Betfred Championship news round-up

DEWSBURY RAMS reckon former player Liam Finn can both save them from relegation and lead the way to a brighter future.

The 38-year-old former Ireland halfback has been appointed coach on a one-and-a-half-year deal in succession to Lee Greenwood, who left at the start of the month (his assistant Nathan Graham has also now departed).

Finn hung up his boots at the end of last season, having had two stints at Dewsbury, Wakefield and Featherstone as well as spells at Halifax, Castleford and Newcastle.

He cut his coaching teeth at Wakefield and became assistant to Simon Grix at Halifax in November.

Now he has moved to Dewsbury, who, having flirted with relegation in both 2019 and 2021 before pulling clear, slid into the drop zone after losing 26-18 at home to London Broncos in their second match under the caretaker control of Paul Sykes, who played alongside Finn in the halves for the Rams last season.

Finn’s first match is away to Bradford on Sunday, when Dewsbury, who are two points above Workington, one behind the Broncos and four adrift of Whitehaven, will be seeking only their third league win at the 16th attempt.

The following game brings a quick reunion with Halifax at the Tetley’s Stadium on Sunday, July 3.

“It’s clear we’re struggling on the field and need some help, so hopefully I can bring that,” he said.

“I want to get my input into the players, try to improve and play some better rugby and get those results we desperately need.”

Dewsbury Chairman Mark Sawyer said: “Liam has extensive knowledge of the game at Championship level.

“He was popular here as a player and has made a good start to his coaching career at Wakefield and Halifax and is a perfect fit for our club.

“He has shown real passion for taking on the role and helping the club build for the future.”


LEIGH CENTURIONS coach Adrian Lam hailed two of his ‘A players’ as his side went top of the table by beating Featherstone.

Former North Queensland Cowboys and Brisbane Broncos player John Asiata, the scorer of one of Leigh’s five tries, started at loose-forward and finished in the halves as the previous leaders were downed 32-12 in front of the Premier Sports cameras.

And ex-South Sydney Rabbitohs and Wests Tigers prop Tom Amone produced another powerful performance in the pack as the Centurions moved a point clear of Featherstone through a 13th successive league win.

Asiata, who has played internationally for both Samoa and Tonga, turned out 129 times for the Cowboys, including their 2015 Grand Final win over the Broncos – for whom he featured on ten occasions last year – and their 2016 World Club Challenge victory at Leeds.

The 29-year-old had signed a contract with Canterbury Bulldogs for this season, but it was terminated due to his refusal to have a Covid vaccination – and Leigh swooped.

“He’s always had that versatility,” explained Lam, whose side also beat Featherstone in the 1895 Cup Final last month.

“John finished at right half, and we had prepped him for that. He played in a Grand Final team for part of the season in the halves.

“He has got better over the last four weeks, and I thought he was outstanding.”

Amone, 25, made nine appearances over two years at Souths and, last year, eight for Wests.

“Tom has been great all year<‘ added Lam. “When he came, he was probably a bench player, but we didn’t have the numbers at that stage and had to play him from the start in early games, and he’s held on to that spot.

“He has always had that strong carry but has worked very hard on the defensive side of his game.”
Lam hopes experienced halfback Joe Mellor will return from a thigh injury for Friday’s trip to Sheffield.


FEATHERSTONE ROVERS forward Matty Wildie admitted the performance produced in their latest clash with his former club Leigh, after which he was hit by a two-match suspension for dangerous contact, “wasn’t good enough”.

And the seasoned hooker, who switched after being relegated from Super League with the Centurions last season, says he and his team-mates are working hard to get back on track after their 32-12 loss.

The promotion-chasing Yorkshire side, who were also beaten by Leigh in last month’s 1895 Cup Final in London, lost the divisional leadership as a result of their first league defeat this season.

The only point dropped previously was in March’s 20-20 draw at Batley, who visit the Millennium Stadium on Sunday.

The loss to Leigh in front of the Premier Sports cameras was only Featherstone’s second defeat in 40 regular-season league matches stretching back to the truncated 2020 campaign.

The other was last season, by a 23-6 margin at home to Toulouse, who then beat them 34-12 in the Million Pound Game in France in October.

Rovers are aiming to get to a third MPG in four years, having lost 24-6 to Toronto in Canada in 2019.

