Eagles out to thwart Leigh’s record bid

Leigh's Sam Barlow is an injury doubt for Sunday's game at Sheffield. Photo: Brian King.
Leigh's Sam Barlow is an injury doubt for Sunday's game at Sheffield. Photo: Brian King.

A look ahead to this weekend’s action in the Kingstone Press Championship including Leigh’s trip to Sheffield.

Sheffield Eagles v Leigh Centurions (2.00pm)

Leigh Centurions could make history on Sunday with a club-record 15th successive victory, but coach Paul Rowley believes Sheffield Eagles will be determined to spoil the party.

The Centurions have a 100 per cent record this season and a win in south Yorkshire would set a new record for the famous club.

But Rowley said: “It’s more motivation for Sheffield than it is for us. They’re at home, they’ll want to correct a few things Mark (Aston) hasn’t been happy with lately, and we’re expecting a fiery encounter. They’re a good team.”

However, Rowley admitted the prospect of rewriting the record books is something the Centurions have spoken about.

He said: “In normal circumstances you’d say we’re not bothered about it, but we are. We’re aware it, and while we’re not talking about it too much, it’s been mentioned and addressed early in the week.

“We’re just as desperate to win this game as we were last week or the week before that. We’ve hit a good run and we obviously want to keep that going.”

Sam Barlow remains sidelined for the Centurions, while Adam Higson also faces a late fitness test.

Rowley added: “It’s probably a good time for Sheffield to get us, but we’ll be very hungry. Whoever comes in will be a good player and highly motivated.”

Eagles coach Mark Aston is demanding more from his players, despite their 16-12 victory over Batley Bulldogs last week.

Aston said: “The concern is that people are not doing what I ask them to do. I’ve shown them how to play and win, yet some do what they want. I’ll go back to basics in training.”

Dewsbury Rams v Halifax (3.00pm)

Dewsbury Rams winger Greg Scott could be facing an extended spell on the sidelines after suffering a knee injury against Barrow Raiders.

Rams coach Glenn Morrison said: “We don’t know how bad it is yet – we’re hoping it’s not as bad as they first feared – but he needs to have a scan and he’ll definitely be missing this week.”

Rob Spicer (ribs) is also sidelined, with Morrison likely to reshuffle his side for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Halifax.

Morrison added: “We’ve got a tough period coming up and we’ve just got to keep on picking up points.

“Halifax are a top-four side and always have been. They’re very tough, but they’re probably similar to us this year in that they’ve had good wins and then some off days too where they’ve probably not got the result they wanted.”

He added: “We’re sitting in sixth spot, but we could have been higher. We’ve dropped some games we probably shouldn’t have, but we’re in an OK position halfway through the season.”

Halifax coach Karl Harrison will be looking for a repeat of last week’s 28-12 victory over Rochdale Hornets. Harrison said: “In the first half we were excellent at times.”

Doncaster v Rochdale Hornets (3.00pm)

Doncaster’s Lee Waterman is facing three months on the sidelines with a dislocated shoulder, forcing coach Paul Cooke into a reshuffle ahead of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Rochdale Hornets.

Cooke said: “A lot of the teams that have been promoted this year are now finding their feet in the Championship.

“It takes time – 12 months ago we were bottom of the league – but Rochdale are in some good form.

“We’re not taking this as a given, absolutely not. We need to make improvements on our last three games, although last week we did take some strides forward from the previous two.”

Dave Llewellyn is a major doubt for Rochdale after his ankle reacted badly to last week’s match against Halifax.

Gareth Langley and Danny Davies are also set to miss out, but Alex Trumper should return for the Hornets.

Coach Ian Talbot said: “I don’t read too much into Doncaster’s loss last week – they were away at Leigh, who’ve been doing that to everybody.

“We know Doncaster are a quality team, and when you’ve got experienced players like Paul Cooke you’re always going to ask questions.”

Featherstone Rovers v Whitehaven (3.00pm)

Featherstone Rovers could have Etu Uaisele and Andy Bostock available for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Whitehaven.

