BBC BLOGS - George Riley

Archives for September 2011

Dragons confident of play-off upset

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George Riley George Riley | 11:26 UK time, Friday, 23 September 2011

Catalan Dragons winger Damien Blanch oozed confidence, class and charisma before his team embarked upon another lengthy journey he hopes can end at Old Trafford.

There were no signs of nerves ahead of facing defending Super League champions Wigan in their own backyard, no sign of frustration at an unnecessarily messy journey to arrive there, and no sign of a player and team just in the play-offs to make up the numbers.

The Warriors know that they have a job on to revive their own title defence. The Dragons believe they can produce their best performance of the season to knock the champions out.

Despite running in 100 points in their last two games, the free-flowing French side remain huge underdogs, even given Wigan's own post-Challenge Cup final lull.

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So, now the fun starts!

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George Riley George Riley | 13:32 UK time, Friday, 16 September 2011

After 27 rounds of blood and thunder, we're down to knockout rugby league to determine which two sets of gladiators will square up at Old Trafford.

Of course it's a bit more complicated than that but I think the first weekend of fixtures will give us a very strong indication of who will go on to win that Grand Final and lift the Super League title.

With all due respect to Catalan Dragons and Hull KR, League Leaders Warrington and fourth-placed Huddersfield, it is the Wigan v Saints derby and Leeds v Hull FC eliminator that get my adrenalin pumping.

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Why boo our best and brightest?

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George Riley George Riley | 12:13 UK time, Friday, 2 September 2011

Why do sports fans take such pleasure in jeering their most feared adversaries?

It's a topic I've been arguing about with fans on Twitter for weeks in the face of escalating abuse towards Sam Tomkins. The outstanding young Wigan and England full-back did himself no favours with an ill-advised gesture at Wembley but does he deserve the flak he has been getting?

Sean Long, Lee Briers and now Tomkins. Three brilliant players, all hated by opposition fans. Frighteningly good players whom the sport should be proudly promoting but who are instead booed and heckled at away grounds as much as they are idolised on home soil.

So do they deserve it? Is Tomkins rightly being barracked by fans, some of whom perceive him as a niggly, petulant, arrogant rule bender? Or is he targeted because rival fans fear him. Is it jealousy, pure and simple?

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