Coach Brian McDermott was in charge of the Wolfpack at that time.

Wildie, who is in his second spell at Featherstone, tweeted: “Hurting and disappointed, just wasn’t good enough from us. We will stick together and work hard to put things right.”

McDermott, who hopes backrower Jack Bussey will be back after a knee injury to face Batley, said: “The result is not the end of anything or a league-winning one.

“But in the 1895 Cup Final, we learned that a six-and-a-half out of ten from us is not good enough against a team like Leigh. We have to be a lot better to be able to beat them.”

Featherstone have released much-travelled 31-year-old forward Kyle Trout.


WHITEHAVEN have added a fullback and a double dash of French flair to the LEL Arena squad as they aim to banish their relegation fears.

Warrington’s former England youth international Luke Broadbent, whose father Gary is a popular former player at the Cumbrian club, has moved on loan for the rest of the season.

And Catalans Dragons duo Corentin Le Cam, a backrower, and Cesar Rouge, a halfback or hooker, have been signed on initial one-month deals.

Le Cam, who is 6ft 8in tall and 22 years old, made a try-scoring debut for France in last October’s 30-10 defeat by England in Perpignan.

Along with Rouge, 19, he was in the national squad for the mid-season meeting with Wales in Albi.

Broadbent, 19, who played for Cumbrian community club Walney Central before joining the Warrington development system, had a loan spell at Workington earlier this year, while Le Cam has played five times for Catalans and Rouge three.

Whitehaven director Ashley Kilpatrick said: “I’m chuffed to get Luke over the line and to see him follow in his father’s footsteps in playing for the club.

“He’s a good returner of the ball and talks well. He’s come through a full-time environment at Warrington and has Stefan Ratchford and Josh Thewlis in front of him, so opportunities have been limited.

“It’s brilliant to have Corentin, who is fully expected to play in the World Cup.

“He’s had a few Super League games, getting man-of-the-match against St Helens on his debut last August and is a big lad to be running out wide in the back row for us.

“Cesar is also very highly rated by everyone at Catalans and has versatility. He’s quick and loves to take the line on and could also feature in the World Cup.”

Whitehaven, fourth-bottom after six defeats in seven, the last 24-12 at home to Halifax, host York on Sunday.


BRADFORD BULLS interim coach Mark Dunning hailed the club’s link-up with Leeds as he prepared to welcome back his players after a week off.

He was able to select Rhinos duo Corey Johnson and Alex Mellor for the most recent match at Sheffield.

Johnson, 21, played at scrum-half in place of the unavailable Jordan Lilley, while Mellor, 27, featured in the second row for the 30-10 victory.

Mellor started his career at Bradford before spending three seasons at Huddersfield prior to signing for Leeds in 2020.

The Bulls and the Rhinos started the season with a loan arrangement, but it was changed to a dual-registration partnership in March.

Leeds had been dual-partnered with Featherstone, from whom Bradford took their former fullback Brandon Pickersgill on loan for the Sheffield clash.

But the 25-year-old, who moved from Odsal to Rovers during the close-season but now has competition in the shape of France international Mark Kheirallah, suffered a back injury.

Johnson and Mellor emerged unscathed, and Dunning said: “Corey was outstanding. He’s a hooker, but he’s proved how good he is because he slotted into the halves and didn’t look out of place.

“It was a big miss having Jordan out, but Corey did a sterling job.

“It was a great coup to get Alex in and it’s testament to Leeds. They make players available for us like Alex, and anybody at this club would welcome him with open arms every day of the week.”

Winger Ryan Millar, a close-season signing from Sheffield, crossed twice against his former club to help record a fourth win in six games under Dunning’s command.

“It wasn’t a brilliant spectacle, but any two points away from home are very important,” said the team chief, whose side host Dewsbury on Sunday.

“After we had our debrief last Tuesday, I gave the players a week off and asked them to rest and recuperate.”


BATLEY BULLDOGS forward Dane Manning has been reflecting on the chance that got away after racking up his 300th career appearance.

The 33-year-old second rower, who is in his second spell at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium, played his 147th game for the Gallant Youths as they beat Newcastle 58-12 before the international break.

Manning, who was among Batley’s try-scorers against Thunder, made 23 appearances for Featherstone in 2010 and 129 for Halifax between 2012 and 2016.

