Kingstone Press Championships previews
Sunday June 29
Kingstone Press Championship
Batley Bulldogs v Barrow Raiders (3.00pm)
Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear has no new injury concerns ahead of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship fixture against Barrow Raiders.
New signing Wayne Reittie battling to be included in Kear’s squad to face the Raiders, but faces strong competition from Vinny Finigan and Alex Brown, who both performed well in Batley’s 55-12 win over North Wales Crusaders.
Kear said: “I was very pleased with how we played, but we still haven’t played for 80 minutes and we can improve in certain areas.”
On Barrow, Kear added: “They’re better than their last game against Swinton, and we’re aware of that.
“They’ve beaten us up at their place and we know full well the threat they pose. They’ll be desperate, and it’s up to us to counter that.”
Raiders coach Bobbie Goulding insists Barrow can still avoid relegation, despite being at the bottom of the table and 12 points off safety.
Goulding said: “I’ve never given up in my life and I don’t intend to now.
“If we keep losing then we go down, but there are still 10 games to go – that’s 30 points, so who knows?”
Sheffield Eagles v Halifax (2.00pm)
Frustrated Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston is without Scott Turner (groin) and prop Ben Jones (broken thumb) ahead of a crucial Kingstone Press Championship clash with Halifax.
Eagles’ home record has been poor in 2014, with last week’s 29-16 defeat against Keighley Cougars the latest in a string of home losses.
Further defeat this week could see Sheffield slip down to eighth place, leaving them fighting to qualify for the play-offs.
In contrast Halifax are aiming to keep the pressure on the top two after last week’s 42-24 victory over Rochdale Hornets.
Halifax coach Karl Harrison said: “Overall it was a great result for us, especially with the way the other results went.
“We’ve got some smiling faces in the changing room. We need to worry about ourselves and nobody else.
“We’ll do our best to get in the top two and give ourselves the best chance of reaching the Grand Final, but there’ll be lots more twists and turns yet this season.
“Points are tough to come by and you’ve got to earn every point this season.”
Adam Robinson is in contention for Halifax, but Dane Manning (suspended) is unavailable.
Doncaster v Whitehaven (3.00pm)
Doncaster coach Paul Cooke is promising to drop any under-performing players for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Whitehaven.
Cooke was left disappointed by his side’s 24-8 defeat against Dewsbury Rams, insisting: “There’ll be some changes to the team. We can’t gloss over the performance from last week.
“We can’t have a performance like that and have it be deemed acceptable.”
Cooke has no new injury concerns for Sunday’s game, with the focus purely on improving his side’s performance.
Cooke said: “We sat down and had a long chat about it, and with 10 games to go we’ve got to improve as the play-offs come into focus.
“Whitehaven played well against Leigh and well against North Wales too. I’ve seen both of those games and they’re certainly playing a lot better than at the start of the season. We’re going to have it all on come Sunday afternoon.
“We’ve just got to improve, and if we do that then we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
Former Super League prop Paul Jackson could return for Whitehaven following an elbow injury.
Featherstone Rovers v North Wales Crusaders (3.00pm)
Jarrod Sammut is set for his Featherstone Rovers debut in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship fixture against North Wales Crusaders.
The former Bradford Bulls star has joined Rovers on a dual-registration deal from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
Rovers coach Andy Hay said: “Jarrod will go straight into the 17 on Sunday. He’ll add significant quality and experience to our side.”
Crusaders will travel without Dan Birkett (hip), but coach Anthony Murray hopes to have Jono Smith available after a recent hamstring problem.
Murray said: “Featherstone are a quality side with massive aspirations that everyone knows about.
“They’re trying to reach Super League and we know the type of players they have at their disposal.
“It’s going to be another massive ask for our players, but you’ve got to meet these challenges head on and see what happens.”
Keighley Cougars v Rochdale Hornets (3.00pm)
Keighley Cougars coach Paul March is preparing for the penultimate game of his two-month stadium ban on Sunday.
Cougars host struggling Rochdale Hornets, who have lost their last seven games, just seven days after an impressive victory against Sheffield Eagles.
But Rochdale coach Ian Talbot insists his side can halt their recent run of form, having been encouraged by last week’s 42-24 defeat against Halifax.
Talbot said: “There were big signs of improvement in that game, and at 55 minutes the game was there for the taking.”
Hornets expect to have Ryan Millard available after a recent knee injury, with Talbot reporting no new concerns in his squad.
He added: “Keighley are hitting a bit of form and it’s never easy to go to Cougar Park.
“They’ve got experience across the park, with Danny Jones and Paul Handforth steering them well and Richie Barnett is always a threat out wide.
“We’ve just go to take each game as it comes and just worry about ourselves and the challenges in front of us.”
Leigh Centurions v Dewsbury Rams (3.00pm)
Leigh Centurions coach Paul Rowley believes his side is in good shape to extend their record-breaking run of 16 consecutive league wins this season.
The Centurions host Dewsbury Rams in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship fixtures, having maintained a 100 per cent record in the league season so far.
Rowley said: “We’ve been looking forward to having a full week’s preparation, and while we’ve still got the same injuries it means we can get stuck into training. It should freshen us up for Sunday.”
He added: “Our defence was outstanding last week, but we want to be tougher in terms of how we execute our plays.
