Betfred League One news round-up

NORTH WALES CRUSADERS‘ in-form forward Gav Rodden believes last season’s play-off heartache could work in their favour this time around.

The Colwyn Bay-based side headed into the weekend’s fixture against West Wales Raiders sitting top of the league with five wins from five, and Rodden’s form in these opening games of the season saw him named as Rugby League World’s League One Player of the Month.

Rodden, who stepped up from the Amateur game with Wigan St Judes ahead of the ill-fated 2020 season, was in fine form last season too and helped the Crusaders earn a third-placed finish and a place in the play-offs for the first time since 2015.

Defeats to Keighley and Doncaster ultimately ended their promotion charge in 2021, but Rodden is confident his team has learned a lot from the experience.

“They’re two really experienced sides and Doncaster blew us off the park in that first-half,” Rodden told Rugby League World.

“We had a real good dig, but I think they’ll prove to be massive experiences for us and the play-offs won’t be anything new to us should we make them later this season.

“For a lot of players, it was the first time they’d played in matches of that size and I know people at this level really respect our name now for what we’ve been doing.

“The teams that finished first and second were promoted last season in the end so it shows what a really good achievement finishing third was and we need to try to build on that now.”

The full interview with Rodden can be read in the latest issue of Rugby League World, which is out now and available to buy at


SWINTON LIONS coach Allan Coleman hopes to welcome back a few experienced faces when they return to action against London Skolars on Sunday.

The Lions enjoyed a bye weekend over the Bank Holiday and used the time to reflect on the 30-0 defeat to Keighley Cougars last time out.

“Fingers crossed we’ll have Billy Brickhill back in contention, as well as hopefully Louis Brogan, Jack Hansen and Jordan Case,” Coleman told the club’s Twitter feed following the Keighley game.

“We’ll also have a look at Jordan Brown and Ben Hayes because it is important that we rotate our squad well.

“We need players challenging for places and after Keighley game no one’s position is secure.

“We were very disappointed by that game. The previous week (against North Wales) we got beaten by a team that played better than us, but our effort was good. But against Keighley we had no effort and the players will admit that.

“It just wasn’t good enough. We were outmuscled and outplayed. Scorelines don’t lie and if anything that flattered us considering how we played.

“London scored 20-odd points against Rochdale, and while they never looked like they were going to win, they showed they can score points so we can’t take them lightly.”


KEIGHLEY COUGARS coach Rhys Lovegrove is delighted to see the next generation of leaders emerge at the club.

The season has started brightly for the West Yorkshire club, with four wins from four games going into Sunday’s home tie with London Skolars.

But as pleasing as results and performances have been, Lovegrove is also delighted to see how some members of his squad have stepped up in recent weeks.

“We’ve always had that group of Scott Murrells, Jake Websters and Kyle Kesiks – the older senior leaders, but it has been really interesting to see how that middle group of players have stepped up,” said Lovegrove.

“The transition that we’ve seen from some of those future leaders that we had two years ago in Mo Agoro, Jack Miller, Dan Parker, Billy Gaylor and Brendon Santi – that 25 to 28-year-old bracket – has been great to see.

“They have really stepped forward and been a lot more vocal within the team. That has been a real catalyst for us to drive that culture even further than we were before.”

Parker may not be as vocal over the next couple of weeks though as he has been handed a two-match ban by the disciplinary committee for dangerous contact during the recent 30-0 win over Swinton Lions.

He will now miss Sunday’s trip to West Wales Raiders and the home clash against Rochdale Hornets a week later.


Charley Bodman still believes the move to HUNSLET was the right one for him, despite finding game time limited so far his year.

The 21-year-old moved to West Yorkshire from his native Wales, alongside former West Wales Raiders team mate Rowland Kaye, over the winter with the aim of fighting for national selection ahead of the World Cup.

Kaye has since left the club for personal reasons, while Bodman has played just once for Alan Kilshaw’s men – a substitute appearance in the Challenge Cup defeat to North Wales Crusaders.

“I haven’t come here for a holiday, I’ve come for international rugby,” said Bodman. “That’s the aim. It’s the World Cup this year and who knows.

“That’s what I have been pushing for and knocking on the door. My dad said I have to go where the rugby is, and he’s right. It’s a great opportunity.

“We have Leeds Rhinos Reserves on our doorstep who I can play for, as well, in-season if I don’t play. That’s an option I didn’t have down in West Wales – if I wasn’t picked, then I couldn’t play anywhere else.”

Meanwhile, Kilshaw has further added to his pack by extending the loan deal for Halifax back-rower Cole Oakley by a month., he has however temporarily lost fellow loanees Connor Moore and Daniel Okoro, who returned to parent club Hull KR last week.

“Cole showed up really well against the Cougars and has had a few more weeks with us in training; we’re glad to have been able to extend his stay,” added Kilshaw.

“Connor and Dan played for their parent club at the weekend in the reserves but we are expecting them to return for the three games in May. With recent loan acquisitions Jacob Doyle and Oli Burton alongside Cole – and, potentially, Connor and Dan – we have boosted the squad and offset some of our absentees.

“They have all bought into the club and will represent themselves and the team with pride.”


OLDHAM have celebrated the news they have finally secured a new training base.

The club, along with Hollinwood ARLFC, have signed a lease with the Rugby Football League for joint occupancy of Melrose Playing Fields, on Fields New Road in Chadderton and the site also presents the start of a new era for the opportunity to develop off-field activities.

The lease is for an initial period of 15 years but it incorporates an automatic renewal clause.

