League 1 Previews

Totalrl.com looks ahead to all the games that are taking place in League 1 this week.

Thursday, August 20

York City Knights v North Wales Crusaders (7.30pm)

Following their 30-22 victory at London Skolars, which keeps them in second place, York City Knights face a busy time over the next few days.

Following the game against North Wales Crusaders they take on Hemel Stags on Sunday.

Coach James Ford said: “It was a real tough game at London. They’ve improved tremendously from early in the season when we played them. With the ball they asked a lot of questions. I spoke to Jermaine after the game and he was disappointed they didn’t get more out of it and I can understand why.

“It’s going to be a tough week obviously but we’ve got a good squad and the boys are looking forward to it. Our focus is on North Wales and we’ll deal with Hemel after that. It’s a challenging week but we’ve had to face a lot of challenges this season and we seem to have dealt with most of them appropriately.”

Centre Tyler Craig is likely to be out for two weeks with a shoulder problem

North Wales Crusaders were beaten 30-14 at home by Swinton Lions. Coach Anthony Murray said: “No complaints, we were beaten fair and square. I have to say that Swinton are probably the best team we’ve played and I think they’ll go on to win it. They were really well drilled and the way they executed some of their plays was really good.

“We’ve got quite a lot of injuries and we lost Callum Wright at the weekend with a broken arm. We’ve got six first-team regulars sidelined for the rest of the season, which is obviously having a big impact.

“We’ve got 16 fit players for York on Thursday night. It’s a short turnaround but we’ve just got to deal with it and hopefully put in a half-decent performance and see if we can get anything out of the game. York are going really well, they really like to attack, so it will be a tough ask for us but we’ll try and give a good account of ourselves.”

Sunday, August 23

Newcastle Thunder v Coventry Bears (3.00pm)

Newcastle Thunder put in a much improved performance against league leaders Oldham. Coach Stanley Gene said: “I’ve been asking for honesty from the team all week and they gave me that, that’s all I can ask for. Coventry pushed Barrow last week so they’re not a soft side and they could teach us a lesson that Gloucester taught us. But that good performance against Oldham will probably give us a lift and we’ll hopefully get back to winning ways.”

Tom Tsang’s Coventry Bears got back to winning ways last week: “It was a good performance,” he said. “It was similar to how we’ve started the last four or five games. We started off really strong in the first half, the difference being that we managed to get over the try line and build up a decent lead.

“We played some good stuff. I don’t think the lads are used to being in that position because they took their foot off the gas a bit and full credit to South Wales they really stuck in there and made it tough for us.”

Looking ahead to this week’s challenge he said: “Newcastle have got class players across the field. Their recent form hasn’t been as good as how they started the season but I know that they’ll be wanting to finish the season strongly. It’s going to be a tough game. It’s a long journey for us but we’ll be buoyed up from the win and also from the run of performances we had going into the South Wales game. We’re improving week-on-week quite dramatically, hopefully now we can kick on and finish the season strongly.”

Oldham v Barrow Raiders (3.00pm)

Oldham were given a fright at Newcastle Thunder before coming through with the win. Coach Scott Naylor said: “It was a very hard game. Newcastle had a few players back and it was probably the strongest team they’ve put out in weeks. They came out and had a real go at us and probably put us off our game a little bit. We made a lot of mistakes and felt under pressure but we defended our line really well and to come in at half-time 10-6 behind, was a good scoreline for us really.

“We knew if we fixed a few things up, had a bit more possession and field position we’d score points. We had to keep Newcastle out and that’s what we did.

“It’s up to us to keep winning games and if we do that then we’ll put ourselves in a position where we can’t be caught. We should finish in the top five but we’d like to finish in the top two now we’re so close. If we beat Barrow at the weekend we should finish in the top two.”

Barrow Raiders lost at Keighley Cougars by one point. Coach Paul Crarey said: “We dominated the game for probably 76 minutes and were hard done to on a couple of calls. It was a great game of rugby, it had everything really; both sides went at it with real passion.

“We didn’t get the result but we needed a performance, especially this week going to Oldham who are the form team. We have beaten them so we know how to do it but I think it will be hard at their place.

“The lads are up for it and will be ready to go. We need to go there and put in a performance again and get the result.”

