Castleford Tigers moved top of the infant Super League table with an impressive 28-8 victory at Hull KR, which saw Daryl Powell earn a 300th win of his coaching career.

Rovers started well and struck first at Craven Park when Ben Crooks scored his seventh try of the season after meeting Joe Keyes' cross-field kick.

The Tigers were wasteful early doors until Michael Shenton finished after Paul McShane made the initial break.

Ryan Brierley kicked a two-pointer to pull Hull back in front, but his sin-binning for a cynical and illegal block on Grant Millington preceded Cas scoring 22 unanswered points.

Danny Richardson first slotted the resulting penalty and then scored his first try for the Tigers, and James Clare finished acrobatically in the corner before Mike McKeeken finished the comeback.

The Tigers consequently top the table having played five matches, while Rovers are second bottom having won just once.

Anthony Seibold has dismissed talk of Brisbane Broncos potentially signing Newcastle Knights star Kalyn Ponga as "pie in the sky sort of stuff".

Knights chief executive Philip Gardner this week stated that the Broncos are a "bigger" threat than New Zealand Rugby as he strives to tie Ponga down to a new deal.

The 21-year-old Queensland State of Origin full-back, who has made no secret of his desire to play for the All Blacks, is contracted until the end of next year, so he will be a free agent to NRL clubs on November 1 if Newcastle cannot agree an extension.

Broncos coach Seibold rates Ponga highly, but says salary-cap restrictions would make a move for the livewire Knights man unlikely.

"If we had open slather of course I'd go for Kalyn Ponga because he's an outstanding player but every club has got a salary cap and it is not like the [English] Premier League where you can pay what you want for a player," Seibold said.

"Certainly Kalyn hasn't been in any conversation [with the Broncos]. I think any club in the competition would want someone like Kalyn in their group regardless of what position he plays.

"We certainly haven't spoken about him so I am not sure where that came from. We are guided by a salary cap, so that is pie in the sky sort of stuff."

Domestic violence charges against Wests Tigers five-eighth Josh Reynolds have been dropped.

Reynolds, 30, was charged in December over an alleged domestic violence incident.

However, the Tigers confirmed on Wednesday that charges against Reynolds had been dropped.

"This news comes as a great relief to Josh as well as our club," Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe said in a statement.

"Josh has carried himself extremely well throughout what has no doubt been a very stressful time for him and his family, and we look forward to him continuing to play a key role for this club on and off the field in the years to come."

Reynolds, a former New South Wales representative, made seven appearances in 2019 after joining the Tigers from Canterbury Bulldogs the previous year.

The Tigers begin their 2020 season against St George Illawarra Dragons on March 15.

Hurricanes and New Zealand back-row Ardie Savea has spoken of his desire to play in the NRL and could switch codes as early as next year.

The 26-year-old is sidelined with a knee injury after undergoing surgery.

Savea, capped 44 times by the All Blacks, is contracted to New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2021 and pulled out of a deal to join Top 14 side Pau after the Rugby World Cup last year.

The flanker says a switch to rugby league was on his mind before he was injured during the World Cup.

Asked if he wants to play in the 13-a-side format, he told the Ice Project podcast: "100 per cent.

"I just think they [the players] do a lot more in terms of off the field stuff than New Zealand. And also, just a new challenge. I want to test myself.

“Learning a whole new game and seeing if I can dominate or play the way I play in union and if I can do that in league. That excites me.

"Seeing guys like Sonny [Bill Willians] do it and the way that has benefited him. It kind of plays on my mind a bit.

"It sucks that I got this injury because I was low key thinking about it [a code switch] for next year."

Savea has already given some thought to which team he would fancy joining.

"Strategically I would want to go to a team that was good or dominating, like the Melbourne Storm or the [Sydney] Roosters." he added.

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.

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