If DONCASTER earn promotion to the Championship at the end of the season, the nation of Papua New Guinea will have had a good part to play.
Famously the only nation in the world where Rugby League can be considered the national sport, Papua New Guinea has made an imprint on South Yorkshire in recent times – down the M18, few are as revered in Sheffield Eagles’ history as Menzie Yere.
The country also provides two stars of Doncaster’s current side in Jason Tali and Watson Boas, who represented the Kumuls in the 2013 and 2017 World Cups respectively and are bringing their stardust to the Eco-Power Stadium.
Tali, now 35, remains a powerful presence at centre in his seventh season at the club.
And he has linked up effectively with compatriot Boas, the 27-year-old halfback who returned to Doncaster last year for a second spell.
Former Featherstone Rovers man Boas believes his link-up with Tali is one of the Dons’ biggest threats.
“The left edge has been really good and we’re scoring a lot of tries down there,” he said.
“Myself and Tali have a great understanding so it’s easy for us to work together.
“We’re building other combinations and making ourselves a big threat when it comes to facing teams in the play-offs.”
Doncaster are guaranteed to playing in the end-of-season finals but their exact finishing position in the table will be determined by results in their last two regular-season fixtures, away at Hunslet this Friday and at home to London Skolars the following Sunday (September 4).
Their cause has been boosted by the signing of Elliot Hall on loan for the remainder of the season.
The winger starred for Batley Bulldogs in 2021 but has been out favour this year at Bradford Bulls.
“He was Batley’s top scorer last season and probably hasn’t had the time on the pitch he would have liked at Bradford,” said Dons head coach Richard Horne.
“He will be a real asset for us at this stage of the season.”
Jamie Greenwood hopes to make an impact at HUNSLET sooner than he was expecting.
The hooker was due to join from the beginning of next season after impressing this year with leading NCL outfit Siddal, including scoring a try at the South Leeds Stadium in a Challenge Cup defeat to Hunslet.
But Batley Bulldogs’ recall of on-loan Oli Burton, allied with a hand injury to Cam Berry, meant the call went out from head coach Alan Kilshaw for Greenwood to come earlier than anticipated.
It will be a third spell in the professional game for Greenwood, with the previous two providing contrasting experiences.
The first was at Oldham and Greenwood, then fresh out of Huddersfield Giants’ Academy, made eleven appearances as the club were promoted out of League One through the play-offs in 2019.
He returned to the professional ranks in 2021 at Dewsbury Rams, coached at the time by his older brother Lee, but only made one appearance for the Championship club.
This latest move should prove more fruitful, considering the praise of boss Kilshaw.
“He has Betfred League One experience playing in Oldham’s promotion team in 2019 and has been a stand-out in the NCL for Siddal for the last few seasons,” he said.
“It’s a timely boost at this stage of the year to add a player of his quality to the group.”
For Greenwood, the chance to come on board now was too good to turn down even if it meant leaving Siddal behind again.
“We’re going well in the NCL with the play-offs beckoning, but I’m ambitious and joining Hunslet wasn’t a chance I could let slip,” he said.
“My immediate ambition is to play every week and, from the team’s perspective, to help us win as many games as possible.”
Hunslet’s final two games of the regular season see them host Doncaster this Friday, before a trip to Oldham on Sunday, September 4.
KEIGHLEY COUGARS have continued their future planning with the retention of forward Dan Parker on a two-year deal.
Parker first joined the club in 2018 and has been a regular feature in the side from those difficult early days – when their financial troubles forced him to leave for a spell – to the all-conquering vintage of this year.
And with the Championship looming for Keighley, Parker is looking forward to the new challenges to come.
“It was an easy decision to make when the club approached me to stay on again next year,” said the 29-year-old, formerly of Newcastle Thunder.
“I’ve been here a while now and couldn’t really imagine being anywhere else.
“The fans are outstanding and the revitalisation of the club that is being carried out by the board is second to none.
“Putting that together with the coaching staff and group of lads you’re with all the time, it was a no-brainer.
“I’m excited to continue developing under Rhys (Lovegrove, head coach) and testing myself again next year with new objectives to achieve.
“First of all though, I’m looking forward to enjoying the remainder of this unbelievable 2022 season and finishing it off strong with a great group of blokes.”
