Free-to-use Kingstone Press Championships previews
Sunday 2 May
Kingstone Press Championship
Batley Bulldogs v Whitehaven (2.00pm)
Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear has promised his side will do everything possible to bounce back from their 43-10 defeat against Dewsbury Rams.
Kear said: “It won’t be pretty, but it will be back to basics; it will be elbows and knees and real muck and nettles stuff.”
But Whitehaven coach Dave Woods is equally determined to recover some form after watching his side lose 34-0 against North Wales Crusaders last week.
Woods said: “We’re either very, very good or very, very bad. We need to find some consistency.”
He added: “Batley’s a very tough place to get a result. They’re a good side, so we need to make sure we go there and work hard.”
Tom Carr (ankle) faces a late fitness test along with Larsen Marabe (knee), while Woods expects new signing Brett Seymour to get better with time.
He said: “Brett obviously needed the run last week, but there were a couple of things there that showed what he can do.”
North Wales Crusaders v Sheffield Eagles (2.30pm)
North Wales Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths hopes that last week’s victory over Whitehaven could spark an upturn in his side’s form.
Griffiths said: “If we play in that manner, and with that application, maybe we can go on a run.
“It’s very difficult to nil a team in rugby league, so that in itself is a great achievement because Whitehaven are a very good team.
“The real Crusaders put their hands up last week, and they’ll have to do the same again this week.”
Jamie Dallimore and Andy Moulsdale face late fitness tests, but Griffiths is hopeful of having the same 17 available for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Sheffield Eagles.
Griffiths added: “We go into this with some momentum and hopefully we can catch Sheffield on the hop, but we know how good they are.
“Mark Aston is a very astute coach and he’ll have them fired up, there’s no doubt about that.”
Mitchell Stringer could return for Sheffield, but Tom Aston (broken nose) is ruled out.
Doncaster v Barrow Raiders (3.00pm)
Doncaster coach Paul Cooke insists Barrow Raiders are dangerous opponents ahead of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship fixture.
The Raiders are currently bottom of the table, having won only one of their eight league fixtures, but Cooke remains wary.
He said: “The longer they go on losing, the closer they are to that win.
“Since Bobbie (Goulding) has taken over they’ve got close, particularly in the last two games against Halifax and Featherstone, and while they’re not winning games they’re making progress. They were very unfortunate not to have taken anything from the Halifax game.
“They’re a dangerous team; they’re one of only two teams to go to Sheffield and get a victory.”
Cooke insists Doncaster are “not in too bad a shape” after last week’s defeat against Warrington Wolves, but confirmed that no injured players will return on Sunday.
Cooke said: “We’ll get a few back in the next fortnight or so. We’re not too badly off when you consider we’re going into round nine, we’ve points on the board and we’re due some to get some good players back.”
Ian Mort (hamstring) remains sidelined for the Raiders, but coach Bobbie Goulding could be boosted the availability of Dan Toal and Nathan Mossop for Sunday’s trip to south Yorkshire.
Featherstone Rovers v Leigh Centurions (3.00pm)
Featherstone Rovers coach John Bastian admits his side will be motivated by last week’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup defeat against Leigh Centurions as the two sides prepare for their second meeting in eight days.
Bastian said: “Without a doubt there’ll be some guys wanting to avenge last week. The boys are very competitive and they want to beat the top teams.
“Leigh are right up there – they’re unbeaten this year – and we realise we’ve got to be at our best on Sunday, but it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to.
“Some decision-making certainly cost us last week. You get fewer opportunities against the better teams, so when you don’t take them you pay a price.
“There’s always work to do, but I’m really pleased with how we’re progressing as a team this year.”
Matty Dale faces up to 10 weeks on the sidelines with a broken hand, while Andy Bostock (ankle) faces a late fitness test to determine his availability. Steve Crossley could return for Rovers.
Jamie Acton, Martin Aspinwall and Jake Emmitt are all available for Leigh, leaving coach Paul Rowley in an upbeat mood ahead of Sunday’s showdown.
