Kingstone Press Championship: Round 6 previews

Tom Armstrong of Leigh reaches over to score against Featherstone
Tom Armstrong of Leigh reaches over to score against Featherstone

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

Friday March 27

Dewsbury Rams v Featherstone Rovers (8.00)

Having played three games in seven days, Dewsbury coach Glenn Morrison is happy with his team’s progress: “We did a good job last week against Newcastle,” he said. “Completion-wise we weren’t the best but we got the job done.

“We were able to give three youngsters their debuts and another three had their first game of the year for us so having played three games in a week and getting the result up at Workington it was a job well done.

“There were about eight people who we rested last week so they will be back in the mix this week.”

Looking ahead to the Featherstone game he said: “I don’t like looking at the table too much but we are in fifth and Featherstone are in sixth. We play Batley, who are in seventh, the week after so they are a big couple of games for us. If we can get wins here it can cement our spot and give us a little bit of a buffer but if we lose them, then we’re down in the mix again so it is a big game for both teams and should be a good battle.”

Andy Hay, the Featherstone coach said: “It was a good performance last week against Whitehaven, we needed it and gained a bit of confidence from it. The group as a whole played well and there were some good individual performances.

“Dewsbury have got a good track record against us at home and they are a quality side. They played three games in a week but I think he rested a lot of his players for the cup game so I’m expecting a real tough game.

“We’re looking forward to it, we want to give a good account of ourselves against opposition who are in and around us. We need to be playing well in these games. It’s going to be a big contest and an important one for us.”

Saturday March 28

London Broncos v Halifax (3.00)

Andrew Henderson, the London Broncos coach, is hoping his side can maintain their unbeaten home record against Halifax: “It’s exciting to be back at home in front of our fans,” he said. “Our home form has been very good and the players are looking forward to putting some of the wrongs from last week right, so I’m looking forward to seeing their response.”

“We’re very much looking forward to the challenge that Halifax will bring on Saturday. They’re a good side with a big set of forwards who have got a bit of punch and a bit of an offload game. They have good outside backs as well, Scott Murrell is an influential player. We’re under no false illusions – it’s going to be a tough game.

“This week we get to bring back a couple of our loan signings but there’s not much to add to the team that went out last Friday. I’m still actively looking to bring players into the club but they have to be of the right quality.”

Halifax are coming off a good Cup win at Barrow and coach Richard Marshall is looking forward to the visit to the capital: “We’re pretty confident with our form,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for London, I think they’re a great club and have done some really good stuff in terms of development over the last few years.

“They’re going through a tough patch at the minute but they’ll come out of that – I just hope it’s not this weekend! We rested a couple of players last week who will be coming into the squad so we’ve got a selection dilemma this week. We’re looking at building that momentum and form.”

Sunday March 29

Leigh Centurions v Whitehaven (3.00)

Despite their unbeaten start to the season Leigh assistant coach Neil Jukes insists they’ll be taking nothing for granted when they face Whitehaven: “It will be a difficult game,” he said. “They have been heavily supported by the dual registrations from Widnes and have a lot of experience in there with Thomas Coyle and the young lad John Paul Brocklebank has been going really well for them.

“If we don’t prepare well and don’t perform then we’ll come unstuck so it’s important for us that we treat it like any other game.”

Whitehaven coach James Coyle is under no illusions about the task ahead of his team this week: “Leigh are obviously the form team,” he said. “Nobody has been able to get anywhere near them yet so we’ll be going in to try and improve where we’ve been at. We were a bit better last week so let’s see what happens on the day.

“We hope to have some dual regs back but Widnes have got quite a few injuries at the minute so we’ll have to go with what we’ve got and do our best.”

Doncaster v Batley Bulldogs (2.00)

Doncaster are still without a win in the Championship and were knocked out of the Challenge Cup by North Wales Crusaders. “The players are hurting,” said coach Paul Cooke. “It’s a bit like Groundhog Day on a Tuesday with regards to our reviews and what we’re talking about and the things we need to fix up. We’ve got to fix them up quickly, the players are aware of that. Discipline both with and without the ball is a bit of a problem for us at the minute.

“Having moved Good Friday’s game against Sheffield to Wednesday evening so we have a longer recovery between the long journey to Whitehaven on Monday, our Easter starts here.

“We’ve got a big game against a very good Batley team and that’s all we’re focused on at the minute. I watched their game against Bradford and they were minutes from beating the favourites for the competition so we’re going to have it all on.”

John Kear’s Batley side are coming off a comfortable Cup win against Normanton Knights: “It was a good game for us,” he said. “It didn’t take too much out of our players, which is pleasing because obviously energy-wise we’re entering a really difficult period of the season.

“Last year some would say that Doncaster were the surprise package of the season. They finished fourth in the Championship, which was a heck of an achievement, but obviously their season hasn’t started yet. The danger for us is, it’s going to start at some stage and our challenge is to make sure it’s not this week!”

Second row Brad Hey is likely to sit this game out having been concussed last week.

Bradford Bulls v Workington (3.00)

Workington were beaten 74-6 at Bradford in the Challenge Cup last week but coach Phil Veivers is expecting a better performance from his team: “It’s been very tough,” he said. “We were pretty physically wrecked last time out coming off the back of three games, so having a week to recover, we’ll be more energised.

“We’ll have a couple of fresh bodies which should help us a little bit but Bradford are a good team. They did a number on us in the Challenge Cup but I’m pretty sure we’ll go there in a better frame of mind.”

Veivers is expecting to have prop Marc Shackley and wing Sam Forrester back.

Sheffield Eagles v Hunslet Hawks (4.15)

Hunslet had a tough Challenge Cup game at University of Gloucestershire All Golds last week but coach Barry Eaton believes his side will be all the better for it: “We prepared ourselves for a tough game down at Gloucester and we certainly paid them the respect they deserved,” he said. “We knew they were going to challenge us with the ball in hand but we probably had a little too much power and pace for them but they certainly gave us a good test.

“It’s put us in good stead for the next couple of weeks because we’ve got a real tough period coming up. I was able to rotate the squad a little bit and give some players some game time that had not played much so far. The bulk of the squad have now got a real tough competitive game under their belts and they’re going to need it,

“We’ve got three massive games in eight days, I’d be very surprised if we were able to go with the same 17 in all three.

“Sheffield have only had one defeat and are right up there. We know we’re going to be in for a tough battle but we like a challenge and we hope we’ll be able to exploit some weaknesses in Sheffield’s game that will give us a chance.”