But the first of his 300 came for Leeds, who signed him from his hometown amateur team Dewsbury Celtic midway through 2008 and played him from the bench in the 24-14 Super League win over Hull KR at Headingley in July 2009, when New Zealander Brian McClennan was coach.

Manning, who had been handed a full-time Rhinos contract, explained: “I got stuck in straight away had a decent game, and (captain) Jamie Peacock spoke to me and said ‘carry on doing what you’re doing and you’ll go far’.

“I was 18th or 19th man for most of the remaining games that year and knocking on the door, but I couldn’t get in the team, and in 2010 I was loaned to Featherstone for the season.

“They were part-time and trained at night, so I had time during the day, and instead of doing the right things, I was playing PlayStation too much and not eating healthily.

“Looking back, I took my lifestyle for granted and got a bit lazy. I wish I’d put more effort in and done the extras.”

Newcastle’s visit was also a milestone match for Manning’s Batley team-mate Dale Morton.

The winger who is in his third season with the Bulldogs, scored his 100th career try (13 for his current club, 78 for Dewsbury between 2013 and 2019 and nine for Wakefield from 2009 until 2011).

Batley, who are fourth in the table, visit Featherstone on Sunday.


BARROW RAIDERS coach Paul Crarey says smart play is helping his side maintain their bid for a play-off place in their first season following promotion.

Last year’s League One champions will go into their Premier Sports-televised home clash with Halifax next Monday (June 27) occupying a prized top-six spot.

Their 58-0 derby win at Workington, in which star French centre Hakim Miloudi made a try-scoring return after an eight-match ban, was their ninth (plus a draw) in 15 games so far.

And Crarey, who handed on-loan Catalans forward Mathieu Cozza a debut, said: “I thought we were very good from minute one. We knew they’d come hard, and there was a lot of emotion in those first ten minutes.

“But the game isn’t played on emotion, it’s played on smarts. From our preparation, we found some areas where we could get at them.

“Once we got into the swing, I thought we were outstanding. We pulled them apart.

“I can’t praise my players enough; they’ve had a tough run. There are no easy games in the Championship, but we went up and did a number on a side that was ready for us. We put them to the sword.

“I’ve given the players a little bit of time off before a big build-up for the next game.”

Barrow will be out to avenge a 40-18 defeat by Halifax at The Shay in April

The club has an average attendance of 2,150 after eight home league games, and former Barrow hooker Crarey, who began his second spell as coach in 2014, continued: “I’m so pleased for the fans. They have been unbelievable.

“And they came in their droves to Workington. They were magnificent throughout the match and stayed behind at the end. They did us proud.

“It’s great to see how this club has grown over this Championship season in terms of support.”


HALIFAX PANTHERS coach Simon Grix wants his side to build on their bounce-back win at Whitehaven when they return to Cumbria to face Barrow.

The showdown at the Matt Johnson Prestige Stadium takes place in front of the Premier Sports cameras a week tonight (Monday, June 27).

Having been beaten 36-0 at Leigh, the Shay side responded by defeating Whitehaven 24-12 at the LEL Arena.

They stayed fifth, a point and a place above Barrow, as they seek a second successive play-off appearance.

“It was a big win for us,” said Grix. “They are a tough team, but we dug in, and it keeps us on track for where we want to be.”

Grix has lost his right-hand man Liam Finn after the former halfback, who became assistant coach in November, took the top job at Dewsbury.

There will be a reunion when Halifax visit the Rams on Sunday, July 3.

“Losing Finny at this stage isn’t ideal but he is definitely ready for the challenge,” said Grix.

“I had hoped we could get at least a few seasons together as we see things very similarly, but for now we change paths.

“Obviously, there aren’t many head coach jobs and to be offered one reflects his character and reputation.

“He goes with our best wishes and won’t be a stranger – only for 80 minutes in a few weeks’ time.”


LONDON BRONCOS loanee Sam Hall says the capital club has what it takes to pull clear of relegation danger.

The emerging forward, whose temporary switch came soon after he penned a new Castleford contract through to 2024, scored a debut try as the Broncos won 26-18 at Dewsbury to climb out of the dreaded bottom two.

They visit Widnes on Sunday seeking a third league win, and 20-year-old Hall said: “Our game was scrappy at times, and Dewsbury pushed us hard, so to come away with a win was really good for the team.

