlement with RA in December before switching codes to pen a one-year deal with the Dragons.

Catalans head coach Steve McNamara praised the player for handling the scrutiny surrounding him on debut.

"Well I've just congratulated him on that [media scrutiny] downstairs because it is different," he said. 

"It is different for this area, this region to have journalists from around the world chasing players around in cars and following people. 

"All the other bits that go with it, for the players to deal with that and come up with a performance like that is a credit to them.

"For him to play his first game of rugby league and only train for 10 days with the team in total, to come up with that sort of defensive performance really gives us encouragement going forward with him.

"I knew he was ready to play. I said I wouldn't risk him if he wasn't. There was no way we were going to do that just because it was a home game."

Israel Folau scored a try six minutes into his Super League debut and the outstanding Sam Tomkins grabbed a hat-trick as Catalans Dragons beat Castleford Tigers 36-18 on Saturday.

All eyes were on Folau in his first rugby league match for a decade after he switched codes last month to make a controversial move to Perpignan.

Folau said he considered retirement after being sacked by Rugby Australia last May for posting homophobic comments on social media before joining Catalans in January.

The dual-code international, starting at centre, made up for lost time by rising to take a high kick from James Maloney and dotting down after Tomkins had already opened the scoring at Stade Gilbert Brutus.

Folau showed his strength in the air, holding another up-and-under following a juggling act, but came down just short of the line as Catalans continued to show plenty of attacking threat.

Samisoni Langi touched down for a third Dragons try, which Maloney converted, but tries from Derrell Olpherts and Cheyse Blair meant the Tigers were very much in it when trailing 20-12 at half-time.

Castleford were unable to contain Tomkins, though, the livewire full-back finishing nine minutes into the second half before darting inside to seal his treble towards the end of the contest.

Fouad Yaha also went over for Steve McNamara's men and Folau lasted the distance, showing some eye-catching touches in a promising start to his return to the 13-a-side format.

However, the 30-year-old will know he may not be in for such a warm welcome when Catalans travel to face Hull FC in their next outing.

Israel Folau made up for lost time by scoring a try just six minutes into his Catalans Dragons debut in the Super League clash with Castleford Tigers.

Folau said he considered retirement after being sacked by Rugby Australia last May for posting homophobic comments on social media before switching codes to join Catalans in January.

The dual-code international - who settled a legal dispute with Rugby Australia over his dismissal in December - had to wait for his Catalans bow, but made a quick impact after his controversial move was ratified by the Rugby Football League.

Folau got on the end of an up and under to touch down in the corner early on at Stade Gilbert Brutus after Sam Tomkins had put Catalans in front with a try just three minutes in on Saturday.

The 30-year-old started at centre in his first rugby league match for a decade. 

Israel Folau will make his Catalans Dragons debut in the Super League encounter with Castleford Tigers on Saturday.

The dual-code international joined Catalans in January after being sacked by Rugby Australia last May.

Folau had his contract terminated for a "high-level breach" after he posted that hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" on Instagram. He had been warned over previous online posts in 2018.

The 30-year-old - who settled a legal dispute with Rugby Australia over his dismissal in December - had to wait for his Catalans bow after his move to Perpignan was ratified by the Rugby Football League.

However, he is selected at centre for the fixture against the Tigers at Stade Gilbert Brutus.

Aidan Sezer was the hero for Huddersfield Giants at Salford Red Devils, while Leeds Rhinos emphatically recorded their first Super League win of the season on Friday.

Huddersfield made it two victories from two at the start of 2020 thanks to Sezer, who slotted over a penalty in the 78th minute to make it 12-10 to the visitors at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Both teams had scored two tries apiece in a closely fought contest, Louis Senior and Adam O'Brien touching down for the Giants.

Salford, beaten in last season's Grand Final by St Helens, saw Dan Sarginson and Ken Sio reach the line, with the former going close to a second in a dramatic finish, only for Huddersfield to hold on to their slender lead.

Leeds - who had been due to face Huddersfield in round two, only for the Yorkshire derby to be postponed due to Storm Ciara - hammered Hull Kingston Rovers 50-12 at Headingley.

Harry Newman and Cameron Smith scored two tries apiece for the Rhinos, while Luke Gale was successful with eight of his 10 attempts at goal.