Rowley said: “In most games we show some real moments of magic, and then we show some moments of grit and determination. We’ve got quite a few strings to our bow. We’re not one-dimensional. We’ve got a plan for every occasion.
“We’ll just keep working hard and enjoying it. We’re achieving quietly at the minute.
“We’re not falling in love with ourselves. We recognise how difficult our opposition is every week, and we’re just fighting hard to get everything out of every game we can.”
Keighley Cougars v Dewsbury Rams (3.00pm)
Keighley Cougars coach Paul March has warned his players to prepare for a “make or break” month that will define the Cougars’ season.
Keighley’s match against Dewsbury Rams is the start of a run of five games – four of which are at Cougar Park – that March believes will have a huge impact on his side’s chances of making the play-offs.
March said: “These next few games will make or break our year. We’re up against teams around us in the league table and they’ll be high-pressure games.”
James Haley returns for the Cougars in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Dewsbury.
Ash Lindsay and James Feather are both closing in on a return to action, but Elliott Cosgrove faces eight weeks on the sidelines with an eye injury.
March said: “Dewsbury have signed some quality, experienced players. They’ve started the season well, and they’re a bit like us with being a little bit inconsistent, but I’m sure Glenn Morrison will have them ready for this week’s match.”
Fifth-placed Dewsbury are aiming to follow up their 43-10 victory over Batley Bulldogs with a sixth win in nine league fixtures this year.
Morrison said: “We need to be able to get up for every game we play, no matter where they (the opposition) are in the table.”
Rochdale Hornets v Swinton Lions (3.00pm)
In-form Rochdale Hornets prepare for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Swinton Lions buoyed by winning three of their last four league fixtures.
Ian Talbot’s side has beaten Batley Bulldogs, Whitehaven and North Wales Crusaders in that period.
Talbot said: “The last game against North Wales was very satisfying for us given the rivalry that’s built up.
“We are finding our feet at this level, but it’s going to get tougher from here. Maybe a few teams have underestimated us up to now, but I can’t see that happening now.
We’ve a few results that have turned heads.”
He added: “Swinton will be looking at this as a must-win game. If we get the win it puts us four points above them, so it’s a big game for both teams.”
Gareth Langley will be assessed before Sunday’s match after what was initially thought to be a rib injury was discovered to be a bruised lung.
Alex Trumper (knee) and Dave Llewellyn (ankle) will not be ready for Sunday, but John Cookson could feature.
Swinton coach Ian Watson looks set to be boosted by the return of Josh Barlow, but Mick Nanyn and Danny Halliwell are both ruled out.
The Lions are also without Zach Johsnon, who was given a one-match suspension by the RFL’s disciplinary panel after being found guilty of punching in the Lions’ recent match against Leigh Centurions, but former Hunslet centre Steve Lewis could come into contention.
Workington Town v Halifax (3.00pm)
Workington Town coach Phil Veivers will check on Peter Lupton (hamstring), Karl Olstrum (hip), Jarrad Stack (hamstring) and Kayle Connor (thigh) before deciding his team to face Halifax in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship fixture.
Veivers said: “The weekend off came at a good time with all those injuries.”
Town are currently in tenth place in the Kingstone Press Championship, having lost their last four league fixtures.
But they are only one point behind eighth-placed Keighley Cougars and would be likely to climb the table if they secure a win on Sunday.
Fourth-placed Halifax are six points adrift of leaders Leigh Centurions, but have won four of their last five league matches.
Adam Robinson remains sidelined, but coach Karl Harrison is hopeful the former Dewsbury player will be able to return to action later this month.
Harrison must make further changes to his team after Tony Tonks received a one-match ban for punching.
Kingstone Press Championship One
South Wales Scorpions v Gateshead Thunder (1.00pm)
South Wales Scorpions coach Mike Grady is hoping to confirm up to four loan signings before Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship One match against Gateshead Thunder.
Grady is battling against a mounting injury list as he searches for the Scorpions’ first league win of the year.
