1. Halifax RLFC
March 25th: OLDHAM (A)
March 28th: BRADFORD BULLS (H)
April 3rd: FEATHERSTONE ROVERS (A)
It’s fair to say that 2016 has been a year to forget for Halifax so far. Four defeats in their opening six league games has seen them drop to eighth in the Championship, which by Halifax’s very high standards is unacceptable.
In fairness to Fax, they have played the league’s three top teams in the table, and lost to all of them by margins of eight or lower, so it’s not all doom and gloom.
They will have a chance to avenge those defeats when they take on fierce rivals Bradford on Monday, hoping to extend their unbeaten run against their neighbours to three games.
Before that, they must take on Oldham, who have shown plenty of promise on their return to the division.
Following the game with the Bulls, Richard Marshall’s side travel to the Big Fellas Stadium to take on Featherstone in a huge match between two teams that will be in the mix for the top four at the end of the year. Halifax instigated their incredible nine-game unbeaten run that pushed them into the top four at the same ground last year and they will be hoping to replicate that this year.
2. Sheffield Eagles
March 25th: FEATHERSTONE ROVERS (A)
March 28th: DEWSBURY RAMS (H)
April 3rd: BRADFORD BULLS (A)
Another member of last year’s Qualifiers, life as a full-time team hasn’t been all too kind to Sheffield.
Things started well enough, but back-to-back defeats, including a shock reverse at the hands of Whitehaven, has punctured their early momentum.
The problem for the Eagles is that they now face an incredibly tough set of fixtures over Easter, with Featherstone, Dewsbury and Bradford all coming up. Mark Aston’s men are more than capable of winning those games, but a string of defeats could really see them drop down the table and have to play catch-up for the rest of the season.
Featherstone away is a difficult challenge while the Rams proved in the Challenge Cup how good they can be by defeating Bradford, with the Eagles having to travel to face the Bulls in another difficult match.
3. Swinton Lions
March 24th: LEIGH CENTURIONS (A)
March 28th: OLDHAM (H)
April 3rd: WORKINGTON (H)
Swinton have gained plenty of admirers in the Championship so far, but as of yet they have failed to get a point on the league ladder.
It’s a fact that is somewhat harsh on the Lions, but a reality they have to face at this stage of the season.
But Easter presents them with the opportunity to not only register their first win, but a couple in quick succession.
Their trip to Leigh is daunting, but home ties against Oldham and Workington are two matches that John Duffy will have his eye on.
They are big games too, as defeats in both of those matches would leave the Lions at least four points behind the rest of the pack.