A look ahead to this weekend’s action in the Kingstone Press Championship including Leigh’s clash with Rochdale at the Sports Village.
Sunday March 30
Leigh Centurions v Rochdale Hornets (3.00pm)
Leigh Centurions forward Martin Aspinwall is battling a rib injury ahead of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Rochdale Hornets.
Aspinwall suffered the injury against North Wales Crusaders and is a major doubt for Sunday’s match along with Matt Sarsfield (tonsillitis).
Centurions coach Paul Rowley said: “We need to improve across the board because Rochdale have done enough in all their games to show that they can play rugby and score points.
“They’ve been in front in a few games and scored some good tries. They’ve obviously got it in them, and now they’ve got that first win they’ll sense an opportunity and want to lay down a marker on Sunday, but we’ll prepare well and we’ll be better than last week.”
Rowley could include a number of youngsters after praising the efforts of U20s coach Paul Anderson. He said: “Paul, Simon Finnigan and Steve Mayo have done a great job. All the younger players are challenging for spots and we might see one or two this week.”
Rochdale centre Dave Llewellyn is waiting for news on a possible broken ankle, and will miss Sunday’s trip to Leigh Sports Village.
Hornets coach Ian Talbot said: “It was a great performance by us last week against Batley.
“We’ll keep going along doing what we’re doing and let people think Batley were bad, because that’s all we’ve read.”
Dewsbury Rams v Workington Town (3.00pm)
Dewsbury Rams forward Lucas Walshaw is unavailable to face Workington Town after biting through his tongue in last week’s 46-10 defeat against Sheffield Eagles.
Rams coach Glenn Morrison said: “Lucas had a full night in hospital getting his tongue reattached, so he won’t be ready for Sunday.”
Aaron Brown is also doubtful as the Rams look to get back to winning ways.
Morrison added: “The whole day went wrong for us last week and we need to rectify that and make sure we turn up with the right mental attitude against Workington.
“We know we’re a good side and can play footy, we’ve just got to turn up and do it.
“The boys have worked hard this week and they want to put things right, but Workington will be a difficult challenge.
“I know Phil Veivers well. He’s a great coach with a heap of experience and you can see already that he’s having an impact there.”
Town are still without Karl Olstrum, who misses the game due to the final week of a two-match suspension.
Workington lost 24-22 against Keighley Cougars last week despite leading 22-4, but coach Phil Veivers has promised his team will “learn, regroup and go again” on Sunday.
Featherstone Rovers v Swinton Lions (3.00pm)
Featherstone Rovers coach John Bastian insists his side must make improvements if they are to beat Swinton Lions in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash.
Rovers lost 22-16 against Doncaster last week, and Bastian is under no illusions about the threat Swinton will pose.
Bastian said: “It won’t be easy. We’ve got some fixing up to do going into this game and we need to be smarter and mre intense.”
Swinton travel without suspended pair Richie Hawkyard and Mike Morrison, but have no new injury concerns ahead of Sunday’s match.
Lions coach Ian Watson said: “We were pleased to get the result last week, but we seem to be having blips where we slacken off and we can’t afford to be having them.
“Defence is a big focus for us this week, and hopefully we can put that work into place against one of the best attacking teams in the competition.
“Featherstone are a good team, they’ve a good coach in John Bastian, and we know they’ll be fired up to play regardless of the defeat they suffered last week.”
Halifax v Doncaster (3.00pm)
Ben Heaton (knee) and Danny Cowling (ankle) face late fitness tests before Halifax coach Karl Harrison can finalise his team to face Doncaster in Sunday’s mouthwatering Kingstone Press Championship clash.
Halifax have three wins from their first five games of the season, including last week’s 36-14 triumph at Whitehaven.
Harrison said: “We’re doing OK. We’re still a million miles from where we need to be, but it could easily have been five wins from five. We’re doing something right.”
Doncaster’s strong start to the season continued last week with victory over Featherstone Rovers.
Doncaster coach Paul Cooke said: “We’re delighted with where we are in terms of our win/loss ratio, but we’ve still got plenty to do.
“We need to make the top eight and guarantee ourselves a place in this league for next season, and that priority doesn’t change.”
He added: “We had an interesting video session on Monday, and a lot of it was negative.
“Right now we’re a tough team to beat, but teams know if they hang in there they’ll be given opportunities. We’ve got to go up to the next level.”
Matty Wildie could make his Doncaster debut after joining on a month-long loan deal from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, while Danny Nicklas is also in contention.
Keighley Cougars v Sheffield Eagles (3.00pm)
Keighley Cougars are without Ash Lindsay after he suffered a broken leg against Workington Town last week.
Cougars coach Paul March said: “Ash is going to be in plaster for six weeks and it’s a massive loss for us, but we’ve got a decent squad this year and Scott Law or Ross Peltier will get their chance this week.”
March will miss Sunday’s clash with Sheffield Eagles as the final punishment in a four-match ban, while James Haley is still three weeks away from full fitness.
March said: “We showed a lot of character coming from behind against Workington, but this week is a different story. We can’t give Sheffield a start like that.
“We need to stick to the game-plan and make sure we don’t get bored of it. We got back into it in the last 20 minutes against Workington and played with a bit more tempo, but we need to be switched on for the full 80 minutes this week.”
He added: “Sheffield are back-to-back champions, and it doesn’t get any bigger than that.”
Sheffield winger Scott Turner is looking to extend his try-scoring run to nine consecutive games in Sunday’s match at Cougar Park.
North Wales Crusaders v Batley Bulldogs (2.30pm)
North Wales Crusaders will make late checks on Andy Moulsdale, Jono Smith, Toby Adamson, Rob Massam and Jamie Dallimore, wbile Michael Platt and Gary Middlehurst are both expected to miss Sunday’s match against Batley Bulldogs.
Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths said: “John Kear doesn’t suffer fools lightly. He’ll have his men fired up, and you don’t have to be the brain of Britain to work that one out.
“They’ve lost two on the bounce and if they lose another one their nerves will start jangling, but we’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing and make sure we ask some questions.”
Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear is promising changes after his side’s 14-10 defeat against Rochdale Hornets last week, and could give a debut to loan signing Kyle Trout.
Kear said: “There was some woeful decision-making. We gifted the ball and field position to the opposition, and there’s got to be some changes. We’re going to have to shake things up one way or another.
“We need an element of composure in our play that we aren’t showing at the moment.”
Whitehaven v Barrow Raiders (3.00pm)
Whitehaven coach Dave Woods is set to be without talented teenager Ben Milburn for the rest of the season after scans showed cruciate ligament damage.
The news comes as another blow to Woods as he battles to secure Whitehaven’s second win of the Kingstone Press Championship season and move towards a place outside the relegation zone.
Chris Taylor (ankle) missed last week’s game against Halifax but could feature on Sunday when Bobbie Goulding takes charge of his first game as Barrow Raiders coach.
Goulding said: “We’ve got to start winning rugby league games, it’s as simple as that.
“We’ve got to stay in this division and I’ll be doing my utmost with the resources I’ve got to make sure we do that.”
The former France coach has not coached in the Kingstone Press Championship since leaving Rochdale Hornets in 2008, but has promised Barrow fans: “We’re going to have some fun.”