Hooker Penkywicz sits out Leigh’s clash with Doncaster

Leigh's Sean Penkywicz
Leigh's Sean Penkywicz
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A look ahead to this weekend’s action in the Kingstone Press Championship including Leigh’s game against Doncaster at the Sports Village.

Leigh Centurions v Doncaster (3.00pm)

Leigh Centurions will be without suspended Sean Penkywicz as they aim to make it 11 wins out of their first 11 Kingstone Press Championship fixtures in 2014.

The Centurions have already recorded a perfect ten, but coach Paul Rowley is wary of the threat posed by third-placed Doncaster.

Rowley said: “They’ve certainly taken some big scalps, including Featherstone and Sheffield, so it’s as big a game as we can get.

“They’ve got some quality across the pitch and, while we don’t quite know what to expect from them, there’ll be a lot of concentration on ourselves.”

Doncaster coach Paul Cooke insists new signing Steve Snitch will not feature on Sunday.

Cooke has no fresh injury concerns from last week’s defeat against Whitehaven and is likely to give Snitch, who has not played since September, a few weeks to build his fitness.

Cooke said: “Leigh have proven that they’re the benchmark for the competition. They’re well coach, they’ve good quality players, they can hurt you from anywhere, they’ve genuine pace and they’re tough to score against.

“We’ll have it all on, without a shadow of a doubt, and we’ll certainly have to improve on our last two performances.”

He added: “We don’t want to fall into the trap of being beaten before we get there. We’ve really got to concentrate on our attitude and desire, which I’m sure we will because we tend to perform when we’re given no chance.”

Batley Bulldogs v Sheffield Eagles (2.00pm)

Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear insists the “pressure is off” ahead of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship match against Sheffield Eagles.

The Bulldogs have lost their last three league fixtures, suffering defeats against Dewsbury, Whitehaven and Barrow.

They are now in the bottom five, but Kear said: “Playing Sheffield, Featherstone, Halifax or Leigh would have been ideal this week because people’s expectations wouldn’t be that we’d come away successful, and what that means is that the pressure is off – and that’s what the players need.

“This week we can just look at the process of rugby league and concentrate on our own performance.”

He added: “The thing that pleased me most last week was the attitude. We were more spirited, more dogged and more committed, but we still came up short with our execution.

“There are just too many loose errors in our game, and it’s concerning because it’s the same errors that we’re making over and over again.”

Mark Applegarth (calf) remains a major doubt for the Bulldogs, but Josh Griffin returns and Keegan Hirst could feature after rejoining Batley on a month-long loan deal from Featherstone Rovers.

Sheffield coach Mark Aston is boosted by the possible availability of prop Eddie Battye, while Cory Aston could also be included.

North Wales Crusaders v Keighley Cougars (2.30)

North Wales Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths has challenged his players to make drastic improvements to their home form – starting with Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash against Keighley Cougars.

Crusaders have won just one of their first five home games in 2014.

Griffiths said: “When teams to come the Racecourse Stadium they come to a fantastic playing surface, and it lifts them as well. It’s time we put things right at home.”

Andy Moulsdale faces a late fitness test before Griffiths confirms his team to face the Cougars.

Griffiths said: “We’re still a bit Jekyll and Hyde at the moment; when we get it right we’re very good, but we can also be very bad.

“Last week against Halifax we were absolutely outstanding, and if you can get back-to-back wins, and results go your way, you can climb a few places very quickly.

“I was delighted with our performance last week and the guys deserved the points; now we’ve got to build on it this week.”

Ash Lindsay is believed to be close to a return for Keighley, although Sunday’s game may come a week too soon for the loose-forward. Lindsay has missed the last six weeks with a broken leg.

Barrow Raiders v Dewsbury Rams (3.00pm)

Barrow Raiders coach Bobbie Goulding hopes to build on last week’s victory over Batley Bulldogs by exploiting a run of fixtures that sees the Raiders at home for three of their next four Kingstone Press Championship matches.

Raiders remain rooted to the bottom of the table, but the win against Batley has reignited their hopes of avoiding relegation.

Goulding said: “We cannot worry about what other teams are doing, we have just to get on with what we do ourselves.”

Dewsbury coach Glenn Morrison, whose side have five wins and five losses from their 10 league fixtures this year, insists the Rams need a stronger mental approach.

Morrison said: “Teams have always got something to play for, and you’ve got to be ready to play like it’s a Grand Final every week.

“We’ve got to turn up as though it’s a big game every week; it’s a mental thing, we’ve spoken about it as a group and it’s something we’re working on.

“The top teams are consistent and ruthless, and we need to do that every week rather than every other week.”

On Barrow, Morrison added: “They’ll be confident after beating Batley, and Bobbie Goulding will definitely have them pumped up.”

Morrison is forced into a back-row reshuffle after Rob Spicer suffered a rib injury against Leigh Centurions last week.

Featherstone Rovers v Workington Town (3.00pm)

Caretaker coach Danny Evans takes charge of his second Featherstone Rovers fixture in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Workington Town.

Rovers have been boosted by the news that Tim Spears avoided a suspension when he appeared at an RFL disciplinary hearing on Tuesday night.

Spears was fined £50 for a careless high tackle in a recent game against Leigh Centurions, but was deemed not to deserve a ban.

Workington winger Elliott Miller is still sidelined with a back injury as Town coach Phil Veivers tries to plot a victory that would keep his side out of the relegation places.

Veivers said: “It’s a tough game going to up to Featherstone – it’s a hard place to go.

“They had a good result (against Sheffield), they’ve got a pretty decent squad and they’ve got plenty of depth.”

Callum Phillips is expected to be fit despite coming off against Rochdale with a neck problem.

Rochdale Hornets v Halifax (3.00pm)

Alex Trumper could return to action for Rochdale Hornets in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Halifax, but Gareth Langley is expected to miss out with an ongoing ankle injury.

Hornets could climb out of the bottom five with victory over Halifax, but coach Ian Talbot insists his side need to make major improvements from last week’s defeat against Workington Town.

Talbot said: “Some of the boys underestimated Workington and we got caught.

“This week it’s about sticking to the plan we lay out and working as a collective rather than individuals.

“Halifax have had a draw and a loss in their last two games, so I’m sure (coach) Karl Harrison will be winding them up to try to get a response.”

Halifax now face a run of four consecutive away games after last week’s home defeat against North Wales Crusaders.

Harrison said: “We were way off the mark. We couldn’t capitalise on the field position we got.

“People expect this club to be up there challenging, and that’s where want to be. We’ve just got to work harder than everybody else, and that’s what we intend to do.

“We need to create some confidence. We need to put our house in order.”

Whitehaven v Swinton Lions (3.00pm)

Whitehaven coach Dave Woods will give late fitness tests to Paul Jackson and Samir Tarahoui ahead of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship match with Swinton Lions.

Woods has warned his side not to underestimate the Lions, despite their record of only two wins from their first 10 league fixtures this term.

Woods said: “We were at the wrong end of the table and knocked off Doncaster, so we know we need to turn up. They’ve some good players – the Hawkyard brothers are very good – and we need to be ready.”

He added: “For us, what we’re searching for is a bit of consistency. We’ve got a capable squad and we just need to kick on from our last two wins.”

Swinton coach Ian Watson will make at least one change to the team that lost to Keighley last week after Anthony Bowman was ruled out with a wrist injury.

Watson said: “We were better against Keighley, but individual errors and penalties are still costing us.

“Whitehaven seem to be flying at the moment. They recruited a really good squad and it’s another big challenge for us, but it’s something to look forward to.

“Brett Seymour is obviously going to be a threat, but they’ve also got a big pack too.”