Betfred Championship news round-up

BARROW RAIDERS coach Paul Crarey is delighted to have experienced forward Danny Langtree back as he prepares for a long spell without Hakim Miloudi.

While secondrow Langtree, a close-season signing from Oldham, returned from a hamstring problem for the recent win at Bradford, France international Miloudi has been hit with an eight-match ban.

It would keep him out of the 1895 Cup final should Barrow win their home semi-final against Featherstone on Sunday, May 8.

In any case, the 28-year-old former Hull and Toronto player will be absent until June after a tribunal found him guilty of a Grade F charge of other contrary behaviour during the home defeat by Batley.

It combined separate offences of recklessly making contact with an opponent off the ball and moving an injured player.

Miloudi, who has also been fined £250, joined Barrow last year and helped them win promotion as League One champions.

He has formed a highly-effective partnership with winger Theerapol Ritson, who along with halfback Ryan Johnston and loose-forward Anton Iaria, missed the 23-22 win at Bradford through injury.

But former Oldham stalwart Langtree, 31, who earlier this season made his 200th career appearance, was back for Barrow’s first victory at Odsal since 1963, sealed by Jarrod Sammut’s late field-goal.

“It was great to be back out there with the lads again,” said Langtree.

“I had a little setback in the warm up before the Batley game, when I was in the 21-man squad, so had to be patient.”

Barrow have league games at Halifax (on Sunday) and at home to York in front of the Premier Sports cameras on Monday, May 2 before the 1895 Cup semi-final.

“There are no easy games in this division,” added Langtree. “But you couldn’t really have asked for a better start from the lads this season.

“They all deserve a lot of credit because they’ve beaten some good teams.”


LEIGH CENTURIONS back Ed Chamberlain is happy to keep going about his business quietly as Adrian Lam’s side continue their quest for success on two fronts.

While targeting an immediate return to Super League, Leigh are in the semi-finals of the 1895 Cup, with the final being played alongside the Challenge Cup final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday, May 28.

After their Championship clash with London Broncos on Sunday, the Centurions have two further home games, both against Sheffield, in the league on Friday, April 29 then the cup competition for non-Super League sides on Sunday, May 8.

And after a tough 2021 campaign, which ended in relegation from the top flight, Leigh would love to reward their loyal fans with a big day out.

Former Wigan coach Lam took over in November and along with director of rugby Chris Chester, assembled a new-look squad.

Ireland international Chamberlain arrived from Salford, who signed him from Widnes ahead of the 2018 campaign, when he played eleven times, scoring three tries and kicking 33 goals.

However after four appearances (one try and 14 goals) in 2019, he sustained a season-ending injury.

After playing three games (with two tries and three goals) towards the end of 2020, Chamberlain was last year loaned to London Broncos, for whom he had played once on loan in 2020 before the Championship season was halted.

He featured seven times for the capital club in 2021 before another injury setback.

While the likes of fullback Caleb Aekins, signed from Canberra Raiders, Papua New Guinea international back Nene Macdonald (ex-Norths Devils), and Keanan Brand (recruited from Warrington) have been making the headlines, Chamberlain has proved a consistent performer.

“I’m loving my time here,” said the 26-year-old, who played in the 2017 World Cup.

“I’ve had a bit of an injury crisis over recent years, but now I hope to stay fit, keep performing and keep my spot.”


LONDON BRONCOS secondrow Rhys Curran reckons things are slowly but surely coming together for the capital club.

The Broncos went into the season with a new coach (Jermaine Coleman), a new-look squad after going from full to part-time status and a new ground (the Cherry Red Records Stadium at Wimbledon).

They went into Saturday’s clash with Sheffield at Featherstone having picked up just one point from seven league games – drawing 18-18 at Barrow.

Having suffered a 34-8 Challenge Cup defeat at home to Bradford, they pushed the Bulls far closer in a league clash at Wimbledon earlier this month, going down 8-6.

In the home game before that, York were made to work hard for their 26-24 victory, and France international Curran, who joined from Toulouse in 2020, says there has been definite progress.

“Against Barrow, we gave ourselves a mountain to climb and finished the game strongly to get the point,” said the 32-year-old.

“Through the season, we’ve been great in patches, and our goal is to play to our true potential for 80 minutes.

“If we can start doing that, I have every confidence we can string together a positive run of results.”

Curran believes recent fixture breaks have been helpful.