 

Toronto Wolfpack's wait for a first Super League win goes on, but their heavily depleted side matched Wigan for almost an hour before the Warriors surged clear to claim a 32-10 victory.

Already desperately short of players, having so far failed to gain dispensation to add to their thin squad, the Wolfpack had to cope without marquee signing Sonny Bill Williams on Thursday, the New Zealander having returned home for the birth of his fourth child.

To make matters worse for Toronto, Jon Wilkin was forced to pull out through injury shortly before kick-off, while James Cunningham and Gadwin Springer sustained injuries in the game that prematurely ended their participation.

Brian McDermott's side nevertheless threatened to pull off a significant shock, but the Warriors eventually punished an understandably tiring defence, with Bevan French and Liam Farrell to the fore.

Toronto completed at 100 per cent in the first quarter and moved ahead through former Wigan back Matty Russell, before tries from Harry Smith and French, who glided on to a smart inside pass from Farrell, earned the Warriors a 10-4 lead at the interval.

The Wolfpack deservedly pulled level when Gareth O'Brien's excellent half-break and offload put Bodene Thompson over for a score Blake Wallace converted.

However, a decisive moment followed when French ruthlessly punished a heavy kick from Josh McCrone. After catching the ball in his in-goal area, French raced to the 20-metre line for a quick restart and found Jackson Hastings, who duly released Joe Burgess to streak down the left and score.

French scored a second try of his own soon after, effectively ending the game as a contest, and Farrell rubbed salt in Toronto's wounds with two late tries after Hakim Miloudi had been sin-binned for a high shot that brought a premature end to Sean O'Loughlin's 400th Super League appearance.

 

Mark Percival has committed his future to St Helens until the end of the 2024 Super League season.

The England centre, who joined Saints as a 14-year-old, has scored 88 tries and kicked 225 points in 158 appearances.

Percival, who made his first-team debut against Leeds Rhinos in 2013, was among the try scorers as Saints defeated Salford Red Devils to win the Grand Final last season.

"I am over the moon. I have loved being at this club since I joined at the age of 14," Percival, who scored 12 tries in 26 appearances last season, told Saints' official website.

"Leaving has never really come into my mind and to be offered a five-year deal, I am buzzing."

Percival, who also won the 2014 Grand Final with Saints, is set to miss the next few weeks having injured his shoulder and sternum in the 19-0 loss to Warrington Wolves last time out.

Head coach Kristian Woolf added: "I'm delighted Mark has signed a new deal with us. He's as tough as they come and although only in his mid-twenties, is a player with a vast amount of experience.

"Having won two Grand Finals he clearly knows how to win and that is hugely beneficial to our group and the younger players. 

"We will miss Percy over the coming weeks given his injury, but when he is back fit, I have no doubt he will continue to be an important player for us over the coming years."

Israel Folau would be welcomed into the Tonga team provided he cuts out "crazy" social media posts, Andrew Fifita has said.

The dual-code Australia international last year indicated his ambition to play for Tonga, with his parents both hailing from the South Pacific archipelago.

His strong religious views have caused controversy, and Folau recently signed for Catalans Dragons who warned they would not tolerate the 30-year-old making any further incendiary comments.

Folau provoked fury within and beyond the LGBT+ community last April when he wrote on Instagram that "hell awaits" gay people, in a post that has not been deleted.

He was sacked by Rugby Australia and later took the national body to court, before stepping away from rugby union and returning to rugby league, the code in which he began his career.

Cronulla Sharks star Fifita is determined to keep an open mind and says Folau could play a part with coach Kristian Woolf's squad, if he keeps his views private.

"I don't agree with some of the terms he's come out with and said, but football is football and, mate, I've done a lot of things in my past and I know all can be forgiven," said Fifita, quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald.

"He can't come out with those crazy posts again. I'm all for God as well but in saying that, everyone in life deserves to be happy.

"When we're talking about gays and lesbians … I got family who are gay and they've got the right to be happy.

"If he has a really good year, the international jersey will be waiting for him."

Woolf has previously said he would consider Folau, should he impress with Catalans.

Folau has yet to make his debut for the French side but has been named in the squad to face Castleford Tigers in Super League on Saturday.

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