Kingston Press Championship Round 6 Previews

This week the Kingstone Press Championship reaches Round 6 of this season’s competition, with two games scheduled for Saturday and four for Sunday.

Full reports from each game will appear in Monday’s League Express.

Saturday March 12

London Broncos v Dewsbury Rams (3:00)

London Broncos made it four wins out of five in the Championship with their 29-22 victory over Halifax. Coach Andrew Henderson said: “It’s a great result for us. We’d had a good start to the season and had to continue that momentum.

“It was a real test of the players’ character. With this team this year there’s a different attitude, a different steel and resilience within it and I think they showed signs of that. Defensively we just managed to scramble and keep turning up for each other and just did enough.

“If you’d have said to me at the start of the season we’d win four out of five I would have bitten your hand off. But it’s very early in the season, I’m not getting too carried away.

“This week is another challenge. Dewsbury have been a bit of a bogey team for us if I’m honest. They will come down with confidence that they can do a job and again it’s just about us. We’ve just got to continue to work hard. We’ve got to work harder than any other team in this competition to get what we want at the end of the year and that’s the mentality we’ve got to have this week.”

Hooker James Cunningham is a doubt after picking up a dead leg

Dewsbury Rams lost 21-20 at Featherstone Rovers last week. Coach Glenn Morrison said: “I said before the game it was going to have a Grand Final feel about it and Grand Finals are often won in that 80th minute. There’s a team in the dressing room that’s going to feel elated and one that’s going to feel deflated and unfortunately we were the ones that were deflated. We put in such a great effort to get the job done. A couple of calls and the bounce of the ball went against us at the wrong time and that’s all it takes to lose.

“We beat London Broncos four times last year, including in London, unfortunately they beat us when it mattered to make the final. We know if we turn up to play we’ve got the game to be able to beat them but they can also do us, so we’ll go there confident but we know we have to be on the money to be there are thereabouts.”


Sheffield Eagles v Whitehaven (3:00)

Sheffield Eagles lost 36-28 at Leigh Centurions. Coach Mark Aston said: “I thought we acquitted ourselves quite well. With three minutes to go it was 28-28 and I thought we would have gone on and won the game. So I’m a little bit disappointed but we certainly did ourselves a power of good, we know now we’re capable of competing with the best with a very young squad. I was proud of them.

“Whitehaven are big and strong and have got some good players. Like anybody in this competition if you’re not on top of your game you can get beat. They’ve got quality all over the park and certainly got a lot of ability and they know how to grind out a victory.

“We’ve got a bit of confidence from our last game. We need to challenge them, work hard defensively and get back to the benchmark we have set ourselves.”

Whitehaven got their first win of the season against Swinton Lions. Coach James Coyle said: “The win definitely takes a bit of pressure off. It shows we can grind a result out, I think that’s the most important thing. At 12-12 they probably looked stronger and we could have crumbled at that point but we didn’t, we kicked on and found a way to get the result.

“It’s definitely going to be tough this week. I’ve watched Sheffield play and they’re really fit. They play very similarly to what they have done in the last few years, a lot of high percentage rugby. They complete their sets and build pressure. It’s always difficult to play against teams like that, so it’s going to be a tough task now that they are that 10 percent fitter, which means they can last longer in the arm wrestle and push that extra yard.

“They’re going to be very hard to compete with and we’ve picked up a few injuries so I don’t know what the squad is going to be.”


Sunday March 13

Batley Bulldogs v Bradford Bulls (3:00)

Batley Bulldogs top the Kingstone Press Championship table following their win over Workington Town and coach John Kear reflects on the best start the club have had during his tenure. “We’re playing really well and demonstrating consistently good performances but there’s still areas for improvement,” he said. “That was the heartening thing when we looked at the review and it wasn’t just me suggesting it, it was the players.

“There’s still more improvement in them as they get more and more used to playing with each because there’s half a dozen players who are completely new to the squad.

“We’re demanding more of ourselves but my job’s to keep their feet on the ground and make sure they continue to apply themselves on the training field, in team meetings and obviously on the playing field.”

“I think this Sunday is going to be a massive occasion. We’re obviously playing one of the two favourites for the title. In the first six games we play all four of the teams who were in the middle eight last year from the Championship. Obviously it gives us a great indication of where we’re at and what our aspirations can be for the future.”

Bradford Bulls are the only unbeaten side in the Championship but coach James Lowes believes they will face a stern test on Sunday at Batley. “They are a tough, tough rugby team,” he said. “John is a great bloke and he’ll have them highly motivated. He runs on energy and attitudes within the game. He’ll certainly have his side fired up for the game.

“Batley have got off to a great start this year and deservedly so. You’ve got to be on your game to beat Batley and you’ve got to be on your game to win at their place. John has got a good environment going on there.

“Leigh went to Batley at the start of the season and got beat, so we’ve got to be on our game and go there with the right attitude. We’ve got to take the weather and the slope out of contention and just go and play some rugby.”


Halifax v Leigh Centurions (3:00)

Richard Marshall’s Halifax team pushed London Broncos all the way last week: “We were pleased with certain aspects of our performance last week against London,” he said. “We broke the line a couple of times but couldn’t get the final pass so that’s something we need to improve upon. Our discipline has to improve.

“It doesn’t get any easier this week against Leigh but it’s one we’re looking forward to. Leigh bring a physical package when they come across and we need to more than match that but we need to keep our discipline as well but also enjoy playing at home and have our best play on show this weekend.”

Hooker Ben Kaye suffered concussion last week and will be missing as will half-back Scott Murrell who sustained a nasty cut on his hand.


Swinton Lions v Featherstone Rovers (3:00)

Despite another competitive performance last week against Whitehaven, Swinton Lions are still searching for their first win in the Championship. Coach John Duffy: “We were very unlucky again. We had the chance to kill the game off. We had a try disallowed, which was a bit upsetting, then we had a penalty kick near the posts which we missed near the end then two drop goal attempts. We’re creating opportunities all the time it’s just our final execution, which we’ve been working on.

“It will be a tough game this week against Featherstone, they’ve got some good professionals. Their half-backs Thackeray and Briggs are superb, they’ve got Ellis at nine and Craven at one so they’re dangerous all over the park. Griffin at prop has been leading the pack so it will be a real tough game but one that we’re up for.”

A late drop-goal gave Featherstone Rovers a 21-20 victory over Dewsbury Rams last week. Coach Jon Sharp expects another stern test this week. “They are an attacking threat, averaging almost 20 points a game so we know that they can score,” he said. “Our challenge is to defend against a team that play attacking rugby but we have to be an attacking threat ourselves and improve on what we’ve done last week and the week before.”


Workington Town v Oldham (3:00)

Workington Town lost at Batley Bulldogs but coach Phil Veivers saw positives in the performance. “I thought we had a pretty good first half last week but were second best in the second half. It was a closer game than the scoreline actually resembles. There were some positives to take out of it but recognised that individual plays were off in the game which cost us dearly. We’ll try and rectify them and see where we go from there.

“Oldham are enthusiastic, I’ve watched the last two games they’ve played and have just re-signed Joe Burke as well as Gary Middlehurst, so they’ve got some guys there that I know pretty well and have coached. Anyone in this division is tough, they’re going to come up and expect to get two points off us this week.”

Oldham had their game against Bradford Bulls postponed. Coach Scott Naylor said: “We were looking forward to playing the game but we’ll go to Workington fresh, we’ve got no injuries and the lads have been training well because they’re had a weekend off.

“Workington is never an easy game, it’s a very, very hard place to go to. We know what’s expected, for some of my lads it will be the first time they’ve been there.”