The pair were believed to be closing in on returns from hamstring and ankle injuries respectively, but both missed out against Workington Town last week as Rovers marked Andy Hay’s first game in charge with a 32-20 victory.

But despite that result, Hay believes he has “a lot to fix up” as Rovers prepare for the visit of in-form Whitehaven.

The Cumbrians have won four of their last five league games, including last week’s 22-18 triumph over Swinton Lions.

Whitehaven coach Dave Woods said: “We’re still not playing great for long periods of the game and we’ve got a bit of work to do, but we’re happy with how things are moving forward.

“We were under the pump against Swinton in the first half, but we did really well after half time.

“This week we’ve got another tough one – they’re all tough in this league – but we can go there confident and hopefully play well.”

Larsen Marabe (knee) is not expected to play after having an adverse reaction following last week’s game, but Paul Jackson could return to action.

Keighley Cougars v Barrow Raiders (3.00pm)

Keighley Cougars coach Paul March has hailed his side’s attitude after they record their third successive Kingstone Press Championship victory last week.

The Cougars won 16-14 at North Wales Crusaders and are only four points behind third-placed Halifax.

March said: “We’re getting that consistency now. It’s three wins on the bounce, and four if you include the Challenge Cup.

“We’re getting momentum and winning’s becoming a habit, but our feet are on the ground and we know that we need to keep working hard.

“We had a goal to win our last three and we achieved that, and we sat down on Tuesday and set some more goals for the next chunk of games coming up.”

Ash Lindsay is doubtful for the Cougars after suffering a leg injury against the Crusaders, with March vowing that “everyone who plays on Sunday will be 100 per cent”.

March added: “Defensively we were ok last week, but we tried scoring off every play and made too many errors. It’s something we need to work on because Bobbie (Goulding) will have Barrow ready to go.

“We can see where he’s changed the side, and there’s talk of him playing and a number of Salford guys coming in too. We just need to concentrate on what we’re doing. If we’re patient and defensively strong, it should be a happy day.”

Barrow Raiders coach Goulding was left fuming with his side’s defeat against Dewsbury Rams last week.

He said: “For 20 minutes we looked like a Super League team. After that a team of amateurs would have beaten us.”

Swinton Lions v Batley Bulldogs (3.00pm)

Swinton Lions coach Ian Watson has no new injury concerns following last week’s 22-18 defeat against Whitehaven.

But Watson remains without Anthony Bowman for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship match against Batley Bulldogs, while Jack Cooper has had to go back to hospital after his knee became infected following a recent operation.

However, Watson has received some good news after Steve Lewis signed a permanent contract with the club.

Batley coach John Kear is aiming to build on last week’s narrow defeat against Sheffield Eagles by recording a first win in five league matches.

Kear said: “We were unlucky not to come away with a positive result.

“The effort and application was there, and I’m sure a win is not too far away.”

The Bulldogs are without Alistair Leek, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season with ligament damage, while Mark Applegarth (calf) is also sidelined.

Workington Town v North Wales Crusaders (3.00pm)

Karl Olstrum returns for Workington Town in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash against North Wales Crusaders, but Andy Morris looks set to remain on the sidelines.

Struggling Town have won just one of their last seven league fixtures, but have taken points from their last five games having drawn against Halifax and secured three bonus points.

Jamie Durbin returns for North Wales, who have no new injury concerns after last week’s narrow defeat against Keighley Cougars.

Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths said: “Our attack let us down. The things we could control, we didn’t control, and as a result we ended up with a 39 per cent completion rate.

“We only lost by a goal-kick, so if we’d have put anything like together in attack then we’d have won the game.”

However, he insisted: “The defensive efforts in the last two weeks have been outstanding.

“Our lack of ball control was the key thing, but all credit to Keighley – their halves dictated well.

“Once you get in positions, you’ve got to be clinical – and we weren’t. It’s a different division, and that’s what we’ve got to get used to. If we get it right, we’ll get results, but we’re up and down like the Rhondda valleys.”