Kingstone Press Championships previews
Saturday July 19
Kingstone Press Championship
Leigh Centurions v Keighley Cougars (6.30pm)
New signing Jonny Walker could come into contention for his Leigh Centurions debut after joining the club until the end of 2015.
The former Hull KR forward, 23, made the switch last week but missed out on selection in Leigh’s first league defeat of the season – a 24-16 loss against Doncaster.
But Keighley Cougars are also boosted ahead of Sunday’s match, with player-coach Paul March expecting Danny Jones and Luke Haigh to both be fit for the trip to Leigh Sports Village.
March, who made his own return to action last week, has Danny Lawton on standby should Daley Williams (arm) be ruled out.
March said: “The league is very tight and that’s what the onlookers want to see.
“Every point is going to count towards our survival in this competition. If we do what we want to do in these seven games, it doesn’t matter what anybody else does.
“Togetherness and belief is the big thing. We’ve got the skills and the systems to break teams down, but we’ve just got to have that belief instead of switching off at times.”
Sunday July 20
Kingstone Press Championship
North Wales Crusaders v Dewsbury Rams (2.30pm)
North Wales Crusaders coach Anthony Murray hopes to have Mick Govin, Rob Massam and Stephen Wild all available for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship showdown with Dewsbury Rams.
Murray said: “This season looks like going right to the wire for quite a few teams, but we’re just trying to take each game as it comes and concentrate on the areas we need to improve.
“If we can do that, then we can compete in each game we’ve got left. If we’d been a little bit smarter in attack against Sheffield last week, then we could have come away with more than we did.”
On Dewsbury, he added: “They’re another good team who can boast top quality players. We’re going to be up against it, because even though they got beat last week they showed they can score tries.”
Rams travel without Callan Beckett (knee) and Stephen Nash (concussion) as coach Glenn Morrison attempts to secure a win that could keep his side in fifth place.
Morrison said: “North Wales are playing some good rugby and they’ve got to win virtually every game now to stay up, so they’re playing for their lives. We know exactly how tough it’s going to be.”
Barrow Raiders v Sheffield Eagles (3.00pm)
Barrow Raiders player-coach Bobbie Goulding serves the final match of a five-game suspension when his side host Sheffield Eagles in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash.
Raiders are five points adrift at the foot of the table and look likely to be relegated in the coming weeks.
But Goulding wants his players to produce a string of passionate performances as the season comes to a close.
He said: “It’s about players playing with pride and having a go for the speccies. They’ve been good to us, and it’s about a little bit of payback time.”
Eagles coach Mark Aston has a slight doubt over Menzie Yere (knee) as Sheffield search for a second successive win.
Eagles triumphed 24-16 against North Wales Crusaders last week, but Aston was still unhappy with aspects of his side’s performance.
He said: “There are other people waiting in the wings that might get an opportunity.”
Doncaster v Swinton Lions (3.00pm)
Doncaster coach Paul Cooke has fired a warning to his team, insisting they cannot afford to take their foot off the pedal following last week’s 24-16 win over Leigh Centurions.
Cooke’s men became the first team to beat Leigh in a league fixture this year, and are now just two points behind second-placed Featherstone Rovers.
But Cooke said: “It’s certainly not acceptable to turn up and lose against Swinton when we’ve shown so much commitment the week before. The challenge is to turn up and make sure there’s no complacency.
“We’ve got to win the battles that are more winnable than others. “
Cooke and Mike Kelly are both major doubts for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship fixture
Swinton coach John Duffy is calling for increased ball control from his side ahead of the trip to West Yorkshire.
Lions lost 48-24 against Featherstone Rovers last week. Duffy said: “We played some good stuff and scored some good tries, but you can't give a side like that too much of the ball in the middle – they punished us every time.
“But we’ll continue to work hard in training and I am sure it will come right soon for us.”
Featherstone Rovers v Batley Bulldogs (3.00pm)
Featherstone Rovers coach Andy Hay insists his side can still make major improvements – despite winning 48-24 against Swinton Lions last week.
Rovers are second in the Kingstone Press Championship table, 10 points behind leaders Leigh Centurions.
Hay said: “It was great to get the win, but we clocked off a few times and made too many errors.
“We need to address that and we are still a long way from our best. Allowing Swinton to score as many as they did was not acceptable.”
Rovers will again be without James Lockwood (suspended), while Batley Bulldogs prop Adam Gledhill is a major doubt after suffering an injury against Halifax last week.
Miles Greenwood is also ruled out with a broken thumb, but Bulldogs coach John Kear is in confident mood.
Kear said: “The players are feeling pretty good about themselves, and they’re looking forward to the challenge of going over to Featherstone.”
