Betfred League One news round-up

KEIGHLEY COUGARS underlined their ambitions last week with signing of Dane Chisholm – and the halfback says those ambitions are the very reason he has signed for the club.

Rhys Lovegrove’s side have a perfect win record from the first six rounds of the campaign after victory at West Wales Raiders.

They were already considered favourites by many to claim the League One title and earn promotion to the Championship before a ball had been thrown, after a strong recruitment drive.

And the arrival of Chisholm, from Featherstone Rovers on a permanent deal until the end of 2023, demonstrated that they are not done yet.

“I’m really excited to be coming to a club with big ambitions,” said Chisholm, who helped Bradford Bulls to promotion from the third tier in 2018 and has also played for Melbourne Storm, Hull KR and Sheffield Eagles, as well as London Broncos on loan last month after falling out of favour at Featherstone.

“It was a big part of my decision in signing with the Cougars. We already have a really strong squad and I hope to add value to that.

“From when I have been to Cougar Park to watch Jake Webster, I know the fan base here is a really passionate one and I can’t wait to play in front of them.

“I have experience in League One and know what it takes to get out of this division and into the Championship.”

Keighley have also brought prop Toby Everett in on loan from Batley Bulldogs, following a shoulder injury which has ruled Anesu Mudoti out for up to two months.

Meanwhile, the Cougars’ fixture this Sunday at home to Rochdale Hornets will be dedicated to raising awareness of mental health, with a series of events taking place in conjunction with their official mental health partners It’s Worth Talking About and Rugby League Cares.


HUNSLET head coach Alan Kilshaw is looking forward to giving Connor Moore and Dan Okoro a run of games after the duo returned to the club on three-week loans.

The two Hull KR forwards initially linked up with Hunslet over Easter, with both featuring in their narrow home loss to Keighley Cougars on Good Friday.

Moore and Okoro came back on board last week and Kilshaw is happy to have them in his squad with fixtures against Swinton Lions and West Wales Raiders to come in the next two weeks.

“They’re local lads, they’re Leeds lads,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for them to play first-grade rugby, and it’s good for the club to have players of that quality playing for us.

“They went well in the Keighley game, they went back to play for their parent club in the Reserves but that was called off.

“Now they’ll get a good run of three games with us, all being well.”

Kilshaw was also pleased with the permanent young members of his squad following a hard-fought win at Midlands Hurricanes the weekend before last.

“I was very pleased to get the win, and in that fashion in particular, in a grind,” he said.

“We’ve fallen short in a couple of close games this year and we’ve got to learn how to win those games.

“We’ve got a young side. When you come out of Academy into first grade you’re only going to learn winning and losing when you’re in that game. It’s secondary at Academy level, it’s more about development.

“So game management across the board, what’s on the clock, what have we just done in terms of completing a set and have we got momentum, all those things you need to learn how to play.

“That’s why I’m confident the group will improve and be much better in the second half of the season.”


SWINTON LIONS coach Allan Coleman says that the return of Lewis Else is a “massive boost” for the club.

The halfback signed ahead of this season from Widnes Vikings but only played one game, in the Challenge Cup defeat to North Wales Crusaders in February, before stepping back due to work commitments.

Swinton kept his registration and Else’s situation has now changed, enabling him to return to training last week and put himself in contention to play in yesterday’s clash with London Skolars.

Coleman confirmed that Else would be part of the squad again for the foreseeable future and expressed his delight

“He got back in touch and said that he’s back local, which is a massive boost for us,” explained the Lions boss.

“In the Keighley game (two weeks ago) we were playing with no halfbacks. In this sport you need someone to organise the team and Lewis brings that to us.

“He’s not played a league game so it’s a massive boost for us in quality with him coming back.”

That Cougars clash, a 30-0 loss, preceded a two-week break which Coleman says came at a good time to enable Swinton to reset after consecutive defeats, the first of them to North Wales Crusaders.

“We’ve had to do some big thinking after the last two results,” he said. “I’ve not been happy with the last two performances at all.

“We’ve just done a bit of soul searching and been working hard really. It came at the right time for us to sort some things that we’ve not been getting right.”


CORNWALL head coach Neil Kelly has warned his locally-based players that they need to adapt to being in a professional team.

The new club recruited a mix of players from Rugby League backgrounds and those from the Duchy, many of whom had limited experience in the code and a rugby union background.

Cornwall’s start to life in League One has not been getting any easier, going into yesterday’s game at Hunslet with five defeats from five.

They were nilled for the first time the previous week at home to Rochdale Hornets in a 50-point defeat, and Kelly has warned that his players need to step up to the plate.

“I’d be lying if I said I thought we’d thoroughly adopted being professional,” he told BBC Radio Cornwall.

“It’s one thing having nice kit to wear and supplements for your diet and staying in a nice hotel when you go away from home and all those things, they’re things that should be provided to professionals. But it doesn’t make you professional.

“You’ve got to adopt a professional attitude, and I feel as though – and I’m probably directly speaking to the Cornish rugby union players that we’ve signed on – I’d be lying if I said they’d fully adopted being a professional.

“They’ve enjoyed that environment, but you’ve also got to adopt a professional (attitude) and it’s when you adopt it and you start thinking like a professional that you make those improvements within your game.”

Cornwall added to their squad last week with the signing of teenage back-row Will Odgers from West Wales Raiders on a deal until the end of the season.


DONCASTER halfback Connor Robinson says that the bar has been set for their performances after their biggest win of the season so far.