“This has been an ongoing project since November, 2020 when we were still in the midst of Covid-19 and all that went with it,” explained chairman Chris Hamilton.

“However, all that perseverance and hard work has led us to this point, and we are naturally delighted to have got the lease signed. Via the Community Trust, we have a great opportunity to significantly develop our off field and community activities over the course of the coming years.

“We intend to work closely with local residents and councillors to make the site more accessible for all kinds of activities for both young and old alike.

“We are genuinely excited about the opportunities that will lay ahead. The Community Trust will be able to seek partners and access funding not available to the club and we will have a further announcement on our first venture in the coming days.

“Hollinwood ARLFC has had its struggles in recent times, and we hope that with our involvement it can become stronger and more sustainable.

“The site will also provide several development initiatives for the club.

“This is a major step forward and puts us in a position to strengthen the club in the years to come.”


LONDON SKOLARS coach Joe Mbu is hopeful he will be able to recall Liam O’Callaghan into his squad to face Swinton on Sunday.

Mbu erred on the side of caution for the trip to Keighley on Sunday and rested the 27-year-old.

“Liam has been going really well for us, not only in attack, but defensively as well, but he picked up a little niggle so we were being cautious and sat him out,” said Mbu.

“He’ll probably only miss a week or so and we’ll see how his recovery goes this week and take it from there.

“Hopefully it won’t be much longer than that but we made hard decision to say, it’s still early in the season so we can be cautious with injuries. If you stay there with a niggle, you tend to have an up and down season because you’re ok one week and then not.

“I’d rather sit him out now, give him a bit of a rest and make sure that the injuries goes away and he comes back stronger.”


ROCHDALE HORNETS centre Tom Ashton was quick to praise his team mates following a three-try man of the match performance against London Skolars recently.

The 29-year-old returned to the Hornets line up for the game and believes the all round team effort that day was key to his success and could push the club towards promotion to the Championship this year.

“It was a long journey for the boys so the legs are always a bit tired coming off the bus,” Ashton said in an OuRLeague interview ahead of the weekend’s trip to Cornwall.

“I hadn’t played for five weeks so it just nice to be back on the pitch and get some tries. But really a lot of those tries were off the back of good team plays so credit to all the boys.

“We put in another group performance but I don’t think we were at our best and we have still got a lot to work on.

“We had a big pre-season and have been doing all the right things in training.

“Beating Oldham and Hunslet were both really good wins for us and has set a marker for what we can achieve and what we can do this year

“When we lost to North Wales in Round One we had a few boys missing and the lads that have come back in since in have had a big impact and hopefully we will be up there in contention at the end of the year.”


MIDLANDS HURRICANES coach Richard Squires is delighted to finally have the services of former Batley forward Anthony Bowman available to him.

The utility player joined the club in November but had to wait until the round three clash against Cornwall to get his first taste of action with the Hurricanes. He didn’t feature in the following two games as he continues to make progress from a knee injury that disrupted his 2021 season.

“When he came back it was his first game in over seven months so it was great to see him on a rugby field again,” said Squires.

“It allowed us to give him some minutes and assess where he was going forward.

“He went through last season at Batley with a knee injury and really struggled with it. He still had that when he came to us and the best option was for us to it sorted.

“He had his meniscus repaired in December, and they also repaired a bit of the bone so it’s taken a bit longer than anticipated to get it right. We didn’t want to rush him back into anything and then risk losing him again.

“He hadn’t played since August so that time was perfect for him to get back into the groove.”


WEST WALES RAIDERS coach Ash Bateman has pledged to make his team more competitive after a difficult start to the season.

The Llanelli side suffered defeats by Swinton, Rochdale and Oldham, conceding 234 points in the process, before forfeiting their home clash with Doncaster after being unable to secure the services of a duty doctor.

Chairman Andrew Thorne says the cancellation was a one-off and insists there is no threat to Saturday’s home game against Keighley.

And former player Bateman, who didn’t take the reins until late February, is trying to bolster the squad.

“We have a talented group, but most are very raw in Rugby League terms,” he explained. “Since the Oldham game, we have been looking to bring in experienced boys whom the young lads can learn from.

“We are a work in progress and I want to build over a couple of years to bring the boys on to compete with the top teams in the league.

“We have a massive injury list at the moment, but players are working to get back and with new ones coming in, we will only get better.”


CORNWALL will continue to improve as the season goes on according to prop forward Jack Ray.

The league’s newest side have yet to gain their maiden win, but the prop, who, prior to Sunday’s visit of Rochdale, had started every game for Neil Kelly’s men, can see that things are moving in the right direction.

“Week on week, the progression is getting better and despite the scorelines not reflecting that, when you look back at our games, there are little things that need changing. They are only subtle changes too,” said Ray, who is happy with his own personal contribution.

“We are in a good place and that is only demonstrated by our improvement in performances.

“I am happy with how I have performed. The middles haven’t been bullied and despite it being a big job to make the carries and tackles for big minutes, we have just rolled our sleeves up and got on with that.

“We have stood up to the challenge well and it is just a case of building on what we have improved on already.”


DONCASTER have added another Wakefield Trinity youngster to their ranks by signing prop Pat O’Donovan on loan.

The youngster has developed through the youth ranks at the Super League club and joined the first-team setup at the start of 2021.

He has joined fellow Wakefield loanee Kobe Poching, as well as former team mates Aaron York and Leon Ruan at the club.

Loui McConnell has also returned to the club on loan after temporarily returning to his parent club, Featherstone Rovers, over the past couple of weeks.

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