Saturday July 18
Gloucestershire All Golds v Oxford (3.00)
Gloucestershire All Golds lost to York City Knights last week and coach Lee Greenwood said: “There’s some mental toughness issues with some of the guys. As soon as they tire they don’t want to put that bit of extra effort in. You get found out by the better teams, York are one of the better teams and they did that, they’ve got some smart players.
“Obviously Tim (Rumford) will be disappointed with Oxford’s performance last week and he’ll be looking for a big response, as I will be from our players. Last time we played them they out-enthused us and we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again on Saturday.
“They’re just two points above us in the table, but we’ve got a better points difference so we know if we beat them we’ll go above them and that’s our motivation.”
Oxford are looking to bounce back after being beaten 96-4 by Swinton Lions. Coach Tim Rumford said: “It was a fair old hiding; they’ll have to go away, lick their wounds and learn from it. The big thing now is to get the boys up for the game against Gloucester.
“There were a few players from the local area who played against Swinton who hadn’t played before. They put their hands up and asked for a shot and to a degree it’s a sharp learning curve for them. It also highlights how much learning and development these players have got to undertake before we get serious about them playing professional Rugby League regularly.
“It’s very difficult to keep them motivated and playing with hidings like that. The way forward is to make sure that doesn’t happen again, it’s no good for the game or the club.
“There will be a lot of changes in our team this week. There’ll certainly have to be a change in attitude and a really big emphasis on character and getting people back up. But what an opportunity it represents for us to turn round a massive loss like that with a win.
“Our challenge is to get people talking positively about us again.”
Barrow Raiders v North Wales Crusaders (6.30)
Barrow Raiders coach Paul Crarey was happy with his side’s 38-12 victory over London Skolars: “We’re always happy with a win, especially the way we are at the moment with a few injuries,” he said. “We had a lot of young kids out on Sunday. We started off really well, got bogged down with some slow rucks but scored some good tries and got the win.
“We were a bit flat, so we’re looking for a bit more enthusiasm this week against North Wales because it will be really tough. They’re going well and putting points on the board but they’ve also come unstuck a couple of times.
“We’ve been pretty good at home this year, so it will be a big test for both sides. Whoever stays in the grind the longest will win. We only lost the game away to them at the back end when we ran out of bodies.
“They will be well-drilled and can call on dual-registered players, so we’re preparing for a tough game. We’ve got Jamie Tracey in from Leigh this week, a raw-boned back rower who hits hard and runs hard.”
Prop Anthony Bate is a doubt with a back problem and loose forward Danny Toal has a knee injury but Crarey is hopeful that both will be fit.
North Wales Crusaders won their derby match against South Wales Scorpions 56-10. Coach Anthony Murray said: “It was a good result. It was a derby game so I was really pleased with how we went about our business. To score 56 points and only concede 10 was really pleasing; we’ve scored over 100 points in our last two games and conceded 14, so I’ve got to be pleased with that.
“It’s going to be a totally different game on Saturday. Obviously Barrow, like ourselves, are up near the top of the table and their home form has been very good this year so it will be a difficult day for us. It’s an important fixture and one we firmly believe we can get something out of. It will be tough but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Wing Rob Massam returns as do loose forward Gary Middlehurst and Ben Jullien.
Sunday July 19
Keighley Cougars v Swinton Lions (3.00)
Keighley Cougars’ coach Paul March said his team will have to raise their intensity this week following their 42-10 victory at Coventry Bears: “Obviously we were happy with the two competition points but I thought the game was very slow. This week we come up against a Swinton side who did a number on us over at their place. It’s a game which everyone wants to play in, we’re looking forward to it.
“We’re looking to lift the intensity this week and over the next couple of weeks because we’ve got Newcastle next week and Oldham the week after. We’ve got a massive challenge ahead of us.”
Loose forward Ash Lindsay is out with a broken leg.
Looking back at the 96-4 victory over Oxford, Swinton Lions coach John Duffy said: “It was a good performance last week, which is what we asked for during the week.
“It’s a massive game this week against a very, very good Keighley side. We’re going to have to prepare well and be on top of our game if we want to get a result.”
London Skolars v Oldham (3.00)
Reflecting on the 38-12 defeat at Barrow Raiders, London Skolars coach Jermaine Coleman said: “There was a lot of desire and commitment, just poor execution and poor skill. We didn’t really play to any structure and our completion was appalling.
“After 60 minutes we were at 30 per cent so on reflection it’s not a bad result but we didn’t give ourselves an opportunity really. We defended quite well given the amount of defensive work we had to do but let ourselves down with the ball – we never tested them or put them under pressure.
“Looking at the squad, it’s pretty much the team that played at the start of the season when they were beaten by York and Swinton by 70 and 80 points so it’s progression but not as much as I’d like!”
Oldham have tended to struggle against the Skolars, which his players are very aware of. “They know the teams that they tend to perform against and that was a lot of the talk by our team on the bus back and at training,” he said. “Oldham don’t necessarily travel down here very well. It’s a big challenge but one we’re looking forward to.”
