Kingstone Press Championships previews
Sunday June 23
Kingstone Press Championship
Whitehaven v Workington Town (12.00)
Whitehaven coach Dave Woods will not focus on his side’s lengthy losing run against Workington Town when the Cumbrian rivals meet on Sunday.
Town have won the last seven meetings between the clubs, including two clashes already this season.
But Woods said: “These things come in a roundabout way, and it’s only a couple of years ago that Whitehaven were winning plenty of games in a row.
“They have been playing some great footy and winning games, and have had the edge over us.
“But we’re at home and need a win to keep pushing up the table.”
Woods will check on hamstring injuries to Jamie Rooney, James Cameron and Dan Fleming late in the week, but Matty Palmer is definitely out with ankle ligament damage.
Workington are almost at full strength, with Jarrad Stack, Karl Olstrum and Jordan Walne all expected to return, leaving only long-term absentee Dan Rooney on the sidelines.
Joint coach Gary Charlton said: “Just because we’ve won the last seven against them doesn’t mean we can’t put the right effort in to get the win.
“It’s a big boost for us having those three players back, and they will stiffen us up and give us some good forward.”
Barrow Raiders v Featherstone Rovers (3.00pm)
Barrow Raiders are set to welcome back loose forward Dan Toal for the visit of Featherstone Rovers.
Toal missed the recent defeat at Dewsbury Rams after limping out of their game with Sheffield Eagles with a knee complaint.
However a blank weekend has allowed the back rower enough time to recover.
Coach Darren Holt is also hoping that is the case for ankle injury victims Liam Harrison and Sean Casey, who he will run checks on just prior to the game.
Featherstone will be boosted by the return of Jon Hepworth from a hand injury, but prop Anthony England may be out for the rest of the season.
England needs an operation on his shoulder that will require two to three months’ rehabilitation.
“It could be the season for him and that’s a big blow,” coach Ryan Sheridan said.
“It will be a tough challenge for us at Barrow – they’ve been staying in games and not losing by much.”
Second row Tim Spears is rated as “50/50” with a medial ligament problem.
Dewsbury Rams v Halifax (3.00pm)
Dewsbury Rams welcome back experienced second row Rob Spicer as they look to repeat their Northern Rail Cup win over Halifax.
Glenn Morrison’s side produced one of their best performances of the season to knock Halifax out of the NRC, and the Australian coach is looking for a repeat.
He said: “We had a good win against them in the cup, and I’m sure they will remember that and come here wanting to take the points off us.
“But it’s a big game for us and we want to get some points and kick on.
“I was really proud of the boys’ effort at Sheffield last week and I thought we deserved to get the result.
“But a few things didn’t go our way and they scored a couple of late tries from kicks to finish us off.”
Spicer has been back in training after deciding to delay an operation on his ankle.
Halifax coach Karl Harrison could have two key forwards back from lengthy injuries.
Luke Adamson and Adam Robinson are both poised for returns at the Tetley’s Stadium.
Adamson has been missing for a month with a broken hand, while Robinson has been out for twice as long after undergoing shoulder surgery.
Hunslet Hawks v Swinton Lions (3.00pm)
Hunslet Hawks coach Barry Eaton will give late fitness tests to halfback duo Luke Helliwell and Danny Grimshaw ahead of their meeting with Swinton Lions.
Grimshaw has been missing with ankle ligament damage and Helliwell a hamstring complaint.
Eaton hopes that at least one player comes through to partner recent signing James Coyle at halfback, but describes both as having an “outside chance” at present.
Eaton added: “Swinton are a team that can play some really good stuff – every time I’ve seen them and looked at their games, they’ve been a real threat with the ball in their hands.
“We have to stifle that and defend whatever they throw at us.”
David Clayton and Scott Watson are both available again after returning to full training.
Swinton have suffered a significant blow with the loss of fullback Richie Hawkyard for two weeks with a shoulder injury.
Jack Morrison is out with a broken hand, Matt Sarsfield is rated at 50/50 after rolling his ankle in training, and Jack Cooper is still “very doubtful” with a bruised hip.
On the plus side, Warrington Wolves dual registration players Tyrone McCarthy and James Laithwaite are both set to return, and James Mendeika could also be back from a loan spell at London Broncos.
“We’ve got to chop and change a bit again which isn’t ideal,” coach Gary Chambers said.
“Hunslet are a very big side, probably the biggest we’ve played, and it will be a physical, tough game for us on that field.
“They will have plenty of power down the middle and we have to defend better than we have done.”
Keighley Cougars v Doncaster (3.00pm)
Keighley Cougars player coach Paul March wants a big response from his side following their last defeat to York City Knights.
March has a near fully fit squad to choose from and wants to see a different Cougars side against in-form Doncaster.
He said: “The York defeat was our worst performance of the year – we’ve had two weeks to build up to this game and hopefully there will a positive response.
“We watched Doncaster play Swinton last Thursday after training, and they’re playing very well.
“But when we went there earlier this year we put them under pressure for 20 minutes, and we’ll be looking to do that for the whole game this week to see what their reaction is.”
March will check on fullback Craig Moss in the under-20s on Thursday night, while winger Richie Barnett will return to training from his broken leg next week.
Doncaster coach Tony Miller is expecting a Cougars backlash.
He said: “I know they had a bit of a touch up from their chairman regarding the performance at York, and Keighley are always pretty good at home.
“I’m expecting a real tough game that will go down to the wire.
