This weekend’s League 1 Previews

Saturday Matches

Gloucestershire University All Golds v Rochdale Hornets (3.00)

Gloucestershire University All Golds got off to a winning start against South Wales Scorpions but coach LeeGreenwood expects a sterner test against Rochdale Hornets this week: “Saturday is going to be tough,” he said. “Any time you play a Northern team, we’re the underdogs. They’ve got lads who have played the game for a long time who are a lot more experienced than us.

“We’re looking to be competitive in these games without being expected to win so there’s pressure on them. We’re starting to get a team now that can compete against Northern teams. We’ll put a plan together to give them a game knowing it’s going to be difficult.”

Rochdale Hornets coach Ian Talbot said: “It’s a potential banana skin for us. We’re a bit low on confidence at the minute having lost a few games on the bounce so we can’t under estimate them in any way. It’s going to be a hard game, as it always is when there’s travelling involved.

“They’re pretty similar to ourselves in that we’ve had quite a turnaround in our personnel, it’s just a matter of seeing who can gel pretty quickly. With that win first time out they seemed to have gelled pretty rapidly whereas we’re still trying to find our feet with new combinations so it will be interesting to see where we are.

“In recent years we’d have been expected to go down there and win comfortably but I don’t think that’s going to be the case in any of the fixtures this season.”

Barrow Raiders v Swinton Lions (6.30)

Barrow Raiders are doing it tough at the moment according to coach Paul Crarey.”We’re a bit busted,” he said. “We are a little bit off where we need to be but we’re starting to get bodies back, we should have Craig Briscoe, Joe Bullock, Josh Ward available and maybe Andrew Dawson.

“With home support we’re looking to put up a good challenge against Swinton. They’ve got a good squad. They’ve built on what they had last year, they’ve bought wisely and have a lot of quality in the side. This is a real physical division and our lads have to get up to speed with that but as the season goes on we’ll learn.

“With the senior players they’ve got, we’re expecting it to be real tough. Having played on Tuesday they’ll be looking to slow everything down and we’ve got to speed everything up so we’re looking for a quick game.”

Swinton Lions beat Newcastle Thunder on Tuesday to go through into the iPro Sport Cup final which John Duffy, the coach, believes is massive for the club. “There’s been doom and gloom around here for a few years so it’s nice to see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

“I’m glad for the boys because they’ve been great all the way through pre-season but we’re going to have to look after them because we’ve got a big game at Barrow on Saturday. It’s never easy up there and after two games in four days we’re going to have to go up there with a good attitude and play tough.


Sunday April 12

Hemel Stags v Keighley Cougars (2.30)

Hemel Stags beat local rivals London Skolars in the opening league game of the season but coach Troy Perkins believes they need to improve when they take on Keighley Cougars. “Overall I was pretty happy but we know we’re going to have to be a lot better this week,” he said.

“Keighley are one of the teams predicted to win the league. I don’t know a lot about them because they haven’t been in our league before and I guess they don’t know a lot about us either. It’s going to be an interesting game. All we can do is try and improve on last week’s performance and make sure that we’re very difficult to beat at our home ground.”

Half back James Woodburn- Hall is a doubt with a leg injury.

Keighley Cougars coach Paul March was happy with his side’s victory over York City Knights but going down to Hemel will be something of a journey into the unknown: “Our completion rates were really high and we came home strong,” he said. “I’m really pleased with how we defended but Sunday is a new challenge for us.

“This will be the first time we’ve played them so we’re going into the unknown really. I know David (March) and Gav Duffy both played against Hemel for Hunslet last year so I’ll be getting a bit of feedback from them. But I think Sunday’s more about what we do. If we prepare well and go there with the right attitude and get over that long, daunting trip, I’m sure we’ll come out victors.”

Back row forward Ash Lindsay looks likely to miss the game having suffered a head injury against York.

North Wales Crusaders v Newcastle Thunder (2.30)

It’s a short turnaround for Newcastle Thunder following their midweek defeat in the iPro Sport Cup semi-final but coach Stanley Gene took plenty of positives from the game. “We’re a side that is building and we’re getting to a standard where I want the boys to be,” he said.

