Kingstone Press Championships previews
Friday July 4
Kingstone Press Championship
Dewsbury Rams v Swinton Lions (8.00pm)
Loan signing Ben Hellewell could make his Dewsbury Rams debut just three days after joining the club on an initial one-month deal.
Rams coach Glenn Morrison is considering giving Hellewell an immediate chance to make an impression following last week’s 30-22 defeat against Leigh Centurions.
Morrison said: “We’ve a couple of busted bodies and people carrying knocks, so we’ll have a look at Ben in training and see how he goes.”
On Swinton, Morrison added: “Even in the game they’ve been losing, they’ve only just been losing. They’re fighters, they play for 80 minutes and they don’t go away.
“They knocked us off earlier in the year, and we want to get something back. That was probably our worst performance of the year.
“If we’d got that result then we’d be sitting differently in the league table, and we want to put that right. We don’t want to double up with two bad performances against the same side.”
New Swinton coach John Duffy is searching for his first win after last week’s 32-24 loss against Workington Town.
But Duffy was encouraged by his side’s determination. He said: “It looked like there was nothing there for us, but I’m very proud about how they fought back to get the bonus point.”
Kingstone Press Championship One
Gateshead Thunder v Hunslet Hawks (8.00pm)
Gateshead Thunder coach Stanley Gene is challenging his team to prove they can play for 80 minutes against the top teams in Kingstone Press Championship One.
Thunder won 66-6 against London Skolars last week, with stand-off Jordan Meads claiming the competition’s Player of the Week title with a dominant performance.
But Gene is expecting a much sterner test against third-placed Hunslet Hawks. He said: “If you look at our three games against Hunslet, York and Oldham we competed in first half, but lost the plot in the second half.
“The biggest thing for me is to get out there and produce an 80-minute performance, just like we did last week against London. It’s a great chance for us to see where we are.”
Hawks coach Barry Eaton has doubts over Danny Ansell and Stuart Kain, but Danny Grimshaw, Luke Stenchion and Jimmy Watson are all available.
Eaton said: “Last week we had lapses in concentration or communication, which led to missed tackles or penalties, and that’s what hurt us against Gloucestershire. We’re going to have to be better on Sunday.
“Gateshead have had a good win that has got to be deemed a high-calibre performance, and we know we’re in for a tough challenge. They’ve got decent players in important positions and they pose big threats.”
Saturday July 5
Kingstone Press Championship One
South Wales Scorpions v Oxford (3.00pm)
Neil Dallimore and Phil Carleton look set to return to action as South Wales Scorpions hunt a second win of the Kingstone Press Championship One season.
But Scorpions coach Mike Grady is without Chris Vitalini, who is away on international duty with Italy.
Grady said: “I’m looking forward to this week. The lads have trained hard and we’ve all got smiles on our faces.
“We’ve just got to give it a go. We’re at home, we’re looking for a performance and if we get that then you never know.
“If we perform, I don’t think we’ll be too far off. Our team spirit is great. Sometimes in adversity you stick together, and that’s been the case this year. I’m genuinely excited about this match.”
Ashley Bateman will make his 100th career appearance if selected for the Scorpions, while Karl Temata is back in contention for Oxford.
However, Oxford coach Tony Benson must cope without JJ Baird (personal commitments) while Alex Thompson (hamstring), Valu Bentley (knee) and Sean Morris (leg) are all doubtful.
Benson said: “We’re sitting just above them in the table and we’ve got a tough game on here. South Wales are obviously a team that can jump up and get anyone on their day.”
Sunday July 6
Kingstone Press Championship
North Wales Crusaders v Doncaster (2.30)
Loan signing Mick Govin could be given a starting berth when North Wales Crusaders host Doncaster in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash.
Govin impressed off the bench during last week’s 56-18 defeat against Featherstone Rovers, and acting head coach Anthony Murray could be tempted to use him from the start against an in-form Doncaster team.
Murray said: “I thought he was quality. He did really well for us in that second-half and showed his experience.”
Doncaster player-coach Paul Cooke (knee) is a doubt for Sunday’s match, while Liam Cunningham is also suffering with a knee problem.
However, Lee Waterman is contention for his first appearance in seven weeks as he closes in on a return to action following a dislocated shoulder.
Doncaster are now five points clear of fifth-placed Batley Bulldogs, and coach Cooke is hopeful of another similarly determined effort this week following a 22-16 victory over Whitehaven.
Cooke said: “We needed to get back on the horse and right some wrongs. The character and desire of the group was first class (against Whitehaven) and in the end it shone through.”
Barrow Raiders v Whitehaven (3.00pm)
Injury-hit Barrow Raiders are boosted by the return of Liam Campbell for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship derby with Whitehaven.
Campbell missed last week’s defeat against Batley Bulldogs, while Dan Toal and Ben Musolino face fitness tests this week after failing to finish the same match.
Raiders coach Bobbie Goulding is running out of options, but insists he remains confident.
Goulding said: “We were down to 14 players at one point (against Batley), but I will make sure we have 17 bodies who are ready to give it a go. If they play like they did (last week), we will be in with a right shout.”
Whitehaven coach Dave Woods has no new worries as he prepares his side to face a committed Raiders team.