“The atmosphere in training has been really positive. We’ve used the gaps between games to dig a little deeper into our video reviews so we better understand our areas of strength and what we can improve on,” he added.

“It’s good to be involved in training when your teammates bounce their ideas and energy off each other.

“Since the start of the season, we feel like we’re developing the key combinations required to put points on the board.

“There was a huge overhaul of players in the close-season and we’ve suffered from inconsistencies in the spine, with key men missing through injury and Covid. Now we feel we’re developing some consistency.”


NEWCASTLE THUNDER director of rugby Denis Betts says the ambitious club couldn’t have a harder-working coach than Eamon O’Carroll.

Former Wigan and Great Britain secondrow Betts was on the Warriors coaching staff when former Ireland prop O’Carroll was emerging as a player.

He later signed him from Hull when in charge at Widnes, and then gave the now 34-year-old the chance to cut his coaching teeth.

Having moved to Newcastle in March 2019, Betts brought O’Carroll, who was assistant coach at Catalans, to the North-East in November 2020 following the departure of Simon Finnigan to Widnes.

Newcastle were soon elevated to the Championship via a bidding process (the pandemic had curtailed the second and third-tier campaigns that year) and O’Carroll helped them consolidate at the new level.

Now Thunder, who have gone full-time, are aiming to push on, and went into their game at York having won four out of seven in the league.

Next up is a clash with Sheffield at Featherstone on Friday, and Betts said: “Eamon is a real asset to this club and will go on to be a very successful coach.

“As a player, he was tough with a great work ethic, the kind you want in your team, and I wish he’d played more for me at Widnes.

“He gave everything, and he’s got the same approach to coaching. He works really hard at it, and he really cares about his players.

“Myself and (assistant coach) Michael Heap are here to support Eamon and do everything we can to make this club the best possible.”

The club’s stated intention is to win Super League by 2030.

And Betts explained: “We want a pathway, and if you have a goal, why not make it a high one and aim for the stars?

“Each year we want to take a step further up the table and become a better full-time team.”


SHEFFIELD EAGLES centre Ryan Johnson is ready to help Mark Aston’s men upset the odds by reaching a second 1895 Cup final.

The 21-year-old was a young Hull FC hopeful when Sheffield beat Widnes at Wembley to become the inaugural winners of the competition for non-Super League sides in 2019 (right).

Three years on, the Eagles must win at Leigh on Sunday, May 8 in order to face the winners of the same day’s Barrow versus Featherstone tie in the Saturday, May 28 curtain-raiser to the Challenge Cup final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

It’s big ask for the steel-city side but Johnson, who helped Sheffield sweep aside Whitehaven 40-6 in a play-off to make the last four, says he’s looking forward to the challenge – if selected.

“I had a run of games last year, and I want to kick on this time,” explained the City of Hull Academy product, who while he was released by Hull after the Covid-affected 2020 campaign, still works for their foundation, where his role includes coaching the Learning Disability Super League side as well as local primary school pupils.

“I’m really enjoying being involved in the Eagles side this season, and I’ve had a few games now, but we have some good backs, so competition for places is high, and you can’t take anything for granted.”

Aston added: “Leigh have a strong squad, and keep adding to it. And Derek (Beaumont, chairman) will be desperate to get to the final for the first time in two attempts.

“But I’ve been in those kind of one-off games, and anything can happen. We’re playing for a big prize, and if we have the right mentality, we can can challenge them.”

Before their back-to-back Leigh games, Sheffield face Newcastle at Featherstone on Friday.


WHITEHAVEN coach Jony Gorley has outlawed the ‘I word’ as he works to get a faltering campaign back on track.

Having made the play-offs last year, the Cumbrians went into their home Easter Sunday derby against Workington on the back of four straight defeats.

After losing 44-6 at home to Sheffield, they were beaten 46-4, also at the LEL Arena, by St Helens in the Challenge Cup sixth round, 46-24 at Halifax and 46-6 by Sheffield in an 1895 Cup play-off tie which took place at Featherstone.

Those results came against the backdrop of a glut of injuries, including a long-term knee problem for halfback Alex Bishop, and Whitehaven finished the Sheffield clash with only twelve men after Karl Olstrom, Geronimo Doyle (who has a broken arm), Kieran Hudson, Ryan King and try-scorer Dion Aiye were forced off.