Halifax v Whitehaven (3.00pm)
Halifax coach Karl Harrison is calling for more composure in his team after they drew 22-22 with Batley Bulldogs.
Harrison said: “We were cruising, but we love a good self-destruct at times at Halifax. It was extremely disappointing.
“If we had good game-management we’d have won comfortably.”
And Harrison insists his side will need to be at full power to beat Whitehaven in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship fixture.
He said: “Anybody can beat anybody at this level. If you turn up a little bit soft, you’ll get beat.”
Whitehaven coach Dave Woods could include Samir Tahraoui, who has recovered from a recent ankle problem.
Woods watched as Whitehaven won 40-34 against Dewsbury Rams last week, but says more concentration is needed if his side is to fulfill its potential.
Woods said: “We can’t afford to come up with those little errors, because that’s then letting teams into the game.”
Workington Town v Rochdale Hornets (3.00pm)
Workington Town coach Phil Veivers has the option of recalling Declan Hulme following his recent suspension.
Town have now won four consecutive games to move within three points of fifth-placed Dewsbury Rams.
Veivers was frustrated with his side’s second-half display against Keighley Cougars last week, but is now focusing on a fifth straight victory.
Veivers said: “Our confidence is bound to be high because we’ve got a bit of momentum about us.”
Hornets coach Ian Talbot hopes to have Mike Ratu and Gareth Langley available for selection, while Shaun Robinson could also feature after joining Rochdale from Dewsbury Rams.
Talbot’s men won 54-22 against Barrow Raiders last week. He said: “If we compete set for set with any team at this level, we’ll give ourselves a chance.
“That will be our aim, and then hopefully that frustrates Workington.
“They were the bonus point masters at one stage, but since then they’ve won four games and are competing for ninth spot, so they’ll be the favourites. We’ll just concentrate on ourselves and what we can control.”
Kingstone Press Championship One
Hemel Stags v South Wales Scorpions (2.30pm)
Matt Cook is Hemel Stags’ only doubt ahead of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship One clash with struggling South Wales Scorpions.
But Stags coach Troy Perkins has warned his side to show any complacency against a Scorpions side with only one league win in 2014.
Perkins said: “They’ll be looking to get their second win of the season and they’ve got nothing to lose. They never give in and they keep coming at you.
“There’s no pressure on them. They throw the ball about and back themselves. I’m sure they’ll pick up another win by the end of the season, but hopefully not this week.
“We know we’ve got to put in an 80-minute performance, and we haven’t done that over the last few weeks. We all know we need to be better.”
Neil Dallimore returns for South Wales, who have a slight concern over hooker Connor Farrer.
Scorpions coach Mike Grady is demanding a response after last week’s 74-0 defeat against Hunslet Hawks.
Grady said: “It wasn’t acceptable. There have only been two or three games this year that I haven’t been happy with, but that was one of them.
“The players realised as a group that it wasn’t acceptable and they know they need a reaction this week. We’ve been in three times this week trying to put things right.”
Gloucestershire All Golds v Gateshead Thunder (3.00pm)
Gloucestershire All Golds coach Steve McCormack is hopeful of having both Izaak Duffy and Aiden Jenkins available for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship One match against Gateshead Thunder.
The pair missed last week’s 46-6 defeat at Oldham, but could both be back for a fixture that could have a major impact on the top five.
Victory for the All Golds would see them pull at least seven points clear of sixth-placed Gateshead.
Gloucestershire coach Steve McCormack said: “It’s impossible to win every game, but it’s important how you bounce back. This week is really important for us.”
Thunder, who have had a two-week preparation for Sunday’s clash, are boosted by the arrival of Benn Hardcastle on a month-long loan deal.
Lee Mapals also looks set to return to action following a recent knee injury, giving coach Stanley Gene plenty of options ahead of the long trip south.
York City Knights v Oldham (3.00pm)
York City Knights coach Gary Thornton has labeled Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship One clash with Oldham as “massive”.
The Knights currently top the table and could pull six points clear of second-placed Oldham.
But Oldham, who have a game in hand on the Knights, could draw level at the top of the table if they take the points.
Thornton said: “This is a massive game. We know teams below us have all got games in hand and are chasing us hard, so it’s important we take these opportunities.
“Our destiny is in our own hands; if we win all our remaining games, we’ll finish top.
“But this is going to be a much tougher task than recent weeks. It will be a lot more intense and played at a faster speed.”
Thornton is likely to name an unchanged squad, with Iain Morrison (arm) and Brad Brennan (suspended) still ruled out.
Danny Whitmore is available for Oldham, who will give Kenny Hughes as long as possible to prove his fitness after he suffered an ankle injury last week.
Oldham were 46-6 winners over Gloucestershire All Golds last week. Coach Scott Naylor said: “We need to take that form into our next three games and see where we are after that.”