Kingstone Press Championship previews
Sunday March 17
Kingstone Press Championship
Barrow Raiders v Whitehaven (3.00pm)
Barrow Raiders coach Darren Holt is aiming to maintain the momentum from last week’s 36-22 win over Dewsbury Rams – but he must do so without injured hooker James Dandy.
Liam Finch looks set to replace Dandy, who suffered an ankle injury that could see him sidelined for the next couple of weeks.
Whitehaven coach Dave Woods has challenged his squad to prove their worth after last week’s 30-0 defeat at Hunslet Hawks.
Woods said: “The way we’ve been playing is disappointing. We’ve got a better squad than that, and we need all 17 to stand up and be counted.
“A few players got impatient last week, and that’s when you get unstuck. We need a better effort all round.”
Jamie Rooney and Scott McAvoy both face fitness tests later this week before Woods finalises his team to face the Raiders.
Woods added: “Barrow will be flying after their win against Dewsbury. They’ll be full of confidence, and they’ve plenty of good strike players like Liam Harrison that we really need to look after.”
Dewsbury Rams v Leigh Centurions (3.00pm)
Ryan Wright is a major doubt for Dewsbury Rams after suffering an ankle injury against Barrow Raiders.
Rams coach Glenn Morrison said: “Ryan’s had x-rays on his ankle. It’s a real shame because he’s been of our stand-outs this year.”
Dewsbury threw away a 22-6 lead at Barrow to eventually lose 36-22, but Morrison is keen to move on.
He said: “It was disappointing, but we knew we were going to have ups and downs this season.
“We’ve got a few things to work on. Leigh are one of the top sides so it doesn’t get any easier, but after a game like that you want to play a top side because you know the mentality will have to be switched on.”
Martin Aspinwall (broken toe) and Craig Briscoe (broken hand) are both missing for Leigh Centurions, who are also aiming to bounce back from a 40-18 defeat against Sheffield Eagles.
Coach Paul Rowley said: “We had quite a lot of individual errors and there were some cringe-worthy moments in review for most of the lads, and Sheffield were also very, very good.
“Dewsbury have always been tough, especially at their place, but they’ve now got a new coach and fresh ideas and that poses even more challenges for us.”
Halifax v Hunslet Hawks (3.00pm)
Halifax coach Karl Harrison will be without Ross Divorty and Andy Bracek for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship visit of Hunslet Hawks.
Unbeaten Halifax are searching for a sixth win in seven games following their 34-22 triumph over Swinton Lions.
Meanwhile, upbeat Hawks coach Barry Eaton insists his squad will not get carried away after last week’s 30-0 win over Whitehaven.
Hunslet won only two league games in 2012, but have already notched up three victories this term and are currently seventh in the Kingstone Press Championship.
Eaton said: “We’re going in the right direction, but we’ve got our feet rooted to the ground. We’ve got a tough run of games coming up.
“We had a thoroughly professional performance last week, and the players are starting to feel a little bit better about themselves.
“It’s certainly better going to places like Halifax on the back of some OK form. We know they’re a good side, but we’ll go there with a bit of confidence.”
David March looks set to return to action for Hunslet, but Liam Welham is doubtful with a head wound and Stuart Kain faces three weeks out with a knee ligament problem.
Keighley Cougars v York City Knights (3.00pm)
Keighley Cougars coach Paul March insists his side should be “excited” by the next two months, despite starting the Kingstone Press Championship season with six straight defeats.
March said: “We’ve played four of the top six in our first six games and confidence is low, but we’re now coming into a period that we should get excited about.
“Our finishing has been the big issue, and top sides punish you when you don’t take those opportunities.
“It’s now up to us to show teams that we are one of top sides, and we’ve got to go into these games with plenty of confidence and plenty of enthusiasm.”
Keighley could be unchanged after March reported a clean bill of health from last week’s defeat at Featherstone Rovers, while York City Knights could welcome back James Ford and Luke Stenchion.
However, Simon Brown and Sam Scott are doubtful while Ed Smith is only 50/50, according to Knights coach Gary Thornton.
Thornton said: “We’ve got to try to emulate our home form away from home. I’d imagine Paul March has targeted this game as their first win of the season and we need to make sure we match their enthusiasm.”
Swinton Lions v Doncaster (3.00pm)
Injury-hit Swinton Lions have been dealt another blow with the news that Neil Holland is only 50/50 for Sunday’s match against Doncaster after suffering a foot problem last week.
Chris Clarke, Jordan Burke, Brad Dwyer, Gavin Bennion and Glenn Riley are all currently unavailable for the Lions, but Liam Hulme is expected to shake off a hand injury.
Caretaker coach Ian Watson said: “All teams have injuries and we’re no different, but we only have a small squad.”
Sunday’s match is expected to present a first opportunity for Swinton’s new coach to assess his troops, with the club expected to make an announcement by the end of the week.
Doncaster coach Tony Miller must prepare without Bobbie Goulding and Danny Cowling, who have both been recalled by Wakefield.
Matt Carbutt and Carl Hughes, who both missed last week’s 24-18 defeat by Batley, will be checked before Miller finalises his squad.
Workington Town v Batley Bulldogs (3.00pm)
Workington Town coach Gary Charlton has doubts over Mark Calderwood, Jarrad Stack and Andy Morris ahead of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Batley Bulldogs.
Charlton, who is desperate to bounce back from last week’s 48-6 defeat at York City Knights, said: “We need a response.
“York played very well, but we were very poor and we’ve got to learn that we need to slow these teams down when they get a roll on.
“Batley are a good team and they’ve taken a lot of top scalps. They’re well drilled, well coached and defensively they’re very good.
“We’ve got to come up with something that will break them down.”
Liam Walmsley could return for Batley, but Danny Maun (dislocated finger) faces a late fitness test.
Bulldogs coach John Kear is hoping his side can make it easier for themselves on Sunday.
He said: “Winning at Doncaster was a pleasing result, if not a pleasing performance. We made the job difficult for ourselves.
“I was happy with our defensive effort, but we just had too much to do. They had towards 60 per cent possession, so we’d a fair bit of work to do. The pleasing thing is we hung in there, but there are ways to make things easier.”