Keighley head of rugby Andrew Henderson believes Parker, who has the ability to play anywhere in the pack, is capable of making the step up.
“Dan is another player within our group that represents the Cougars way,” he said.
“He has really bought into the training programme and developed his game this year, which has allowed him to perform more consistently to a higher standard and work harder off the ball.
“Dan offers tremendous punch in his carries and has the ability to bend the line back, along with possessing a high level of skill for a big man.
“We have seen a lot of positive growth in Dan as a player this season and he is an integral part of this team.
“We look forward to seeing him rise to the challenge next season with his teammates.”
Keighley will be without Kyle Trout for the rest of the year because of a tricep injury, while Kyle Kesik and Dane Chisholm must sit out this Sunday’s home clash with North Wales Crusaders through suspension.
OLDHAM have terminated the contract of forward Jordan Andrade for “gross misconduct”.
The club announced last week that they had released the player with immediate effect, less than a month before the end of the season.
Jamaican international Andrade said on social media that being “hungover” was the reason for his sacking.
“Contract terminated after been hungover on a Saturday morning after a family celebration, I’m a part-time rugby player with two young children,” he said in reply to Oldham’s post announcing his departure.
“I have tried my best all season just to get chucked out like that and to then tweet this I am honestly gutted but nothing surprises me.
“I held my hands up and apologised for a poor choice but wasn’t enough sorry.”
The 29-year-old joined the club from Hunslet ahead of this season, having previously featured for Oxford, North Wales Crusaders, Gloucestershire All Golds, Doncaster, Bradford Bulls and Dewsbury Rams.
Andrade, whose sister Savannah is a women’s England international, has also played three times for Jamaica.
He made eleven appearances in total for the Roughyeds, who said in their statement: “The club will be making no further comment on this matter as we concentrate our efforts on the remaining three games of the league season.”
After last week’s trip to Cornwall, Oldham conclude with a visit to Swinton Lions this Sunday and a home finish against Hunslet the following week.
CORNWALL hope that the top prize in Rugby League will inspire them to a positive end to their first season.
The three Rugby League World Cup trophies visited the Duchy over the weekend, ahead of the tournament in England this autumn.
Global domination isn’t the aim just now for Cornwall, who had only recorded one win heading into their game against Oldham yesterday (Sunday), when the trophies were on show at the Memorial Ground for their final home match of the year.
But they will look to end a generally low-key inaugural campaign on the field with success at Midlands Hurricanes in their final game on September 4.
“The three trophies are world famous and to have them in Cornwall, supporting our journey and development whilst we support the biggest and most inclusive World Cup ever, is something we as a club have been working on for a number of months,” said Rob Butland, Cornwall RLFC’s chief commercial officer.
“The Rugby League World Cup 2021 trophies being with us as we bring the curtain down on the Mem for 2022 signifies a fitting end to a landmark year for rugby league in Cornwall, and for Cornwall RLFC.”
LONDON SKOLARS forward Lameck Juma has avoided a ban for the professional foul that brought him a yellow card in the club’s defeat at Oldham.
A disappointing 60-6 loss at the Vestacare Stadium to an Oldham side who were only a point above them in the table prior to the match – and fell at the New River Stadium earlier in the campaign – all but ended Skolars’ hopes of finishing above a traditional heartland club this season.
Juma, their only try scorer in the game, was shown yellow for obstructing the hosts’ Logan Astley early in the second half.
The match review panel agreed that Juma had pulled the opponent back but decided to take no further action.
He is now free to play in Skolars’ final two matches of the season, at home to Midlands Hurricanes this Saturday, and away at Doncaster the following week.
MIDLANDS HURRICANES will have next season firmly in mind as they navigate the final weeks of this one.
They only have league position left to play for in the closing rounds, as last week’s trip to West Wales Raiders is followed over the next two weekends by London Skolars away and Cornwall at home.
Head coach Richard Squires will be looking to the future, including giving game time to youngsters such as James Phillips, who scored two tries on debut against West Wales earlier in the year.
“We’ll be switching things up a lot, we’ll be bringing some lads in who haven’t played many games this year with a view to next year,” said Squires.