Rochdale Hornets v Keighley Cougars (3.00pm)

Rochdale Hornets won 54-16 at Oxford but it wasn’t their greatest performance according to coach Ian Talbot: “The result’s the important thing,” he said. “If you’d have given us that scoreline before the game, we’d have taken it. It was a potential banana skin going down to Oxford, so we’re happy with the outcome.

“Keighley were pushed all the way by Barrow last week and we’re all scrapping for top five places. We’re scrapping with a couple of clubs for that fifth spot so we need to be at our best at the weekend to get the points.”

Paul March, the Keighley Cougars coach, was happy for his team to get the two points in their match against Barrow Raiders: “Early on in the game I thought we were in control, then a couple of lapses in concentration allowed them to get some momentum,” he said. “It made it tough for us but we still had the belief and the character to come back even though we were nine points down with 10 minutes to go. It was a bit nailbiting at the death. You need a bit of luck to reach goals and I think we definitely use one of the lucky cards at the weekend.

“We’ve got another tough one this week at Rochdale. We did a number on them at home so they’ll be wanting a bit of revenge but if we want to achieve our goals we’ve got to beat sides like Rochdale. We’ll go there full of confidence and hopefully we’ll have a few players back.”

Utility player Scott Lee is doubtful with an elbow injury

South Wales Scorpions v Oxford (3.00pm)

A poor start by South Wales Scorpions in their game at Coventry Bears cost them dearly according to coach Mike Grady: “We conceded five tries in the first 26 minutes then won 18-12 in the last 54 minutes,” he said. “It’s frustrating, we know we can do it. We have a purple patch in most games and normally we start well. I was disappointed in that first 26 minutes but we got it back together and hopefully build on that going into the next game.

“We had a close game against Oxford at their place. It’s encouraging times; hopefully the boys know that we’re not far away and we’ll have another go at them.”

Conversely, according to Oxford coach Tim Rumford, his side started well against Rochdale Hornets before going down 54-16. “We stopped completing our sets,” he said. “There were some positives to come out of the game, it’s down to the little one per cent of things you do at the end of a set to finish it off – we’re just gifting teams like Rochdale field position.

“We play South Wales this weekend and unless we show a more disciplined approach, finish our sets well and make the other team really fight to get into our half then we’re going to come up with problems further down the line no matter who we play.”

Centre Josh Nathaniel is a doubt with severe bruising to the shin.

Swinton Lions v University of Gloucestershire All Golds (3.00pm)

Swinton Lions coach John Duffy was pleased with his side’s 30-14 win over North Wales Crusaders: “They’ve been going well this year and we hadn’t beaten them this season so it was a good to get a result against them,” he said.

“Gloucester had a good result at Hemel and caused us a few problems early doors when we played down there so we’re going to have to make sure we start big and really maintain our big start and get a result.”

University of Gloucestershire All Golds picked up another good win last week at Hemel Stags. Coach Lee Greenwood: “We showed some good character. A handful of the lads dragged us through, there were some real top efforts. When we were 12 points down I was thinking the best we could do was a draw. It’s another learning curve but it’s good to learn when you win as well.

“We know it’s going to be a challenge at Swinton but we won’t shy away from it. We’ve improved in the last few weeks and we want a strong finish. We’re expected to get beat pretty comfortably but we want to put on a good show. We got hammered by them at home so we want to see how far we have come from there. We certainly want to improve on that result.”

York City Knights v Hemel Stags (3.00pm)

Troy Perkins, the Hemel Stags coach, wasn’t happy after his side’s 38-34 defeat to University of Gloucestershire All Golds last week. “I was very frustrated and disappointed,” he said. “For 80 per cent of the game we were much the better team. We scored some great tries and generally 34 points will win you a game but unfortunately to concede three tries in the last eight minutes, we literally gave the game away at the end.

“Hopefully York will be a bit jaded after their game against Crusaders, which may work in our favour. York have lost their dual-reg players but they’ve been grinding out wins. They’re second for a reason; because they’re a good team, they’re well-organised with a lot of young, enthusiastic players. They blew us away the last time we played them at home so we need to get in that arm wrestle and compete a lot better. If we can put together an 80-minute performance, I think we’ll be competitive and give ourselves a chance.”