“Last year when we came to Swinton they flogged us 66-4. At times I thought we could have won the game. Swinton are a side with quality all over the park but we showed that we could compete at this level.

“We’ve got a massive game against North Wales. For me they are a class side who are well drilled but we will be ready.”

Oldham v Coventry Bears (3.00)

Coventry Bears are hoping it will be third time lucky when they make the trip to Whitebank Stadium for their second League 1 fixture.

Oldham have already defeated the competition’s newcomers in both the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup and iPro Sport Cup this year, results which gave Coventry some indication of the standards to which they should aspire in 2015.

But after opening their League 1 account with a 32-10 victory over Oxford on Good Friday, the Bears will travel in confident mood.

Coventry coach Tom Tsang said: “We couldn’t have asked for a better start last week. It was a decent performance and a great result but still a lot of things to work on so we’re not getting too complacent.

“This will be our third game at Whitebank in six weeks and we’ll be able to look back on that and use the experience. Hopefully we can use all the energy and enthusiasm that was garnered from the win and put it to good use against Oldham.”

Oxford v York City Knights (3.00)

Tim Rumford, the Oxford coach, is far from happy with his side’s recent performances: “I’m bitterly disappointed,” he said. “It’s not a reflection on the way we’ve prepared, our players simply haven’t approached the game with the correct attitude.

“The honeymoon period is over, we’ll be looking to bring in some players. But it happens at this level, we’re not going to cast anyone aside but it’s important we realise as a club and as individuals where we are. Having a wake-up call early on certainly won’t do us any harm.

“The game against York is going to be really tough, but it’s a great challenge. It’s our first home game of the season and there’s lots of interest around the game locally and we need to step up. We need to starting rising to these challenges. Hopefully we’ll have two or three new faces in for the weekend and hopefully that will make us competitive.

“If we can be competitive in the closing stages of the game then it will give us a chance of taking the points – that’s what we’re looking for.”

Despite last week’s defeat by Keighley, York City Knights, coach James Ford says his team can take a lot of positives out of the performance: “Given the amount of possession they had I was pretty impressed with our defensive stuff and I thought we showed a lot of character to be in the game,” he said.

“Obviously there are one or two areas we want to improve on but we knew that coming into the season. We’ve got a young squad and it was never going to be about game one for us it’s about game 21 and beyond that. The only way these players are going to get experience and improve is by playing, making mistakes and having the opportunity to learn from it.

“Oxford is an opportunity for us to take a step forward. I imagine there will be quite a lot of passion in the game. We’ll be working on one or two things that didn’t help us too much against Keighley and I’ll be hoping the players take another step forward.”

Loose forward Colton Roche and wing Jamel Chisholm are likely to miss the game through injury but Harry Carter and Ryan Mallinder should both be available for selection.

South Wales Scorpions v London Skolars (3.00)

Mike Grady, the South Wales Scorpions coach, is hoping his side can bounce back from the loss to the University of Gloucestershire All Golds: “It was disappointing last week, we didn’t compete really so I’m looking for some kind of reaction this week,” he said. “I think the game against Skolars will be tough.

“Jermaine’s come in and obviously shaken them up a bit because the result they had was a massive improvement. He’s obviously done something and the boys are obviously playing for their shirts. I expect it to be a tough one. Jermaine’s a good bloke and a good coach and he’ll have them fired up I’m sure.”

Jermaine Coleman, the new London Skolars coach, said of his side’s defeat at the hands of Hemel Stags: “It was an interesting game. I thought the boys showed a lot of commitment and heart and considering they’d only had six training sessions under me they attempted to do what I asked them to do. I think ultimately we are lacking in a few areas and were more conscious about making errors, which is understandable under a new coach, but there were plenty of positives.

“I suppose South Wales are going through a bit of a transition like Skolars. Mike is doing a pretty good job down there in bringing a lot of young kids through. I think he’s doing it right; the way forward is to develop your own and they have a clear understanding of what direction they’re going in. Youth and enthusiasm brings its own challenges. It will be an interesting contest.”

Full reports from all the Kingstone Press League 1 fixtures this weekend will feature in Monday’s edition of Rugby League Express, available in the shops on Monday or from 10.00pm on Sunday night digitally.