Woods said: “They’ll come at us at 1,000 miles an hour. Bobbie’s very, very good at getting players up for games, and with this being a local derby he’ll have them really fired up for this one.”
Whitehaven remain only one point off a play-off place and Woods insists his focus is upwards, rather than on avoiding relegation.
He said: “We’re only a few points off that drop zone, but we’re also only a few points off sitting in fifth. We’re just concentrating on the play-offs.”
Leigh Centurions v Sheffield Eagles (3.00pm)
Leigh Centurions coach Paul Rowley insists his side will not underestimate current Kingstone Press Championship premiers Sheffield Eagles despite their mid-table position.
The Eagles are currently eighth in the table having won just eight of their 16 league fixtures this year.
But Rowley said: “Sheffield have won the competition for the last two years so we won’t be underestimating them.
“Their key personnel are still there, and if we were in the situation Sheffiled are in we’d be targeting this game as a chance to let everyone know we’re still around and still capable. We’re expecting a very difficult challenge on Sunday.”
Rowley will make checks on a number of injured players. Adam Higson (hamstring), Cameron Pitman (shoulder) and Tom Armstrong (shoulder) all missed last week’s victory over Dewsbury Rams.
Eagles coach Mark Aston believes his side are capable of causing a huge shock on Sunday.
Aston said: “We’re still disappointed by what we turned out against Leigh at Owlerton (losing 54-11), and we need to go to their place and make amends.
“They can be beaten, but we will have to be very good.”
Rochdale Hornets v Featherstone Rovers (3.00pm)
Gareth Langley and Mike Ratu remain sidelined for Rochdale Hornets as they prepare to face Featherstone Rovers in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash.
Sean Casey missed out on selection last week, but could come into contention following the Hornets’ 48-6 defeat against Keighley Cougars.
Rovers have amassed 25 more league points than their hosts this year, but coach Andy Hay insists his side will not suffer from complacency.
Hay said: “We’ll turn up against Rochdale knowing we’ll be in for a tough game.
“They’ve been a very tough team over the last few weeks, and they’ve run Leigh close a couple of times.
“We’ll prepare well and take our focus onto the field and just do what we can do.”
Jarrod Sammut looks set to continue at full-back after impressing last week, while Hay has no new injury concerns following a 56-18 victory over North Wales Crusaders.
Workington Town v Batley Bulldogs (3.00pm)
Peter Lupton could come into contention for Workington Town, but Marc Shackley (ankle) is definitely ruled out of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Batley Bulldogs.
Town coach Phil Veivers is aiming to stop the Bulldogs claiming a fifth successive league victory and end a run that has taken John Kear’s side up to fifth in the league table.
Victory for the hosts could lift them out of the relegation zone following last week’s 32-24 win against Swinton Lions.
Veivers said: “We have to fight and scrap for everything we get.”
Bulldogs’ impressive recent form has seen them claim wins against Rochdale, Keighley and North Wales before last week’s 34-4 defeat of Barrow Raiders.
But Kear remains wary of the threat posed by Workington, despite currently being five places above them.
Kear said: “Workington are in 10th place, a relegation spot, and they’re just six points behind us.
“This league is so tight and there’s a lot of rugby to be played yet.”
Kingstone Press Championship One
Gloucestershire All Golds v Hemel Stags (3.00pm)
Casey Canterbury, Aidan Jenkins and Harry Chapman-Walker are all in contention for Gloucestershire All Golds as they bid for a fifth successive victory.
Hunslet Hawks became the All Golds’ latest victims last week, with only Jason Muranka (broken finger) a potential doubt for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship One clash with Hemel Stags.
All Golds coach Steve McCormack said: “We still have massive improvements left in us as individuals and as a team, and we’re looking at continuing our current form on Sunday.”
Romaine Navarette returns from suspension for the Stags, while loan pair Matt Cook and Matthew Tebb are both likely to keep their places in Troy Perkins’ match-day squad.
Perkins said: “Six or eight weeks ago we might have been favourites for this game, but that’s probably not the case now.
“Gloucestershire have had fantastic results against York and Hunslet, and Steve (McCormack) has done great things down there.
“But the pressure’s on them now. They’ve put in a couple of good performances and they’ll be looking to back that up, but we’re not that far off ourselves.”
London Skolars v York City Knights (3.00pm)
London Skolars coach Joe Mbu has challenged his side to overcome a “big mental test” in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship One clash with York City Knights.
Skolars were heavy losers last week, falling 66-6 at home to Gateshead Thunder.
Mbu said: “We need a massive response. All we can do is put it behind us and just respond, and see how the lads come back.
“There were a lot of missed tackles and we didn’t stick defensively when we went up for one-on-one contests, and that was our downfall.
“On Tuesday we turned up at training and said ‘we’ve got eight games left and there’s plenty of opportunity for us to produce some performances in those games’.
“We need to have a positive outlook on what’s ahead. We’re only just over halfway through and we need to keep our heads and spirits up. It’s a big mental test for everyone involved.”
Mbu has no new injury problems, while York coach Gary Thornton wants his side to continue to control their destiny.
Thornton said: “We’re not looking for anybody to give us a lift up. If we win our last seven games we will finish top of the pile.”
Iain Morrison could feature for York after failing a late fitness test before last week’s win over Hemel Stags.