Thunder set for fifth Super League friendly

Leeds Rhinos are the visitors to Kingston Park Stadium this weekend, as Thunder continue their tradition of taking on a side from a Betfred Super League club as part of pre-season.

The final home friendly of the winter, Sunday’s 3pm kick off will see the Rhinos become the fifth club in succession to take on Newcastle, with these friendlies providing a crowd-pulling and entertaining afternoon in the past.

It was a chain that started back in 2016 when Widnes Vikings, under Thunder’s current director of rugby Denis Betts, came with a youthful side to kick off that year’s on-field action.

Though the Vikings were comfortable winners on the day, Ali Blair and Dan Parker ensured Newcastle were on the scoresheet in what was Mick Mantelli’s first game in charge as the afternoon’s action ended with an 8-34 score-line.

In 2017, St Helens fielded a select XIII as they provided the opposition for Joe Brown’s testimonial. Facing a side that included 10 of the Betfred Super League giants’ first team squad, Thunder more than matched them for long periods throughout an even and entertaining match.

Leading 12-10 at the break, it was a Jake Spedding try early into the second half that gave the Saints a narrow 12-16 win in front of a bumper crowd as Thunder celebrated the career of their stalwart centre.

The first hit out for Thunder in 2018 saw Jason Payne’s side show plenty of heart and tenacity against a strong Castleford Tigers side in front of 1,022 spectators.

Fielding a starting 13 with no fewer than eleven first team players, Castleford led 0 – 24 and ultimately won 6-42, but Thunder have a good account throughout.

With 10 minutes to go, Liam McAvoy ran a hard line onto a well-timed pass from Evan Simons to crash through the cover tackles to get his team onto the scoreboard, before Tom Shaw added the extras.

Taking on Wakefield Trinity last season, Thunder got their pre-season off to a fantastic start with a 16-6 win.

Showing true class in their performance, Thunder led 16-0 at half time through a brace of tries for Alex Clegg and a breakaway score for Lewis Young.

As the game developed Thunder looked to be in complete control until a spill of the ball on Wakefield’s line was capitalised by Connor Bailey, who ran the full 100 meters to get Wakefield on the scoreboard. 

Luke Hooley converted and the momentum started to swing Wakefield’s way, but the hosts showed their strength of character and held firm until the final whistle as the game remained without any further scores.

Sunday’s game is included on all premier season tickets and any standard season tickets purchased by December 6th

Single match tickets are available up until kick off, with full prices with advanced purchase offering a £5 per ticket saving for adults and concessions.

Full prices for this match are £15 for adults, £13 for concessions and £3 for Under 16s, with advanced purchase available by clicking here or calling 0871 2266060 by 16:00 on Saturday 25 January.

Get in the mood for Saturday before booking your tickets and have a look back at last January’s match with Wakefield, by clicking on the video below.