Kingstone Press Championships previews
Sunday July 13
Kingstone Press Championship
Sheffield Eagles v North Wales Crusaders (2.00pm)
Kyle Briggs looks set to be given an immediate Sheffield Eagles debut after signing a two-and-a-half year deal with the South Yorkshire club.
Briggs, who has just spent a month on loan at Dewsbury Rams, completed his switch from Featherstone Rovers earlier this week.
Eagles coach Mark Aston said: “He’s a quality individual who brings a wealth of experience, class and a great attitude to the team.”
But Sunday’s opponents North Wales Crusaders also look set to receive a boost, with coach Anthony Murray hopeful that Mick Govin will be fit to return to action after a recent thigh strain.
Murray said: “Featherstone had Jarrod Sammut making their debut against us, and now Sheffield have got Kyle Briggs. He’s another dangerous player, and one we’ll have to meet the challenge of containing.
“You can never write Sheffield off. They’ve an experienced coach, they gave Leigh a good run last week, and they’ll be looking at this as a possible three points because mathematically they’re still not safe yet.”
Batley Bulldogs v Halifax (3.00pm)
Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear believes last week’s defeat against Workington Town will stand his squad in good stead ahead of a difficult month’s fixtures.
Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash against Halifax starts a run of games that also sees Batley face Featherstone Rovers, Sheffield Eagles and Leigh Centurions.
Kear said: “We played well in patches against Workington, but we looked like a team who’d had a couple of easy wins and we weren’t used to being in a battle and having to grind a result out.
“That test, and that difficult game, will stand us in good stead this week.”
Kear has been dealt a major blow with Miles Greenwood being ruled out for four to six weeks with a broken thumb, while Alex Bretherton is also doubtful for Sunday’s match.
On Halifax, Kear added: “I’m really impressed with them. They’ve copped a lot of criticism at various times in the season, but they’ve stuck to what they believed in and they’re not far behind big spending teams.”
Halifax’s Simon Brown will be checked. He missed last week’s win over Keighley Cougars with a thumb injury, while Danny Cowling, Ben Heaton and Gareth Potts are all pushing for inclusion to face Batley.
However, coach Karl Harrison could be reluctant to change a winning team, having watched his side secure successive victories over Workington Town, Rochdale Hornets, Sheffield Eagles and Keighley in the last four weeks.
Doncaster v Leigh Centurions (3.00pm)
Doncaster coach Paul Cooke believes Leigh Centurions deserve more credit than they are getting following their record-breaking start to the season.
The Centurions have won all 18 of their Kingstone Press Championship fixtures this year.
Cooke said: “I don’t know why people don’t give them the credit they deserve. They’re yet to lose a game in the league and they’re the quickest, best, most skillful team in the competition.
“But having said that, my question to our players is ‘why can’t we be the first to beat them?’
“Too many teams are beaten before they play Leigh. The players have got to believe in themselves, and I’m certain our players believe they can win this game.”
Liam Cunningham (knee) will be assessed before Cooke finalises his team, while Centurions coach Paul Rowley will check on a number of ‘bumps’ before Sunday’s match.
Rowley said: “Doncaster play themselves down a lot, but it’s for us to talk them up.
“They’re still challenging for the top two and they’ve been fantastic all year. I like how they go about their business; they’re patient and they’ve got intelligent people in charge. We know they’re a big threat.”
Keighley Cougars v Workington Town (3.00pm)
Keighley Cougars player-coach Paul March is set to make his return to first-team action on Sunday, just three days after playing for the first time in two months.
March, who was banned for two months after verbally abusing a match official, will play in Keighley’s U20s fixture against Halifax on Thursday night.
He said: “Thursday’s a good opportunity to get a bit of game-time under my belt, and I can’t wait to get back out there on Sunday.
“Danny Jones is a bit of a concern with a hamstring problem, so it’s ideal timing for me to come back in and give Danny another week to recover.”
March added: “Workington had a fantastic win against Batley last week that kept their hopes alive, but we see this as a six-pointer.
“If we win we open up a big gap, so it’s a big game for both clubs. It’ll be a physical battle – they’re a big side that challenge you in certain areas – and we need to stand up to that.”
Workington Town travel without loan signing Declan Hulme, who serves a one-match suspension, but confidence is high in Phil Veivers’ team.
Town have won their last three fixtures, beating Featherstone Rovers and Swinton Lions before last week’s triumph over Batley.
But Veivers said: “Those matches count for nothing now and all I’m concentrating on is the next game on the fixture list.”
Rochdale Hornets v Barrow Raiders (3.00pm)
Rochdale Hornets coach Ian Talbot says there is “a buzz in the camp” after last week’s win over Featherstone Rovers.
Now Talbot wants to maintain the momentum by securing a win over Barrow Raiders on Sunday.
Talbot said: “I doubted the result with five minutes to go, but massive credit needs to go to our lads – they reacted positively and got themselves back in front when it mattered most.
“This game against Barrow is massive for both teams, and I’m sure it’ll be one Bobbie (Goulding) has marked down as ‘must win’.
“If we can get a good result and put ourselves five points clear of them, that’s great, but I’m looking at getting three points closer to Swinton rather than three away from the bottom.”
Stuart Littler and Dave Llewellyn will both be checked before Sunday’s game, but Tony Suffolk is available for the hosts.
Raiders coach Bobbie Goulding hopes to have Liam Campbell available, while Ben Karalius and Bradley Goulding are also expected to be pushing for places.
Coach Goulding is hoping for a big improvement on last week’s defeat against Whitehaven.
He said: “We just don’t know how to win football games. We just do not have the experience, the nous, or the intelligence.”
Swinton Lions v Featherstone Rovers (3.00pm)
Swinton Lions forward Luke Menzies (shoulder) will be assessed before Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship fixture against Featherstone Rovers.
