Kingstone Press Championship One previews
Sunday 9 March
Kingstone Press Championship One
Gateshead Thunder v Oxford (3.00pm)
Nathan Powley could make his Gateshead Thunder debut in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship One fixture with Oxford.
The former Doncaster player is likely to provide cover for Ricky Hough as Stanley Gene takes charge of his first competitive fixture as Thunder coach.
Oxford coach Tony Benson is aiming to build on last week’s 19-12 victory over London Skolars.
Benson said: “It was a fantastic first game, but there are plenty of areas to improve. I was particularly pleased with our defence; we held out six sets on our line at one stage and that’s pretty phenomenal against London.
“But we had London on the ropes at one stage and let them off by giving the ball up.
“There are certain structures we managed to maintain, and we some we didn’t. They’re only small things, but they’ll make massive improvements.”
He added: “Going to Gateshead is a geographic challenge for us straight away. It’s a very early start and a very long day and we’ve got to get used to that.
“It’s just a case of facing the added challenges as a group. Although we had a good win last week, there’s lots of improvement still in us.”
Gloucestershire All Golds v South Wales Scorpions (3.00pm)
Gloucestershire All Golds coach Brad Hepi could name an unchanged side for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship One fixture with South Wales Scorpions.
The All Golds earned a bonus point in their defeat against York City Knights last week.
Hepi said: “For a new team with 10 debutants it was very pleasing. It augurs well for the rest of the season.”
Shaun Owens and Alan Pope could both return to the Scorpions’ squad, with coach Mike Grady looking to build on last week’s 18-4 defeat against Oldham.
Grady said: “I was gutted to miss out on a bonus point, but we produced a good display and certainly put in the effort and enthusiasm.
“This game is probably looked at as a must-win for both sides; we both had decent results against top sides last week, and we’ll be looking to kick-start our season on Sunday.”
Hunslet Hawks v York City Knights (3.00pm)
Hunslet Hawks are without James Coyle (foot) and Lee Brickwood (knee), but are in confident mood after last week’s 28-0 victory against Hemel Stags.
Coach Barry Eaton said: “We’re the two teams that came down from the Championship last year, so it’s to be expected that people are talking this game up. It’s an important, big game – but it’s only round two.
“We were solid and tough last week. There were lots of challenging things that tested us, but we dealt with them really well.”
Jack Aldous returns for York City Knights, who could also be boosted by the availability of Jonny Presley.
However, James Ford (hamstring) and James Haynes (neck) are ruled out of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship One clash.
York coach Gary Thornton said: “We were pleased to get our win last week, but I’m not putting any pressure on my players this week. Hunslet have been made clear favourites by everybody, so as far as I’m concerned we go there as underdogs with no pressure on us at all.”
Oldham v Hemel Stags (3.00pm)
Oldham coach Scott Naylor will check on David Cookson and Mo Agoro as they battle to overcome groin injuries ahead of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship One clash with Hemel Stags.
The visitors travel without James Howitt, while Jy-Mel Coleman faces a late fitness test to determine his availability.
Hemel coach Troy Perkins said: “Last week I was disappointed with our lack of ball control. We completed 40 per cent of our sets, which makes life tough against anyone.
“We’ve got to hold the ball a bit more and put the opposition defence under pressure.”
He added: “Oldham are one of the favourites to win the league so we know this is going to be a tough fixture, but if we can improve on a few areas from last week then we can have a good shot at them. We went up there last year and only got beat late on, so we’ll travel with a bit of belief in us.”