A look ahead to this weekend#s action in the Kingstone Press Championship including Leigh’s trip to Workington.
Workington Town v Leigh Centurions (3.00pm)
Workington Town coach Phil Veivers will give fitness tests to Dan Rooney (hand), Kris Coward (elbow) and Graeme Mattinson (groin) ahead of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship fixture with Leigh Centurions.
Town are aiming to become the first team to beat Leigh this year, with the Centurions setting a club record of 15 successive victories with last week’s triumph over Sheffield Eagles.
Veivers said: “We’ve another tough month, playing Leigh, Sheffield, Halifax and Featherstone. As long as we bring our A-game, we’ll be OK.”
Adam Higson and Sam Hopkins are both available for Leigh, with coach Paul Rowley insisting his team will not relax after their record-breaking feat last week.
Rowley said: “We know Workington’s dangers – we had a tough day there last year.
“They’ve been going well and they’ve got a strong Wigan influence, and we’ve had a huge focus on this week – probably bigger than any of our previous weeks.
“We know we’re going to have to be absolutely on fire to get what we want out of this fixture. Workington are very difficult opponents.”
Batley Bulldogs v Featherstone Rovers (2.00pm)
Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear insists his side will have a “smile on our face” when they host Featherstone Rovers on Sunday.
The Bulldogs ended a four-match losing streak by winning 33-18 at Swinton Lions last week.
Now former England coach Kear believes his team can start to turn around their stuttering season, having won just five of their first 12 league fixtures in 2014.
Kear said “The players got their reward for turning their attitude around and applying themselves with a great work ethic.
“They’ve copped a bit in the last month, but we can now look forward to Featherstone.
“We’ll have a good look at Featherstone and turn up with a smile on our face, ready to play some good rugby league.”
Rovers pair Andy Kain and Etu Uaisele face fitness tests after leaving the field during Featherstone’s 50-14 win over Whitehaven.
Featherstone coach Andy Hay said: “There’s a tough group of players here and they’re sticking together well.
“We want to push the ball around. We’re still learning and finding our feet as a team, but defensively I was really pleased (against Whitehaven).”
Barrow Raiders v Rochdale Hornets (3.00pm)
Barrow Raiders coach Bobbie Goulding is expected to make a shock return to action by facing former club Rochdale Hornets in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash.
The 42-year-old former Great Britain international looks set to dust off his boots in a bid to help Barrow try to climb off the foot of the Championship table.
The Raiders have won just two of their 12 league fixtures this year, and Goulding believes he still has the fitness and ability to make a difference.
Goulding said: “The team needs a change (and) I am in contention.”
Danny Davies could be available for Rochdale after missing last week’s defeat against Doncaster due to work commitments.
But Hornets coach Ian Talbot looks set to be without Tony Suffolk and Mike Ratu for Sunday’s trip to Cumbria.
Dewsbury Rams v North Wales Crusaders (3.00pm)
Dewsbury Rams coach Glenn Morrison believes a solid next month will pay big dividends for his side as they approach the later stages of this season.
The Rams face a daunting June, with fixtures against Featherstone, Sheffield, Doncaster and Leigh following Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with North Wales Crusaders.
Morrison said: “We’ve got a tough period coming up, but we’ve a couple of home games as well and if we can keep getting points during this period it will set us up nicely for the end of the year.”
Greg Scott remains sidelined for the Rams, while North Wales travel without Andy Moulsdale. Seb Martins is also ruled out as he serves a one-match ban.
Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths is aiming for another strong defensive display.
He said: “In our last three away games we’ve gone to Workington, Halifax and Whitehaven and conceded only 16 points in total. The boys need a bit of credit for what they’re doing.”
He added: “Our grit and determination was our big positive last week. We showed we were prepared to dig deep, and we’re staying in games on the back of our defensive efforts. Hopefully we can continue that trend.”
Keighley Cougars v Halifax (3.00pm)
Keighley Cougars coach Paul March is aiming to continue an excellent run of form when his side host local rivals Halifax in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship derby.
Keighley’s 27-18 victory over Barrow Raiders extended their winning run to five matches.
March said: “It’s the first time in five or six years that the club has managed to put a run together like that.
“There are special things happening at Keighley. Winning’s a habit, and it will take something special to break that habit – hopefully it’s not on Sunday.”
He added: “This is our local derby. These games have always been close over the last few years, and were expecting it to be close again.
“We’re in the winning mentality and it will take someone special to disrupt us, but Karl (Harrison) will have them fired up. They’re probably underperforming by their standards, but we can’t worry about that.
“We need to keep working hard, and if we do that then we can get to where we want to be come the end of the year.”
Cougars duo James Craven and Ash Lindsay both face late fitness tests, while former England winger Peter Fox could make his debut for Halifax.
Halifax coach Karl Harrison said: “We need to keep working hard. It’s been a tough few weeks and we’re trying to spark things up, but we’re not too far off.”
Swinton Lions v Doncaster (3.00pm)
Swinton Lions coach Ian Watson wants his side to cut out the errors when they host Doncaster in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship fixture.
The Lions lost 33-18 against Batley Bulldogs last week, but Watson is keen not to make the same mistakes this week.
He said: “We’ve a lot of guys who are still learning the game, and it showed at times (against Batley).”
Swinton are without Liam Hulme, Anthony Bowman, Jack Cooper and Danny Halliwell, and their task is not made any easier by Doncaster coach Paul Cooke having a fully fit squad.
Doncaster were comfortable 40-10 winners over Rochdale Hornets last week, and Cooke rewarded that performance by giving his players Tuesday night off in a bid to keep them fresh.
Cooke said: “We’re steadily building. Nothing’s won in April or May, and while we’re happy with where we’re at, we want to keep taking steps forward as the year goes on.”
On Swinton, Cooke added: “They’re a dangerous outfit at home, and we’ll need the same attitude as last week.
“If we don’t have the right attitude then we’ll get stung, because they’ve got some very good players. Guys like Ian Watson, Gareth O’Brien, Glenn Riley and the Hawkyard brothers – they know what they’re doing and we’ll have it all on come Sunday afternoon.”
Whitehaven v Sheffield Eagles (3.00pm)
Whitehaven coach Dave Woods has been dealt a triple injury blow ahead of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship showdown with Sheffield Eagles.
Cain Southernwood (thumb), Carl Forster (dislocated finger) and Paul Jackson (elbow) are all ruled out of the clash with Mark Aston’s Eagles, forcing Woods into a major reshuffle.
And Woods is demanding a major improvement on last week’s display, when Featherstone Rovers emerged 50-14 winners over the Cumbrians.
Woods said: “We had a few opportunities but it (the score) was probably a fair reflection. We weren’t great.
“We should get a response this week, but Sheffield are coming on the back of a 50 point loss as well, so we know it’s going to be tough.
“They’re going to turn up wanting to make amends, and that’s the beauty of playing every week. We’re sure they’ll be looking to bounce back as soon as possible, but we’ve got to do everything we can to make sure it isn’t this week.”
Sheffield coach Mark Aston could have trialist Theo Gonzalez-Trique available as he urges a collective approach amongst his squad following last week’s 54-12 defeat against Leigh.
Aston said: “You need to do things together and we’re not – people are doing what they want to do and that’s when things come crashing.”