Dai Hellard, Matty Wilcox and Shaun Owens are all ruled out, while Jack Pring is battling to overcome tonsillitis and Barrie Phillips is suspended.
Grady’s only relief is the return of Ash Bateman.
Grady said: “We’re playing well in patches, but we need to work on building those patches into longer periods.
“I’ve watched Gateshead on video, but I’m more about looking after ourselves.
“They’ve signed Jamie Rooney and we know what he’s about; he’s someone we’ve got to close down because he’s got a great kicking game and fantastic experience.
“It’s a long trip down here from the north east, and hopefully we can turn that advantage into a good performance.”
Former Wakefield star Rooney looks set to make his Thunder debut.
Rooney said: “I’ve been missing the game. Hopefully I can help Gateshead get promotion as well as bringing on the young lads.”
Gloucestershire All Golds v Hemel Stags (3.00pm)
Gloucestershire All Golds coach Brad Hepi will be hoping for a change of fortune in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship One match against Hemel Stags.
The All Golds started with two wins from their first three league fixtures, but haven’t won since the end of March when they beat Gateshead Thunder.
And Hemel have been dealt a major blow with the news that Mitchell Barbara faces an extended spell on the sidelines after breaking his ankle against London Skolars.
Barbara is out for a minimum of three months and could miss the rest of the season.
Stags coach Troy Perkins said: “It’s a blow, but Ben Young will slot into where Mitchell was.
“We beat ourselves against London, and we want to put that right this week.”
Hemel duo Ciaren Clement-Pascal (shoulder) and Ben Thorburn (knee) are also ruled out for a match Perkins expects to be extremely challenging.
Perkins said: “I’m expecting a really tough game. Last year they were a decent team, and this year they’ve improved. They’ve brought in some more experienced players that get them around the field a bit better, and they’ve also got a bigger pack than last year.
“I watched their game against Oxford and they were really competitive, so we know what we’re up against.”
Oldham v Oxford (3.00pm)
Oldham coach Scott Naylor could hand a debut to new loan signing Steve Roper after the Rochdale Hornets half-back agreed a one-month deal.
Naylor said: “Half-back is a position in which we have not been at our best this season, so by bringing in an experienced man I’m giving myself options and putting pressure on the others.”
Oldham trio Mark Hobson, David Cookson and Steven Nield are all believed to be pushing for a place after playing in the club’s recent under-20s fixture against Sheffield Eagles.
But there will be no Whitebank Stadium return for former Oldham player Valu Bentley, who faces another fortnight on the sidelines along with Oxford team-mates Glen Osborn and Sean Morris.
Oxford coach Tony Benson said: “We’ve got a bit of confidence at the moment. We’ve had two wins and we’re starting to form some good habits.”
He added: “We’re certainly a better team than we were last year, but to continue to be that we’ve got to focus on ourselves.
“We don’t look too much at the opposition; we’re trying to establish our game and play to our strengths.
“You can get misguided by trying to fit to the opposition too much. We really do work hard on our game, and if it’s good enough, it’s good enough.”
York City Knights v London Skolars (3.00pm)
York City Knights quartet Greg Minikin, James Ford, Iain Morrison and Jason Golden are all battling for selection in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship One fixture against London Skolars.
Only Austin Bell (knee) is ruled out for the hosts, while Skolars coach Joe Mbu expects to name a similar team to the one that beat Hemel Stags a fortnight ago.
Mbu said: “We should take some confidence from the Hemel game; the boys showed a lot of fight and spirit to get that win.”
He added: “The boys had last week off and we benefitted from that. We trained on Tuesday and everybody looked fresh and ready to go again.
“You could tell they’d missed the game because they were knocking seven bells out of each other, and that’s good to see.”
The Knights will start as favourites to win Sunday’s clash, but Mbu is confident his side are capable of causing an upset.
He said: “In a sporting game, there’s no guarantee. As soon as you fool yourself that you’ll beat the opposition hands down, that’s when they come back and get you.
“It puts a different element of pressure on those types of teams. I’m quite happy that we can just go about doing what we need to do and fly under the radar.”