St Helens start with Dragons clash

Published: Sunday 19th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Super League champions St Helens will launch their title defence against Catalans Dragons, who were their last opponents at Langtree Park in 2014.

The Dragons’ brave play-off run came crashing to a halt with a 30-12 semi-final defeat at Saints earlier this month and they will have their chance for revenge in the opening round of the new season on Friday, February 6.

Grand Final runners-up Wigan will kick off the new 12-team competition at Widnes 24 hours earlier in the first of a series of regular Thursday televised matches while in other opening round fixtures there is a Castleford-Wakefield derby, Huddersfield host Hull, Leeds go to Hull KR and Warrington are at home to Salford.

The first Grand Final rematch will be at the DW Stadium on Good Friday, with the teams playing the return fixture on June 12.

Wigan forward Ben Flower, who was sent off in the third minute of his side’s 14-6 defeat by Saints at Old Trafford earlier this month for punching Lance Hohaia, will miss the first rematch as part of his six-month suspension.

Flower must sit out the first 10 rounds of Super League, in addition to two pre-season games and Wigan’s World Club Series clash with Brisbane Broncos, and could make his return against Warrington – a repeat of the 2013 Grand Final – at the DW Stadium on Thursday, April 16.

Hohaia will be free to play in Saints’ opening game of the season after serving his one-match ban, imposed for a forearm strike which provoked Flower, in pre-season.

Super League will take a break after the opening two rounds for the new World Club Series involving the two Grand Finalists and Warrington against Australian opposition and round 16 will be taken en masse to Newcastle’ St James’ Park for the Magic Weekend on the last weekend of May.

The regular season will end, after 23 fixtures, on the weekend of July 26, when Super League and the 12-team Championship will be split into three pools of eight to determine both the Super League title, via a four-team play-off, and the make up of the top division for 2016.

Super League general manager Blake Solly said: “2015 is going to be a momentous year.

“The league structure allows for changes that will bring unprecedented levels of excitement, drama and jeopardy to a game that has an unrivalled ability to deliver world-class sporting action.”

Super League’s top eight clubs from 2014 will have a bye into the sixth round of the Challenge Cup, with the other four entering the knockout competition a round earlier, and the final will be held at Wembley on August 29.

The Super League Grand Final will be at Old Trafford on October 10.

The Championship kicks off on the weekend of February 14, with relegated pair Bradford and London Broncos opening up against champions Leigh and Doncaster respectively, and reaches a climax with the final on the weekend of October 4.

Newcomers Coventry Bears will open their League 1 campaign with a home match against Oxford on April 3.

Published: Sunday 19th October 2014 by The News Editor

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