North Wales Crusaders v Rochdale Hornets (2.30pm)
Rochdale Hornets coach Ian Talbot will call on the club’s dual registration link with St Helens for the crucial trip to North Wales Crusaders, after a host of injuries.
Scrum-half Steve Roper could be out for the rest of the season with knee ligament damage, while in-form prop Warren Thompson has a leg complaint that will keep him out “for quite some time”.
Talbot also says that six or seven other players will be assessed just before the game, and with St Helens’ other partner club Whitehaven not having a game this weekend, the likes of Adam Swift, Gary Wheeler, Paul Clough and Anthony Walker could come into the reckoning.
Talbot said: “I’m going to have to use the dual registration system a little bit more than we have been doing and I’m sure that will attract criticism from some quarters.
“But it’s there to be used and our squad is like a casualty ward at the moment.
“Crusaders have been the benchmark this season so far but we’ve got to go there confident.”
North Wales coach Clive Griffiths was pleased with the improvement his side showed in winning at Gloucestershire All Golds a week after their first defeat of the season at Hemel.
“You can’t take your eye off the ball in this league and that was a vast improvement,” he said.
“We don’t know who we will be facing this weekend, but you can look at that in two ways – and it will be a good challenge for our boys.
“There is a bit of daylight between the teams and if we win that will put huge pressure on Rochdale – if we don’t win we will still be at the top with it in our hands.”
Crusaders are without Owain Griffiths, who has linked up with Wales Students ahead of their World Cup.
Gateshead Thunder v Oldham (3.00pm)
Gateshead Thunder have made three additions to their squad ahead of the visit of Oldham on Sunday.
Former York City Knights and Hull KR full-back James Haynes has joined the club, along with Myton duo Brad Krebs and Ricky Hough.
Heading in the opposite direction is Curtis Pullen, who has been allowed to leave due to a lack of first team rugby.
“It’s been a busy, busy week, and we’re very happy to have all three on board,” said Thunder coach Kevin Neighbour, who confirmed that the trio are all in contention to face the Roughyeds.
“We haven’t been able to offer Curtis the regular rugby he wants and needs in order to develop, but we wish him well.”
Oldham have lost Salford City Reds back row Jordan Walne, who played in last week’s win over Hemel Stags but has now returned on loan to Championship side Workington.
But they have moved quickly to replace him by signing Huddersfield Giants youngster Nathan Mason on a month’s loan, and he comes straight into contention.
Prop Jason Boults is also out for at least a month with a broken finger, and Anthony Bowman has hurt his shoulder – both in training.
In addition, Liam Thompson has sustained a gash that has required stitches, though better news surrounds winger Mo Agoro, who could return from an ankle injury.
Oxford v Gloucestershire All Golds (3.00pm)
Oxford coach Tony Benson insists his side cannot afford to take Gloucestershire All Golds lightly.
Benson’s side impressed in beating South Wales last weekend and he is keen to see a similar display against the side currently bottom of Kingstone Press Championship One.
He said: “We played well last week – we were pretty dominant in attach and defence.
“Things have started to come together now, and if we can improve on a couple of key areas we’ll be a good chance this week.
“Gloucestershire have improved a long, and have been there or thereabouts for long periods of games each week. It won’t be easy.”
Benson will give late fitness tests to Alex Thompson (ankle), Lucas Onyango (knee) and Chris Clarke (ankle).
Brad Hepi’s All Golds are still seeking their first Kingstone Press Championship One win, and their first victory since beating Skirlaugh in the Challenge Cup on April 7.
Since then they have lost nine straight matches, but have competed for much of those games.
South Wales Scorpions v Hemel Stags (3.00pm)
Hemel Stags have brought in Jy-Mel Coleman to play alongside brother Jermaine for Sunday’s trip to South Wales Scorpions.
Jy-Mel – the younger of the two – is expected to go straight into the Stags side after joining on a month’s loan from Dewsbury Rams.
Hemel coach Troy Perkins said: “Jy-Mel will add a bit of depth in the halves, and has been playing Championship rugby so will add something to us.
“South Wales are coming off a couple of defeats so will be looking to get their season back on track.
“There could be a bit of a gap between them and the top six if they lose on Sunday, so I’m sure their coach will be stressing how important a game it is for them.”
Perkins will make a late check on Chad Sharp, who has an outside chance of playing.
Scorpions coach Dave Clark has urged his side to improve and ensure they don’t finish the season empty handed.
“I spoke to side about responsibilities when we were in training on Tuesday,” he said. “Last week’s performance (against Oxford) was not acceptable and we spoke about responsibilities to the club and most important the fans who pay their hard earned money to watch us every week.
“I’m looking for a reaction from the players as they know what’s at stake here.”
Courtney Davies is set to return this week but Dalton Grant is still absent, and the Scorpions’ student internationals are now unavailable for the next three weeks.