Kingstone Press Championships play-offs previews
Sunday September 15
Kingstone Press Championship
Sheffield Eagles v Dewsbury Rams (6.30pm)
Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston has warned his players not to underestimate Dewsbury Rams ahead of Sunday’s final match at the Don Valley Stadium.
The Eagles have won all four clashes between the sides this year, but Aston is far from complacent.
He said: “This is a one-off, winner take all. Dewsbury have had a good end to the season, winning their last three, and they’ll be confident.”
Rams pair Makali Aizue and Karl Pryce both face late fitness tests, but Tom Lillycrop and James Craven return from suspension.
Dewsbury coach Glenn Morrison said: “We’ve been playing finals footy for the last four or five weeks now, and we’ve shown a lot of character all year.
“We’ve had people busted and playing out of position, but the spirit at the club is fantastic.”
He added: “Sheffield have been in finals and won big matches for years. We’re expecting a very tough battle, but we’ve played them a number of times this year and been in front at various stages.
“If we play the full 80 minutes to our best ability, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
Leigh Centurions v Batley Bulldogs (3.00pm, Premier Sports)
Leigh Centurions are set to be boosted by the return of Adam Higson from suspension, while Simon Finnigan is also pushing for a place in Paul Rowley’s squad.
Both players missed last week’s 40-26 defeat at Featherstone, but Higson is now definitely available while Finnigan is keen to come back after a medial ligament problem.
Rowley said: “The play-offs aren’t over for him, that’s for sure.”
Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear will check on Danny Maun (hamstring) before finalising his team to face the Centurions.
Ayden Faal (dead leg) and Miles Greenwood (foot) are both expected to play, despite being taken off during last week’s 68-28 win over Workington.
Kear said: “With ball in hand we were very good, but the downside was conceding five tries – and some of them were soft.
“We’ve got plenty to take from it, but defensively we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve have identified areas we can improve upon.”
Kingstone Press Championship One
Play-off final qualifier
Oldham v Rochdale Hornets (3.00pm)
Oldham coach Scott Naylor is hopeful Jon Ford could feature in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship One play-off final qualifier.
Naylor said: “The fact he’s well enough now to join in training again has given us a lot more hope.”
Rochdale Hornets captain Wayne English is rated as ‘less than 50/50’ by coach Ian Talbot ahead of Sunday’s showdown.
Talbot said: “Wayne’s been key for us this season, but he missed training on Tuesday and we’ll assess him again on Thursday.”
Talbot added: “Last week we didn’t produce the best performance, but we got the result. I’d settle for another bad performance on Sunday if we get the result we want.
“There’s lots of local rivalry and tradition involved between Rochdale and Oldham.
“This is the fifth meeting of the season and they’re ahead so far, so we’re gunning for it. We’ve already been to Whitebank and got a win this season, so that gives us some confidence.”
London Skolars v Hemel Stags (3.00pm)
London Skolars coach Joe Mbu believes his side have found a new lease of life as they approach Sunday’s crucial Kingstone Press Championship One Elimination Play-Off.
Mbu said: “We trained on Tuesday and the boys were bubbly, lively and bouncing around like it was pre-season, which I hope is a good indication of what’s to come this weekend.”
Skolars lost to a last-minute try at Rochdale last week, but Mbu insists it is a lesson that will stand his side in good stead.
He said: “If we get to that stage again, up by two with two minutes to go, I’m hoping they’ll have learned enough about what needs to be done and how they need to approach those last few minutes. It’s invaluable.”
Michael Worrincy is a major doubt for London, while Hemel Stags trio Eddie Mbaraga, Chad Sharp and Christian Champion are all set to miss out.
Stags coach Troy Perkins said: “Our injury list is getting longer and longer, and we’re pretty much down to the bare bones now.
“They’ve come at the wrong end of the season for us, but we’ve got lots of character and we always work hard.”