RFL previews in full
Kingstone Press Championships previews
Sunday April 28
Barrow Raiders v Swinton Lions (3.00pm)
Barrow Raiders coach Darren Holt hopes to welcome back a number of players who were rested for last week’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup defeat at Halifax.
Holt said: “We had three or four blokes who’ve been carrying slight knocks, and it was an ideal opportunity to give them a rest. They should be back this week.”
He added: “I’ve seen DVDs of Swinton and I know some of the boys that play there, but the thing about them at the minute is that you don’t know what team’s going to turn out.
“We’ll prepare as best we can, but our main concentration has to be on ourselves.
“We had a couple of blips at the start of the season, losing to Doncaster and Whitehaven, but wins against York and Dewsbury have got us back on track and we want to keep that going this week.”
New signings Matt Sarsfield, Craig Harvey and Jack Cooper all look set to feature for the Lions, but Neil Holland and Ian Watson are both ruled out.
Swinton Lions coach Gary Chambers said: “Matt is an excellent line runner who defends well, and Craig will hopefully create a few things for him.”
Dewsbury Rams v Workington Town (3.00pm)
Dewsbury coach Glenn Morrison believes the Rams have ‘turned the corner’ after last week’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup defeat by Sheffield Eagles.
Morrison said: “We stuck to the game-plan in the first half and it was a near perfect half of footy.”
Morrison now hopes to develop consistency with his team selection after giving Keiran Hyde a debut last week.
He said: “Any team that’s successful has got a core of players that are there every week. That’s what we’ve got to try to build now.”
Injury hit Workington Town are “down to our last 17 players” after last week’s win over Whitehaven, according to coach Gary Charlton.
Charlton said: “There’s still improvement in us. We haven’t had a settled team this year – it’s been up and down through injuries – but we all sing off the same hymn sheet.
“I’ve seen a couple of tapes of Dewsbury and they’re a decent side. They work hard for each other, and we know every game is going to be a challenge.”
Featherstone Rovers v Halifax (3.00pm)
New signings Will Sharp and Frankie Mariano could make their Featherstone Rovers debuts for the match being billed as ‘the biggest in the Championship’ by Halifax coach Karl Harrison.
Featherstone coach Daryl Powell said: “This is a huge game for a variety of reasons. Firstly Halifax are going really well and will be rightly favourites for this game, which creates motivation for all our players.
“In addition, they have opened up a bit of a gap between us, which makes it even more crucial at this relatively early stage of the season.
“Both teams have quality all over the field and it promises to be an outstanding game of rugby league.”
Matt James (knee) is missing for Rovers, while Halifax’s Paul Handforth looks set to return to action after missing last week with a dead leg.
Ross Divorty (shoulder) and Dane Manning (ankle) face fitness tests before Karl Harrison finalises his squad.
Harrison said: “This game brings its own level of intensity. Halifax v Featherstone is the biggest game of the season in the Kingstone Press Championship.”
Hunslet Hawks v York City Knights (3.00pm)
Hunslet Hawks coach Barry Eaton will give late fitness tests to Aston Wilson (ankle) and Scott Watson (cheek) ahead of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with York City Knights.
Eaton said: “York really look like they’re a team that’s capable of challenging everyone in the competition.
“They’ve already knocked off Featherstone this year, and they’re putting a decent run together. They look like they’ll be bouncing on Sunday.”
York have doubts over Simon Brown (back) and Jack Lee (knee), but Knights coach Gary Thornton hopes to have Sam Scott and Luke Stenchion available.
Thornton, whose side have won four of their last five fixtures, said: “We want to keep winning.
“Looking at how tight the league is, you only have to lose a couple of games and you’re back in the bottom two. Consistency is the key for us.”
He added: “Hunslet have got a similar sized pitch to ours. We know how to play our pitch well, so hopefully that will help us.”
York pair Jack Aldous and Nathan Freer are both struggling with shoulder injuries.
Keighley Cougars v Sheffield Eagles (3.00pm)
Keighley Cougars could be bolstered by the return of Scott Law and Scott Leatherbarrow for Sunday’s visit of fourth-placed Sheffield Eagles.
Keighley are currently 11thin the Kingstone Press Championship, having claimed three wins from their nine league fixtures this term.
However, Cougars coach Paul March is in confident mood. March said: “This Sheffield game is a big one for us. We’ve beaten them at home for the last two years and we want to be doing that again.
“We’re full of confidence in the league and we can’t let the Warrington result dampen that. We created a lot of opportunities against a top Super League side, and hopefully we can do that against Sheffield as well.”
Eagles must adjust to life without captain Jack Howieson, who earlier this week announced his retirement from the game with immediate effect.
However, coach Mark Aston has swooped to secure the services of former Eagles prop Eddie Battye, and he could come into contention for Sunday’s visit to Cougar Park.
Aston said: “I’m delighted Eddie is back. He’s been training with us and doesn’t look out of place. He has the hunger and desire to force his way in the first team.”
Leigh Centurions v Batley Bulldogs (3.00pm)
Leigh Centurions coach Paul Rowley is battling a mounting injury crisis ahead of Sunday’s showdown with Batley Bulldogs.
Rowley said: “We’ve got seven injuries out of a squad of 21 players, and probably four of them are looking at six to eight weeks out.”
Defeat for fifth-placed Leigh would see them fall further adrift of the Kingstone Press Championship’s top four, but Rowley is more concerned with his side’s performance.
He said: “With the three points for a win, it’s quite easy to drift up or drift down the table. The picture can soon change.
“We spoke about performance last week and we performed at Wigan. We want to perform again this week, but with a different score-line.”
Ayden Faal is ruled out for Batley after being diagnosed with whooping cough, but Bulldogs coach John Kear could be boosted the return of Anthony Mullaly and Jacob Fairbank.
Whitehaven v Doncaster (3.00pm)
Whitehaven coach Dave Woods has warned his team their survival credentials will be tested in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Doncaster.
Woods said: “We do play a lot better at home and this is another game we really need to win.
“If we’re serious about wanting to stay in this league, we’ve got to come up with the goods this weekend. We set out at the start of the year and said we wanted to beat all the teams that had come up.”
Frustrated Woods insists there is more to come from his side. He said: “We’ve got some good players and when we scores tries we score some good ones, but we’ve got to be more clinical and take a lot more of our chances.”
Craig Calvert will be given a fitness test on Thursday as he bids to recover from a shoulder injury suffered in last week’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup tie against Workington.
Doncaster’s Mike Emmett is missing through suspension as coach Tony Miller aims to continue his side’s good form from last week’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup fixture at Widnes.