But John Duffy’s side could be boosted by the inclusion of Martin Ainscough, who rejoined Swinton earlier this week.
Duffy said: “We’re really pleased to have Martin back at the club. He’s a very talented player, and just what we need at this time.
“He’s trained with the squad and looked very sharp, and we’ll look at him again before Sunday’s big match.”
Ben Blackmore and Kyle Trout are both doubts for Featherstone, as they look to bounce back from last week’s shock defeat against Rochdale Hornets.
Rovers coach Andy Hay said: “We didn’t do ourselves any favours and our discipline wasn’t good again. You can’t give teams a start, but that’s what we seem to be doing.
“We’ve got to fix up a lot of things. We’ve got no excuses – some of the players who played (last week) didn’t do themselves justice.”
Whitehaven v Dewsbury Rams (3.00pm)
Buoyant Whitehaven coach Dave Woods has set his sights on another Kingstone Press Championship victory after last week’s win over Barrow Raiders.
Woods said: “We’ll definitely be looking for another three points at home to Dewsbury.
“I hope we can get plenty of fans down (because) it’s going to be another good day. We’ll put in a big stint and take it week by week.”
Dewsbury coach Glenn Morrison is waiting to hear on news about Ben Hellewell, who dislocated his finger in last week’s win over Swinton Lions.
Morrison said: “In the first half we were probably a little bit down on what we needed to be, but we worked hard for each other, spoke at half time about upping our intensity and kicking on, and we did that well after the break.
“We’ve now got through a tough period, but we’ve got to make sure we take every game as a big one.”
He added: “Whitehaven have been playing some good footy. They’ve some quality players and they’re getting good results of late.
“They’re saying in the press that they want to kick on, so we’ve got to be ready for everything they can throw at us come Sunday afternoon.”
Kingstone Press Championship One
Hunslet Hawks v South Wales Scorpions (3.00pm)
Gavin Duffy (shoulder) and Liam Hood (hamstring) are both major doubts as Hunslet Hawks prepare to host South Wales Scorpions in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship One clash.
But Hawks coach Barry Eaton expects to have Stuart Kain and Danny Ansell available after both came through training without any problems.
Eaton said: “We had a tough afternoon in South Wales earlier this year; they’ve got some talent and ability.
“They might lack of a bit of experience, but what you get with youth is that every now and again they pull a rabbit out of the hat performance-wise. We need to make sure we’re at our best.”
Chris Vitalini returns for the Scorpions, while Morgan Evans is also likely to keep his place after impressing last week.
However, influential trio Neil Dallimore, Paul Emanuelli and Connor Farrer are all ruled out, along with Shaun Owens.
South Wales coach Mike Grady said: “It couldn’t get any tougher this week, but we’ll prepare for it like we do any other game.
“We’ll give it a good go and see if we can come away with something. It’s a pretty even league. If you’re up for it on the day and do the little things right, anyone can get a result.”
London Skolars v Hemel Stags (3.00pm)
London Skolars coach Joe Mbu wants to build on his side’s progress last week as they prepare for a local derby with Hemel Stags.
Skolars picked up a bonus point in their last Kingstone Press Championship One outing, losing 30-20 against York City Knights in a performance that left Mbu encouraged.
He said: “We worked together as a team – something that hasn’t been the case in some of our recent matches.”
But Hemel coach Troy Perkins is also in confident mood after his side’s success against Gloucestershire All Golds.
The Stags look set to be boosted by the returns of Alex Ingarfield and Ben Young for Sunday’s clash.
Perkins said: “On paper Skolars are a very good team. They’ve a lot of quality players, but for whatever reason they haven’t been putting it together.
“But I’ve already spoken to our players about ignoring the table, because it’s a derby game and they’ll have targeted this as a game they want to win more than any other.”
Oldham v Gloucestershire All Golds (3.00pm)
New signing Adam Clay could come into contention for Oldham just four days after joining the club.
Clay, 23, has agreed a short-term deal with Oldham lasting until the end of the year.
Coach Scott Naylor said: “We are light on outside backs and although he’s predominantly a winger, he could operate equally well at centre or full-back.
“Adam can play across the back line and he’s a perfect fit for what we’ve been looking for.”
He added: “Having last weekend off will have done everybody good and we must now focus on a block of four tough games before we get our next break.”
Gloucestershire All Golds coach Steve McCormack is expected to be without Jarrod Ward, Isaac Duffy and Aidan Jenkins after last week’s bruising defeat against Hemel Stags.
However, Richard Jones and Joe McClean could both be available for the trip north.
McCormack said: “Sunday’s game is a good opportunity to test ourselves again against a top side.
“Oldham have been the bench mark team in this division over the last few years and our game against them a few weeks ago was a tremendous advert for Kingstone Press Championship One.”
Oxford v York City Knights (3.00pm)
Oxford coach Tony Benson should have JJ Baird available again after he missed last week’s win over South Wales Scorpions.
Full-back Sean Morris (knee) and prop Karl Temata (back) will be assessed before Benson finalises his line-up to face a York City Knights team competing in their fourth successive away game.
Knights coach Gary Thornton said: “We’ve had three of these long trips one after the other, and this is the last one is this little group.
“We’ve just got to bash them off one by one. We targeted four wins out of four, and we’ve got to try to make sure we complete the job on Sunday.”
On Oxford, Thornton added: “We owe them a bit of revenge after they did us at our place. Sean Morris ripped us apart that day, so we certainly know what he can do.
“We know it’s not going to be easy task on Sunday. They’ve halted a run of defeats and that might give them a big boost in confidence.”
Brad Brennan (suspended) and Greg Minikin (shoulder) are ruled out, but Nathan Freer is available and Iain Morrison is rated 50/50.