“We’ll play three or four 17-year-old kids who have been training with us all year and have come from rugby union backgrounds, just to give them a taste of it and integrate them for next year.
“And we’ll try different combinations that we’d like to brush up for next year.”
Hull KR loanees Bailey Dawson and Tom Wilkinson will also get more game time, with Squires expressing a desire to make their moves permanent in 2023.
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS have a challenging run-in but head coach Anthony Murray says it is perfect preparation for the play-offs.
Following last week’s visit of Rochdale Hornets, North Wales go to leaders Keighley Cougars this Sunday before finishing the regular season at home to Swinton Lions – a match on September 3 that will now take place at Warrington’s Victoria Park due to renovation work at Eirias Stadium.
“They’re really competitive games and that can only hold you in good stead heading into the play-offs, because you’re going to go up against them in the play-offs as well somewhere along the line,” said Murray.
“Even though the league run-in is a really tough one, it’s good preparation for the play-offs.”
Murray is aiming to bow out on a high at the end of the season after announcing his intention to depart, and he believes they are in a stronger position to achieve promotion than last year, when their form fell away in the play-offs.
“We have got a decent strength in depth this year so we’ve got the opportunity to rotate, to keep players fresh which is massively important,” he said.
“This year, that’s probably where we’re a little bit better than last year. We have that ability to rotate our squad a little bit more, if we manage to stay away from injuries – touch wood.”
ROCHDALE HORNETS captain Sean Penkywicz has announced his immediate retirement from Rugby League at the age of 40.
The former Super League player and Wales international said it was the “right time” to hang up his boots, drawing the curtain on a 22-year career.
Penkywicz began at Halifax, debuting in 2000, and had a two-year spell at Huddersfield Giants before returning to Fax.
Later in his career, the halfback or hooker also featured for Leigh Centurions, Toronto Wolfpack and Workington Town, before joining Rochdale in 2020.
“I feel like it’s the right time to step away from the game,” said Penkywicz.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have a long, enjoyable career and I’d like to thank everyone who’s helped make that possible.”
Meanwhile, Fenton Rogers has been banned for three matches for a headbutt in Rochdale’s recent tempestuous win over Cornwall.
Rogers was dismissed for the offence and will now miss their final two matches of the season – at home to West Wales Raiders and Keighley Cougars – plus the opening round of the play-offs.
SWINTON LIONS coach Allan Coleman congratulated Dan Abram on breaking two club goal records in their recent win at West Wales Raiders.
Abram kicked 15 goals – out of 16 attempts – in the 94-6 victory to break the all-time Lions record for goals in a game.
The fullback now has 129 goals in total for the season, more than any other other Swinton player has achieved before in a single campaign.
There is also another milestone in sight for Abram, who went into the clash with Hunslet yesterday (Sunday) needing only 36 more points to break the club record for points in a season.
“It was fantastic to see Dan break the records,” said Coleman, whose side host Oldham this Sunday before finishing their campaign against North Wales Crusaders at Warrington’s Victoria Park.
“With his kicking for the last few weeks, he’s been absolutely superb with the boot.”
Swinton have boosted their squad with the return of Brad Holroyd on loan from Widnes Vikings.
WEST WALES RAIDERS will be the first League One club to bring their season to a close.
Their second bye weekend of the season comes in the final round of fixtures, meaning their campaign ends this Sunday, when they travel to Rochdale Hornets.
Craig Lewis will miss the fixture after receiving a one-match ban for using foul and abusive language towards a match official.
The incident occurred during West Wales’ recent 94-6 defeat at home to Swinton Lions, drawing a yellow card at the time.
After that heavy loss, the Raiders posted a statement on their website seeking patience from supporters as another season of struggle on the field comes towards its conclusion.
“As a club we are always looking to grow and learn,” they said.
“Plans for 2023 have already begun and will be the first time since the club went in to the professional leagues to have the same staff leading into the new season.
“In a year that has shown the strain on most for the massive decline in funding, we want to prove what we are trying to build and develop by also being self-sustainable and supporting the whole game in Wales.
“We try to listen to all the comments, emails and discussions in person to improve as a club, so please give us a little more patience as we strive to be a club that everyone can be proud of both on and off the pitch.”
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