Saturday September 5
Barrow Raiders v Rochdale Hornets (6.30)
Paul Crarey, the Barrow Raiders coach, said: “I’m looking forward to the game to see how far we have come against a team that hammered us at the start of the year. Our form has been good but we have just been edged out in terms of results. We need to concentrate and perform for 80 minutes to stand a chance of winning. We want to put on a show for our loyal fans.”
Rochdale Hornets go into the game just outside the top five. Coach Ian Talbot said: “It’s a massive one for us. We need to go and get a win if we are to have any intention of getting into that top five. Unfortunately it’s out of our hands. We hope that York do us a favour at Crusaders but we’ll keep fighting until the end.
“It’s never easy going up to Barrow. We beat them at our ground but it’s a totally different prospect going up to their place. I’ve never found it easy with any team I’ve taken up there, so it’s going to be tough.”
Sunday September 6
South Wales Scorpions v Newcastle Thunder (1.00)
Looking ahead to the visit of Newcastle Thunder, South Wales Scorpions assistant coach Paul Emanuelli said: “They’ve spent big this year and perhaps they’ve slightly underachieved. Seeing where we are in the league, I’m sure they’re going to come down and fancy their chances. We’re pretty much down to the bare bones, so it’s going to be another tough ask but it’s nothing different to the rest of the year really.”
Newcastle Thunder coach Stanley Gene said: “It’s a very long trip down to South Wales but that’s part and parcel of the game. It’s going to be tough but we’re looking forward to it.”
Newcastle will be without wing Macauley Hallett who is suspended.
Hemel Stags v Oxford (2.30)
Hemel Stags coach Troy Perkins won’t be taking too much notice of Oxford’s defeat by Swinton Lions: “I don’t think you can read too much into it when southern teams get hammered by some of the northern clubs. We’ve experienced it a few times and bounced back the week after. They’re a decent team with some experienced players.
“We’re focusing on getting a result. We’ve put together a couple decent performances recently so hopefully we can get a win in our last home game of the season.”
Oxford were beaten 84-16 at Swinton on Monday and coach Tim Rumford admitted: “We’re up against it and we’re running out of players but it presents opportunities for some who haven’t played a lot. I suppose in one way it gives us a heads-up for our plans for next year, which we’re working on now. We get to look at a few people maybe a little bit earlier that we wanted to and a few people we were planning on blooding next year will get a bit of a go this year.
“We’ve played a couple of times at Hemel this year because they very kindly allowed us to use their ground while our own ground was under maintenance. We’ve got a good relationship with them but obviously that will be on the back burner this week.
“We’ve beaten them twice this year already, so they’ll be firing. They’ll look at our last result and be sensing an opportunity. We need to have a bit of resolve about us but first we have to turn up and defend.”
North Wales Crusaders v York City Knights (2.30)
North Wales Crusaders had a tough trip to London Skolars last Friday night. Coach Anthony Murray said: “It took us six and a half hours to get there. The kick-off was at eight and we only got to the ground at half past seven. The preparations weren’t the best so it was even more pleasing to get a result.
“It will be really tough this week. I’m sure they’ll be wanting to put a few things right after us going down to their end a few weeks ago and beating them.
“Obviously there’s still lots to play for, especially depending on the Barrow v Rochdale result. If that result goes our way and we beat York then we make the play-offs with a game remaining. York will want to finish as high up the table as they can to get the advantage of home draws in the play-offs.
“We’re firmly set on trying to make those play-offs as well with two games remaining. I’m anticipating a real tough game and hopefully an exciting one as well.”
James Ford, the York City Knights coach, said: “We’re looking forward to getting back out on the field after a weekend off. We’re also eagerly anticipating a tough contest against a very good North Wales team. I’m sure it will be an outstanding spectacle.”
Colton Roche, Tyler Craig and James Haynes are all missing through injury.
Coventry Bears v London Skolars (3.00)
Tom Tsang, the Coventry Bears coach, expects a fired up London Skolars to be seeking revenge for the defeat the Bears inflicted on them earlier in the season: “They’ll also be wanting to finish the season strongly,” he said. “I think it will be a good game whichever way it goes. Looking at their results they seem to be trending in the same way as us – good close results, good performances by all accounts, but not quite getting the results in terms of the two points.
“Jermaine’s starting to get a bit of traction with the team and that bodes well for next year but they’ll be wanting to finish strongly just like we will. It will be a good competitive game, even though it’s being played out at the bottom end of the table.”
Centre Jordan Harper is out with a broken hand but props James Geurtjens and Morgan Evans are likely to return
For London Skolars this will be their third game in nine days. Coach Jermaine Coleman said: “We had a busy weekend but we managed it well. I’m happy with the performances of the players over the two games. Obviously we’re disappointed with the results but it’s a progression from where we were earlier in the year. It certainly bodes well for next year when we get to have a full pre-season with everyone and we keep the same sort of squad together.
“A lot of players who played both games will be playing this weekend. It’s a tough ask and I suppose it’s a super-important game for us. We really owe Coventry one for what they did to us down here – they really taught us a lesson. I’m not particularly surprised at how they’re going, Tom Tsang is a good coach.”
Loose forward Will Fairhurst is out with a ruptured Achilles and there is a doubt over hooker Mike Bishay
Gloucestershire All Golds v Keighley Cougars (3.00)
Lee Greenwood, the coach of University of Gloucestershire All Golds, said of the challenge by Keighley Cougars: “Their goals were obviously different to ours at the start of the season. They were going for top spot and promotion, simple as that, and they are on course for promotion, so they’ll want to carry on the good work and beat us comfortably on Sunday.
“For us we’ve want to finish strongly, it’s our last game against a northern team so we want to give a good account of ourselves.”
Forward Edwin Okanga-Ajwang should be fit for selection while prop Joe McClean returns from suspension
Keighley Cougars had a tough match at London Skolars on Monday. Coach Paul March said: “It was about going down there and getting the two points. I thought we did that to a degree but I think we need to be a bit better in both defensive and attacking aspects. We’re going down to Gloucester for the weekend, so we’re leaving nothing to chance. Hopefully we’ll do a professional job and start putting things right heading into the play-off games.”
Oldham v Swinton Lions (3.00)
League leaders Oldham go into the game against Swinton Lions without influential forwards Adam Neal and Sam Gee, who are both suspended for two matches. Coach Scott Naylor said: “It feels like it’s been a long season and we’re now getting to the serious bit. Obviously we’ve got a few lads missing but we’ve just got to get on with it; we’ve got a squad and we’ll use it.
“We’ve had a week off and the lads have had a bit of a rest, which I think they needed. We’ve got a really hard game at the weekend. It couldn’t be tougher, they’ve been playing really well. They’ve beaten Rochdale and North Wales, so they’ll be confident and really up for it and be looking for a bit of revenge after we beat them at their place.”
Swinton Lions coach John Duffy said: “We didn’t come through the game too badly on Monday and rested some players as well. It was another good win and we’re looking forward to Sunday.
“It’s a massive game. They are the only team to beat us at our home ground this year. They’re the most consistent team in the league and these are the games we want to be a part of. It’s going to be a massive test for us.”
Full reports from all this weekend’s League One matches will feature in Monday’s edition of League Express