But Gorley, who has brought in fullback Davy Litten and halfback or hooker Jacob Hookem to join their Hull teammate Marcus Walker, the versatile back who was already on loan, said: “Being down on bodies is no excuse.

“We finished with some knocks, but we can’t let that get in the way of what was happening prior to getting them.

“We have to be better defensively. At times their middles were just too good for us, and that allowed (scrum half) Anthony Thackeray and (hooker) Vila Halafihi to dominate.

“We had a taste of what Sheffield are like a few weeks before at our place, and didn’t learn from that.

“They are good at what they do and they pulled us around. When they were defending, I could hear the shouts, when we were defending, I couldn’t. We must be more vocal.

“And when we improved our defence in the second half, we let ourselves down with our ball control.”

Whitehaven have a trip to York on Sunday, and a home clash with Bradford seven days after, before a blank weekend.


WIDNES VIKINGS talisman Matty Smith is confident there is more than enough talent in Simon Finnigan’s squad to earn a play-off place – now the objective is to find some consistency.

The DCBL Stadium side, reshaped through a string of close-season signings – started the campaign in fine fettle, beating London Broncos, Workington, Halifax and Dewsbury.

But then came defeats by Barrow, York and Newcastle leading into the Good Friday visit of Leigh, who in February knocked Widnes out of the Challenge Cup.

On Sunday, Finnigan’s side host Batley in a repeat of Vikings stalwart Danny Craven’s pre-season testimonial game, then it’s a tough trip to Featherstone before a fortnight’s break.

Smith, who is back in the halves after a stint in the pack last year, is desperate to help make sure Widnes have additional points on the board by then.

“It’s been frustrating,” said the 34-year-old former England international, who represented St Helens, Salford, Wigan and Catalans, who loaned him to Warrington for a spell, before joining Widnes in 2020.

“We’ve definitely got some areas of our game right, but there have been other parts where we’ve been below the standard we need to hit, and there have been games we’ve lost which we felt we should have won.

“You’re never going to be perfect every game, but we need to be more consistent, and we know we’re capable because of the start we made.

“We’ve got some really talented players and a great spirit within the group, we all get on and enjoy the set-up here, and we’re all upbeat and looking forward to the games ahead.”

The Vikings averaged 3,523 for their opening two home games of the season against Workington and Barrow and Smith added: “The fans have been really good.

“They turn out in their numbers – away as well – and really get behind us, and we want to repay them.”


BATLEY BULLDOGS have boosted their forward options by signing prop Martyn Reilly from divisional rivals Sheffield.

The 26-year-old former Halifax and Dewsbury player could face Widnes at the DCBL Stadium on Sunday.

Reilly joined Sheffield from Oldham during the close-season, but requested a release, to which the South Yorkshire club agreed.

He played in the Eagles’ 1895 Cup play-off win over Whitehaven earlier this month.

Sheffield coach Mark Aston explained: “We never want to stand in a player’s way and this is the case with Martyn.

“He made a big impact in his short time with ourselves and he is the ultimate professional.

“I’d like to thank Martyn for his efforts in an Eagles shirt and we wish him all the best for the future.”


BRADFORD BULLS have re-signed forward Sam Hallas after his departure from Newcastle.

The 25-year-old left Odsal for Thunder on a two-year contract in November.

But the former Leeds player, who first joined the Bulls in 2017, didn’t move to the North-East, and sought a release to pursue an opportunity away from the game which he couldn’t have done as a full-time player.

Hallas has been playing loose-forward, but is also adept at hooker, and will help cover for George Flanagan (thumb injury).

“I am delighted we have Sam back and it is a timely boost ahead of the second quarter of the season,” said Bradford coach John Kear.

“We did not want to lose Sam but understood his reasoning with the opportunity to go full-time.

“It has not worked out in that regard but now he has a good job down here and when we realised he wanted part-time rugby, we jumped at the chance.”

Bradford host Featherstone in front of the Premier Sports cameras next Monday, April 25.


DEWSBURY RAMS have accepted halfback Harry Copley’s request to be released.

He was a close-season signing from community club Dewsbury Celtic and took the number 25 shirt, but has struggled with injuries.

“We would like to wish Harry all the best for the future,” said the Rams in a statement.

Coach Lee Greenwood will be without another halfback, Alex Smith, for Sunday’s home game against Workington.

The 24-year-old England Universities international, who was signed ahead of last season, received a two-match ban for a dangerous throw during the 44-0 defeat at Leigh.