Two late Robinson penalties earned a 16-12 win over Oldham the weekend before last, the first time the Dons had beaten a likely play-off rival this season after losses to Swinton Lions and Keighley Cougars in the early weeks of the campaign.

“I was the first one to stand up in the changing room and say we’ve set the bar now and we can’t dip below that,” said the former Hull KR, Halifax and York player.

“We’ve got to just keep going if we want to be there or thereabouts towards the end of the season we’ve got to perform like that. The games before that we haven’t done that.”

Yesterday’s test against early-season leaders North Wales Crusaders is followed this Sunday by a trip to the capital to tackle London Skolars.


LONDON SKOLARS coach Joe Mbu hopes his side will learn lessons from a tough start to the season to be a better side towards the end of the year.

Skolars had lost all five of their opening games ahead of yesterday’s trip to Swinton Lions, including a club-record 96-0 defeat at Keighley Cougars the previous week.

And with Doncaster and Oldham visiting their New River Stadium home in the coming weeks, things won’t get any easier for the capital club.

“You want your toughest games to see where you are as a team and where you are within the league,” said Mbu.

“It allows you to look at what you need to do as a team and how you can work towards implementing what your goals are for the season.

“I’d much rather have the tough run early doors, and towards the back end hopefully we’ll have learned enough to hold ourselves in a good position.”


MIDLANDS HURRICANES coach Richard Squires has urged patience as his side look to build on a promising run of performances.

The past month has brought big victories over Cornwall and London Skolars, posting 60 and 50 points respectively, followed by one-score defeats to promotion hopefuls North Wales Crusaders and Hunslet.

Squires felt the win was there for the taking at home to Hunslet if only they were more composed.

“We weren’t patient enough,” he said. “We’ve got to set a platform and play off that, and we didn’t do that.

“We tried to play when we shouldn’t have played. It’s a patience game, they’re 40-minute halves and we need to build into it.”

After last week’s task at Rochdale Hornets, Midlands have a blank weekend coming up, and therefore two weeks to prepare for another tricky challenge on the road at Keighley Cougars.


NORTH WALES CRUSADERS completed what they set out to achieve in the first stage of the season and are looking to continue their momentum by doing the same in the coming two months.

Anthony Murray’s side were top of the table with six wins from six heading into yesterday’s away clash at Doncaster.

It begins a run of five tricky fixtures across May and June, with Oldham and Keighley Cougars coming to Colwyn Bay before a trip to Hunslet and the Doncaster reverse.

Murray says that the Crusaders have set goals for this block of fixtures having been spot-on through the first half-dozen games of the campaign.

“That was our sole aim at the start of this season, to make sure we started well, following the momentum we had at the back end of last season,” said the North Wales head coach.

“We started that with our early form in the Challenge Cup and that’s kicked on into our league campaign.

“Full credit to the players. We set some in-house goals for our first six games and we’ve achieved what we wanted to.

“We’ve got another block of five games now that are a real strong test for us. We’ll get together again and set some goals for what we want out of these five games.”


OLDHAM coach Stuart Littler says his side have had a “laser-like focus” on toppling North Wales Crusaders having not had a game this past weekend.

The Roughyeds have had a bye week following a narrow defeat at Doncaster, their third loss of the season along with two wins and a draw.

It was training as normal last week even without a match, with all eyes on a big trip to in-form North Wales Crusaders this Saturday.

“Anthony Murray and Alan Hadcroft (North Wales head coach and assistant coach) are good friends of mine, and they’re doing really well and have been for a few years now,” said Littler.

“They’ve steadily built and progressed each year and built a formidable side, as has showed with the start to the season. They’re the form team along with Keighley.

“We’ve no doubt what challenge that will bring. We’ll be preparing ourselves to show our best version of ourselves and build on that last performance.

“There’s loads of positives to take out of that Doncaster game, we weren’t far off. But the proof is in the pudding and we need points at the end of the day.

“So we’re working hard, we’ll have a laser-like focus on North Wales because we’re getting a longer time to prep for them. We’re under no illusions we’ll need to be at our best to beat them.”


ROCHDALE HORNETS have bolstered their forward ranks with the addition of Fenton Rogers on a season-long loan from Huddersfield Giants.

The 18-year-old prop his making his second move away from the Super League side, having made one appearance on loan at Oldham last season.

Afterwards, former Saddleworth Rangers junior Rogers signed his first professional contract at Huddersfield, and he will hope to push towards contention for their first team by impressing in League One between now and the end of the year.

Rochdale chairman Andy Mazey is happy to have Rogers on board to complement a front row which includes hugely experienced figures like Fuifui Moimoi, Gavin Bennion, and Sean Penkywicz.

“Fenton is a player Matt (Calland, Hornets head coach) and I have discussed numerous times and I know Matt really admires,” said Mazey.

“He’s highly rated at Huddersfield so it’s a boost to be able to welcome him to Hornets as we look to keep building on a solid start to the campaign.”

Rochdale travel to in-form Keighley Cougars this Sunday.


WEST WALES RAIDERS forward Will Odgers has departed the club and joined League One rivals Cornwall.

The Barry-born 19-year-old, a youth international with Wales, joined the Raiders ahead of this season from Huddersfield Giants’ Academy.

But he only made three appearances for the club before departing – twice against Swinton Lions in 96-0 and 82-4 defeats in cup and league respectively, and finally in their 100-4 loss to Oldham in the third round of League One games.

After joining Cornwall, Odgers said: “I’m buzzing to be part of this opportunity and I have always believed that in life you only have a few chances, but you must take them with both hands.”

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