Coleman and his half-back partner Mike Bishay both hope to recover from dead legs while centre Matt Cook is a doubt with a shoulder problem.
Oldham coach Scott Naylor was pleased with his side’s 38-18 win over Rochdale Hornets: “I thought for large spells of the game we were the better team,” he said. “It was a tough game, a typical derby with a lot of aggression and passion in it but I thought we came out top in both of those things. To beat our neighbours by 20 points is always nice.
Looking ahead to the challenge of the Skolars he said: “London are a team that we’ve never been comfortable against. We always seem to end up in a bit of a fight when we play them, they are tough games.
“I know their results haven’t been amazing this year but we’ll be showing them the same respect as Rochdale. It’s a long journey and it takes a hell of a lot out of you physically and mentally and there’s a lot of things that have to go right so they can play well. It’s not an easy place to go to.”
Rochdale Hornets v Coventry Bears (3.00)
Rochdale Hornets coach Ian Talbot was disappointed with his side’s performance against Oldham. “We got what we deserved,” he said. “We were in control for the first 20 minutes then seemed to switch off and let them back into the game. Then they kicked on – credit to them they were the better team over the 80 minutes.
“We have to see a response, Coventry are obviously improving with every performance. They were closer to Keighley than we were. We need an improved performance and to try and find a level of consistency in our performances; we can’t seem to back up a good one with another good one. That’s the challenge now for the next eight games until the end of the season.”
Coventry Bears coach Tom Tsang took some positives out of his side’s defeat by Keighley Cougars: “I thought there were definite improvements from previous weeks,” he said. “Our middle unit has been pretty strong over the last few weeks but again, similar to the previous week, we were weaker on our edges and that’s where Keighley got all their joy. They were much more clinical and able to exploit the opportunities they had.
“We had as many opportunities as they did but couldn’t convert them into points and lacked a bit of cutting edge in attack. That’s something we’re going to keep working hard on to try and improve.
“This week against Rochdale is going to be another tough one but if our pack performs as it has been doing for the last month, we’ll give ourselves opportunities. Then it will be up to the guys in the back line to turn those opportunities into points. We’ll be working hard in training to improve in that area but if the last two games against top opposition are anything to go by, we should be able to do a decent job in the middle, then we’ll see what happens.”
Second row Liam Thompson is doubtful with a knee problem, half-back Cameron Boulter has a hip strain and prop Morgan Evans has an ankle injury. Captain Simon Phillips returns as does wing Jamahl Hunte.
South Wales Scorpions v Hemel Stags (3.00)
Looking back on the 56-10 defeat in the Welsh derby, South Wales Scorpions coach Mike Grady said: “We were Ok for the first 25 minutes, as we were in the fixture at our place, but they are a lot better opposition and are going for the league so we’ve got to take the positives out of that first 25 minutes and go into the next game with them.
“People will say it’s a game that both teams need to win. I feel if we can perform and do the right things then we could be close to a result. I never put any pressure on winning but to get a performance would be good.”
Hooker Connor Farrer and half-back Paul Emanuelli are struggling after picking up knocks last week but forward Neil Dallimore is likely to be back
Hemel Stags coach Troy Perkins said: “I was pretty happy with how we played in patches up at Newcastle but disappointed at other times. After the game the players were very disappointed they didn’t come away with a win. The first 15 minutes were probably the best we’ve played all season and at 12-6 just a couple of basic errors put us under pressure – it’s a common theme with us. It lets other teams back into the game, which is what happened against Newcastle.
“Sunday is a great opportunity to play some good rugby and play to our potential. I’ve no doubt we can get a result but South Wales are a real gritty team. They’re improving week by week.
“They beat Skolars, who the following week beat us, so if you read into that form they’ve got to fancy themselves. I’ve got no doubt that they’ll target the games against the bottom teams and we’re one of those teams. South Wales is always a tough place to go. We can’t rest on our laurels and think that a 60-minute performance against one of the better teams in the comp is going to get us a result this week. We need to work hard and hopefully learn from our lapses in concentration last week.”
Centre Chris Monamara is very doubtful with ankle ligament damage.
York City Knights v Newcastle Thunder (3.00)
James Ford, the York City Knights coach, was happy with his side’s 50-10 win over University of Gloucestershire All Golds. He said: “We expected a tough game and to be honest I don’t think the score line reflected their effort, I thought they were pretty good. Lee Greenwood’s obviously doing a good job.
“Newcastle are a good team who have invested substantially in players and on their day they have proved this season that they can beat anybody. I’m sure it will be a keenly contested game and one that we’re looking forward to.”
Scrum-half Jordan Howden is a doubt with a knee injury.
Newcastle Thunder coach Stanley Gene wasn’t particularly pleased with his team’s victory over Hemel Stags: “A win is a win,” he said. “It’s not bad winning games when you’re not playing well. We were looking at getting a performance to go into the York and Keighley games but we didn’t. But it’s two points, we’ll move on.
“York finished top of the table last year and are a good side. We’ve beaten them twice so we’ll be full of confidence going in there.”
Reports from all the weekend’s League One matches will feature in Monday’s edition of League Express