It started with the Good Friday derby at Batley and left Greenwood with only two specialist halfbacks – veteran player-coach Paul Sykes and Jake Sweeting, a close-season recruit from Featherstone.


FEATHERSTONE ROVERS paid tribute to their Wembley heroes as they hosted Barrow, their opponents in the 1967 Challenge Cup final, on Good Friday.

Rovers won 17-12 at the national stadium 55 years ago to lift the famous trophy for the first time.

They also won the Challenge Cup in 1973, beating Bradford 33-14, and 1983, when they shocked Hull 14-12.

Last year, Featherstone claimed the 1895 Cup by beating York 41-34 at Wembley (this year they visit Barrow in the semi-finals on Sunday, May 8, hoping to get to the final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday, May 28).

Players from all three Challenge Cup-winning sides took part in a lap of honour before the Barrow game.

“Heritage is so important to us, that’s clear to see in our clubhouse with portraits of the hall of famers dotted around the room,” said chief executive Martin Vickers.

“We won the 1895 Cup last year, but it’s also important we remember our status as a club who have won the Challenge Cup three times.”
Rovers’ next league game is away to Bradford in front of the Premier Sports cameras next Monday, April 25.


HALIFAX PANTHERS coach Simon Grix says he’ll make sure Matty Gee is ready before pitching the secondrow into action.

The 27-year-old was an eye-catching winter signing from Leigh, for whom he made 14 Super League appearances last year.

But Gee, who also played for London Broncos and Hull KR in the top flight, has been hampered by a shoulder issue which needed surgery.

He has yet to make his Halifax debut, and coach Simon Grix explained: “It’s a nerve injury and with these things, it’s literally just time.

“We’re doing everything we can and so is Matty, and he is progressing and joining in training, but without the contact element.

“He’ll add a lot of value, but it would be a big risk to push him too much, and we certainly won’t do that.”

Grix is also without another pack addition Brad Knowles, the ex-Sheffield man who picked up a hip problem in the opening game against Batley.

Meanwhile centre Greg Worthington is recovering after an operation on a toe injury sustained during pre-season.

Halifax host Barrow on Sunday.


WORKINGTON TOWN coach Chris Thorman is working hard to further bolster his squad after bringing in Warrington youngster Dan Brewin on loan.

His side didn’t clinch promotion until October 10, when they beat Doncaster 36-12 in the League One play-off final.

That means they were playing catch-up on their second-tier rivals when putting a player pool together.

Workington also lost 18-try winger Brad Holroyd to Widnes.

While Ireland international hooker Dec O’Donnell departed for London Broncos, he has since returned to Derwent Park after failing to settle in the capital.

But Thorman has had to deal with a glut of injuries and Town went into their Easter Sunday derby game at Whitehaven still seeking a first league point.

Thorman’s side have a Heavy Woollen double coming up as they visit Dewsbury on Sunday then host Batley seven days after that.

And the coach said: “I will be doing all I can to strengthen our options, because we need to.

“There weren’t a lot of players available when we were looking to recruit and in many ways, we went into the Championship with a League One squad.

“We have good players, and they have shown they can be effective when they do things well, but we are not consistent enough and that has to change.”
Brewin, a 20-year-old centre or secondrow who played his junior rugby at Widnes Moorfield, is currently in Warrington’s second-team squad after moving up from the Academy and has signed a month-long deal.


YORK CITY KNIGHTS centre James Glover reckons the presence of Leeds loanee Levi Edwards is a big plus – even if it’s making it harder for him to get into the team.

While coach James Ford signed Glover from Sheffield and Jacob Ogden from London Broncos over the winter, he added Edwards on a season-long loan in March.

The Rhinos teenager scored four tries in five games for Batley last season, and has so far impressed for York, who host Whitehaven on Sunday.

“Competition around the squad can only breed success within a group,” said Glover. “Everyone has got to be on their ‘A’ game.”
Ogden was among four York players Ford and his assistant Brett Delaney watched play for Leeds in their Reserve Championship win over Hull KR.

Like Ogden, hooker Sam Davis, another close-season signing from the Broncos, secondrow Toby Warren and Myles Harrison, who is a fullback by trade but played stand-off, featured under the clubs’ development dual registration agreement.

Davis twice scored tries from dummy-half in the 36-32 victory at Stanningley.

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