“Dewsbury had a great win last week and they’re a good side. They’ve a lot of confidence and getting results like last week, when they beat Doncaster, is a good effort. Defensively they’re obviously very hard to break down and that all feeds into our focus on better execution in attack.”
Dewsbury could still claim a top four finish after last week’s win over Doncaster.
Coach Glenn Morrison said: “We’ll go to Leigh confident, and after that we’ve got a good run.
“We’ve got to stay on track, keep the confidence and keep the momentum for the back end of the year, because that’s where things are won.”
Swinton Lions v Workington Town (3.00pm)
In-form Swinton Lions are aiming for a fourth consecutive win – and a first under new coach John Duffy.
Former coach Ian Watson this week resigned to joined Salford Red Devils, with Duffy quickly being appointed as his successor.
Duffy said: “I was really impressed with the team’s performance and work rate against Barrow.
“I look forward to getting stuck in straight away, and we’ll be giving 100 per cent for all our remaining games this season.”
Loan winger Steve Maden could be included in Duffy’s first squad, while Keiron McAvoy could come into contention for Workington Town coach Phil Veivers.
Town are now only three points behind ninth-placed Whitehaven as the battle for survival intensifies at the bottom of the Kingstone Press Championship table.
Victory for Workington this week could see them climb out of the drop zone and Veivers’ men will not be short of confidence following last week’s shock win against Featherstone Rovers.
Veivers said: “We need to go on now, and build on that in the next few weeks.”
Kingstone Press Championship One
London Skolars v Gateshead Thunder (2.00pm)
James Kelly returns for London Skolars as the pressure mounts on their bid to make the Kingstone Press Championship One play-offs.
Coach Joe Mbu insists Sunday’s fixture is not “must win”, but Skolars are seven points behind fifth-placed Hemel Stags.
Mbu said: “Every game is important for us, but once you get into must win scenarios you put yourself under unnecessary pressure. We’re just happy to pick up some momentum and make sure we’re at our best.
“We didn’t have a game last week and I’d have rather we played, but the boys seem upbeat and fresh in training and that’s the positive thing for us.”
On Gateshead, Mbu added: “They’re definitely a much-improved team. They’re a good team with a good coach, but all we’ve got to do is make sure we deliver what we need to in terms of our skill and game-plan.”
Thunder coach Stanley Gene has challenged his troops to show some consistency after a 32-14 defeat against Oldham.
Gene said: “We need to start winning two or three games in a row. It’s so frustrating winning one and losing one. London is a must-win game for us.”
Hemel Stags v York City Knights (2.30pm)
Hemel Stags coach Troy Perkins is without suspended duo Aaron Small and Romaine Navarette for Sunday’s showdown with Kingstone Press Championship One leaders York City Knights.
Ben Young is also missing with a fractured wrist, but Perkins remains confident.
He said: “We’re down on troops, but we’re playing at home and I was encouraged by how we went against Hunslet. We’ve just got to stay in the battle this week.”
On York, Perkins added: “They’re a good team and where they’re sitting on the table proves that.
“Their outside backs are important to them; they get in and take some early carries, so we’ve got to combat that and slow down those first few plays.”
Knights coach Gary Thornton could be boosted by the returns of Jack Aldous, Lee Paterson, Benn Hardcastle and Ryan Mallinder. Iain Morrison (arm) is a slight doubt.
Thornton said: “We were poor the last time we played Hemel, but we’ve improved since then.
“However, they will have also improved. They’ve had more time together and played together more often. We know this will be a difficult test.”
Hunslet Hawks v Gloucestershire All Golds (3.00pm)
Suspended pair Jamaine Akaidere and Jimmy Watson are both ruled out for Hunslet Hawks.
Their absences are a major blow for Hunslet coach Barry Eaton, who has acknowledged Gloucestershire All Golds’ improving form.
Eaton said: “Every team we play seems to be on a bit of a run. We’ve just played Hemel, who beat Oldham the week before we met them.
“Now Gloucestershire have won four out of five, including beating York and Oxford in their last two games.
“We know a fair bit about the All Golds over the last month or so, and they’re going very well.”
All Golds coach Steve McCormack is without on-loan hooker Casey Canterbury, who cannot play against his parent club.
McCormack said: “Hunslet are a very good side that expect to go straight back up to the Championship this year, but our current form has been excellent and we’re looking to be consistent whoever we play.”
Oxford v Oldham (3.00pm)
Oxford coach Tony Benson is looking to halt a run of five consecutive defeats when his side host Oldham on Sunday.
Benson’s men have not won since a 40-24 home victory over South Wales Scorpions in mid-May.
The hosts’ chances are boosted by the return of Dave Ellison, who missed last week’s defeat against Gloucestershire All Golds.
Liam Thompson, Brett Robinson, Mark Hobson and Paddy Mooney all come into contention for Oldham coach Scott Naylor, while Michael Ward is expected to overcome a dead leg and be fit to travel south.
Naylor said: “You’ve got to be on your game every time you go out to play.
“There are no easy games (in Kingstone Press Championship One). Every team in the division poses a threat.”
Oldham winger Mo Agoro has scored tries in each of his side’s last eight fixtures and is aiming to continue his run on Sunday.