“We’re now out of the relegation zone, which is great, but if we switch off at any time, we run the risk of falling back into the bottom two.

“We’ve got to stay focused and push on from here. If we do so, then we can look to climb the table.”


NEWCASTLE THUNDER signing Ellis Robson is enjoying his new challenge in the North-East and he is desperate to do his bit to help Eamon O’Carroll’s side get back to winning ways when they host Workington on Sunday.

The last of tenth-placed Thunder’s five wins in 15 league outings this year was 52-22 at London Broncos, since when there have been four defeats.

Versatile forward Robson, 23, has played in the last three of them – at home against Featherstone and Sheffield and away to Batley – after moving from Warrington, where he skippered the Under-19s but has found first-team action hard to come by.

“We are working hard in training, and we have to concentrate on ourselves and get back to doing what we know we can do well,” he said.

“We need to be intense and tough and take pride in our performances, then the result can look after itself.”

Newcastle were 20-6 winners at Workington in the opening round of the season in January.


SHEFFIELD EAGLES are more than happy to have brought in Tom Holmes from Featherstone on a deal until the end of the season.

The 26-year-old former Super League halfback or hooker had made his mark during a string of loan appearances for the South Yorkshire side.

Holmes was in his second spell at Featherstone and played 18 times for them last season, when James Webster was at the helm.

But the ex-Castleford and Huddersfield man struggled to get into the reckoning under coach Brian McDermott.

Eagles coach Mark Aston said: “Tom was outstanding throughout his loan spell and we jumped at the chance to sign him permanently.

“He has had to play in a number of positions he is rather unfamiliar with but he’s been a stand-out, excelling with 80-minute performances.

“We hold team spirit and camaraderie in high regard and Tom added to them immediately.

“We have a very talented group of halfbacks who all learn from each other.

“Tom’s experience at Super League level has already helped everyone progress and it will continue to push us on to become a better team.”

Eighth-placed Sheffield host Leigh on Friday.


WIDNES VIKINGS stalwart Danny Craven chalked up his 200th career appearance as fullback and skipper Jack Owens made his return from knee surgery in the 16-14 home defeat by York City Knights.

Now both players will be aiming to help their ninth-placed side beat London Broncos at the DCBL Stadium on Sunday in the last match before new coach John Kear takes the reins.

It was a 164th Widnes appearance for 30-year-old halfback Craven, who made his debut in 2010 and had a testimonial match against Batley in pre-season.

He has also played four times for Workington (in 2013), two for Whitehaven (2015), six for Halifax (2015) and 24 for Featherstone (2016) on either dual-registration or loan.

Against York, Craven was making his fourth appearance since returning from a torn calf. He scored his side’s opening try and was later yellow-carded for holding down.

It was the sixth game under the control of Ryan O’Brien, who stepped up from his role as performance manager following the departure of Simon Finnigan in April.


WORKINGTON TOWN hope Dec O’Donnell will return from his month-long loan stint at Oldham to contribute to the club’s survival bid.

The Ireland international was a key player in last season’s promotion from League One before joining London Broncos on a two-year deal.

The 23-year-old from Wigan returned to Town in late January, after being unable to settle in the capital, but he has had injury issues.

Coach Chris Thorman, whose side are bottom with just one win from 15 games, feels O’Donnell needs game time before being ready for the second tier.

He made his Oldham bow from the bench in their 66-0 home League One win over Midlands Hurricanes.

Workington visit Newcastle on Sunday.


YORK CITY KNIGHTS winger Joe Brown believes the mental toughness that was on show during the hard-fought 16-14 win at Widnes will help James Ford’s side as they aim to mount a challenge to Championship big-hitters Leigh and Featherstone.

York travel to Whitehaven on Sunday in third place and seeking a fourth straight victory and 13th in 16 league outings this year.

Brown, a close-season signing from Bradford, who crossed twice against Widnes, said: “It was a massive win, but we didn’t perform anywhere near the level we are capable of, so it was also frustrating.

“We did well to get the victory, but there’s a lot to work on and we need to fix some things quickly.

“Probably for 50 minutes of that game, we were nowhere near where we want to be and, even after going in front, we were still making silly errors.

“But we’ve got a lot of resilience and a mental toughness that has got us through some difficult periods.

“It is instilled in us now. And if you stick together, you’ve always got a chance to come away with the result.”

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