Championship developing nicely

GARETH WALKER, the Championship correspondent of League Express, takes stock of the Championship ahead of this afternoon’s games

THREE games into the new Kingstone Press Championship season, and what have we learnt about the 12 clubs so far?
As expected, Hull KR sit top of the table with three wins from three – but coach Tim Sheens has found room for improvement in each performance against Bradford, London and Rochdale. Expect them to improve sharply as the season unfolds.
Featherstone Rovers are the only other undefeated side and wins over Halifax, Oldham and Batley have backed up their pre-season status as top four contenders. Jon Sharp will be pleased with their winning start.
Toulouse Olympique have racked up big home wins over Batley and Dewsbury but then gave Sheffield their only win to date on the road. Sylvain Houles is all too aware of the need to find some form on their travels, but they will test anybody in France.
Rochdale Hornets have been arguably the success story of the campaign so far, despite losing to Hull KR on Sunday. They trailed their full-time opponents just 18-20 with five minutes to play, and wins over Dewsbury and Bradford show they have little to fear in 2017.
London Broncos have ground out hard-fought, narrow wins at Swinton and Oldham, but arguably their most impressive performance came in defeat at home to Hull KR. When key men return from injury they should also be improvers.
Oldham could be sat here undefeated, but have missed late penalties against both Featherstone and London that would have given them draws. Still, those performances, plus a home win over Sheffield, bode well for Scott Naylor’s men.
Halifax chalked up a much needed 42-16 win over Sheffield at weekend after disappointing losses to Featherstone and Batley. Finding some consistency will be their next target.
Swinton Lions have tested full-time London and Bradford in narrow home defeats, and showed plenty of guts to win in the mud at Dewsbury. They will not be disheartened by their start.
Neither should be Sheffield or Batley, although both teams will be disappointed at their manner of some of their defeats to date. They play each other this weekend in what looks an important early match.
The only side without a win to date is Dewsbury Rams, who have scored just eight points and conceded 110 in their first three matches. Glenn Morrison will be hoping to turn the tide quickly, although he has another touch assignment in London at home this weekend.
Finally Bradford Bulls sit bottom, courtesy of their 12 point deduction which has now been reduced to 10 after Sunday’s win at Swinton. With experienced players coming in on a regular basis the Bulls will be keen to string a run of results together and start clawing the deficit back on those above them.

Read Monday’s League Express for Championship news and Gareth Walker’s Championship Focus column, with full reports on all the Championship matches.