“If we can get a win it will give us a bit of breathing space above Keighley, whereas if they win we’ll be right back in the mix – it’s a massive game for both clubs.”
Winger Dennis Tuffour is struggling to be fit due to a hamstring injury.
Leigh Centurions v York City Knights (3.00pm)
Leigh Centurions remain without a quartet of key players for their home game with York City Knights.
Martyn Ridyard, Ryan Brierley, Martin Aspinwall and Rob Parker are all out, but Paul Rowley’s side still managed to beat Whitehaven in the Northern Rail Cup last weekend.
Rowley said: “We found a way to win.
“We gave them far too much possession in the first half, but we toughed it out and knew that if we sorted our ball control out we’d be okay.”
Recent signing Mick Govin and centre Adam Higson could both come into contention depending on their performances in Thursday night’s under-20s game at Keighley.
York will be without the suspended Simon Brown and Hull FC dual registration duo Dean Hadley and Liam Kent, both who picked up knocks in the win over Keighley.
But experienced centre James Ford is back from his troublesome groin complaint.
Coach Gary Thornton said: “When we played Leigh at home this year I thought they were the best team we’ve played this season – I was very impressed with them.
“But we go there confident because we have turned things around since we last played them and picked up two very good wins recently.”
Kingstone Press Championship One
Gloucestershire All Golds v North Wales Crusaders (3.00pm)
North Wales Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths wants to see a response from his side’s first defeat of the season at Hemel Stags last weekend.
Griffiths saw his table-topping side slip to an 18-10 defeat and is looking for them to bounce straight back at Gloucestershire All Golds.
Griffiths said: “We’re a bit wounded from last week – I don’t think we’d have scored again if we were still playing now.
“It was a day that we didn’t want to happen, but one that had to happen at some point, and if it motivates us to better things then it will have been a worthwhile exercise.
“I’m looking for a massive reaction.
“We know Gloucestershire have recruited some good players from the Scorpions and we won’t be taking them lightly.”
Griffiths’ only absentee is winger Lewys Weaver, who is set for an extended spell on the sidelines with appendicitis.
All Gold coach Brad Hepi is looking for his side to continue their recent improvement, despite their 38-22 loss at London Skolars on Sunday.
Hepi said: “We performed for 60 minutes (against Skolars), last weekend it was 40, so it was an improvement.
“It was a real arm wrestle in the middle 60.”
London Skolars v Rochdale Hornets (3.00pm)
London Skolars are hoping it will be third time lucky when they entertain Rochdale Hornets on Sunday.
Skolars have lost their two trips to Spotland this season, but hope to cause an upset at New River Stadium.
Coach Joe Mbu said: “We’ve played them twice so far, and they had a few changes in personnel between those games.
“I’m expecting the same Rochdale that we usually see – a good, strong, powerful team.
“I’m sure they will fancy coming here and getting a win off us.”
Mbu’s only injury absentee is Jack Dillon, who could miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Rochdale moved up to second with Sunday’s 46-4 win at Gateshead Thunder and coach Ian Talbot is looking for them to continue their recent good form.
He said: “It was a great performance, especially defensively.
“When Skolars came up to our for the league game it was tit-for-tat for long periods.
“I’ve spoken about it before – the quality in London is improving year on year, and it won’t be easy on that tight pitch there.”
Talbot will check on Dayne Donoghue (knee) and Jordan Case (throat infection), while long-term absentees Alex McClurg and Alex Trumper remain sidelined.
Oldham v Hemel Stags (3.00pm)
Hemel Stags coach Troy Perkins wants his side to follow up their shock win over leaders North Wales Crusaders when they travel to Oldham.
The Stags inflicted Crusaders’ first defeat of the season last weekend, and Perkins wants more of the same.
He said: “Off the back of a really good result, we’ll go into the Oldham game full of confidence.
“But we know we need to be at our best to get a result at Oldham.
“They’ve got a big forward pack and like to play off the back of good rolls.
“We need to match them up front, because we were probably second best against them in the pack last time, and they got the result off the back of that.”
Perkins expects to field a similar side to the one that beat North Wales, with Chad Sharp still sidelined with a niggling ankle injury.
Oldham are hoping that winger Mo Agoro will be fit to return.
Agoro has missed the last two matches with an ankle injury, and will have a late fitness test.
Coach Scott Naylor will also check on fellow three-quarter Dan Brotherton, who also has an ankle injury at present.
South Wales Scorpions v Oxford (3.00pm)
South Wales Scorpions coach Dave Clark believes the home game with Oxford is a huge game for both sides.
Clark said: “It’ll be a bit like a Grand Final atmosphere on Sunday.
“We both will want to win this to advance up the table and we need to starting taking points off the team above us.
“Our loss last week to Oldham and North Wales Crusaders’ defeat at Hemel just shows that anyone can be beaten on the day.
“I felt we were the better side last week as we let the game slip away, and we want to bounce back.”
Scorpions have Courtney Davies back in contention after recovering from injury but Gerwyn Price is unavailable, as are Wales Student international trio Osian Phillips, Mike Connor and Harrison Elliot, who go into training for the forthcoming Student World Cup.
Clark is also hoping to complete a new signing of a forward by the weekend.
Oxford coach Tony Benson will check on a host of injuries sustained in the defeat to Rochdale two weeks ago, including winger Lucas Onyango.
Oxford had been in control of that match before conceding 30 unanswered points in the final 24 minutes, and Benson is looking for more consistency from his side.