As Leigh Centurions go to Doncaster, we look ahead to the rest of the weekend’s action in the Kingstone Press Championships.
Kingstone Press Championship
Sheffield Eagles v North Wales Crusaders (2.00pm)
Kyle Briggs looks set to be given an immediate Sheffield Eagles debut after signing a two-and-a-half year deal with the South Yorkshire club.
Briggs, who has just spent a month on loan at Dewsbury Rams, completed his switch from Featherstone Rovers earlier this week.
Eagles coach Mark Aston said: “He’s a quality individual who brings a wealth of experience, class and a great attitude to the team.”
But Sunday’s opponents North Wales Crusaders also look set to receive a boost, with coach Anthony Murray hopeful that Mick Govin will be fit to return to action after a recent thigh strain.
Murray said: “Featherstone had Jarrod Sammut making their debut against us, and now Sheffield have got Kyle Briggs. He’s another dangerous player, and one we’ll have to meet the challenge of containing.
“You can never write Sheffield off. They’ve an experienced coach, they gave Leigh a good run last week, and they’ll be looking at this as a possible three points because mathematically they’re still not safe yet.”
Batley Bulldogs v Halifax (3.00pm)
Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear believes last week’s defeat against Workington Town will stand his squad in good stead ahead of a difficult month’s fixtures.
Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash against Halifax starts a run of games that also sees Batley face Featherstone Rovers, Sheffield Eagles and Leigh Centurions.
Kear said: “We played well in patches against Workington, but we looked like a team who’d had a couple of easy wins and we weren’t used to being in a battle and having to grind a result out.
“That test, and that difficult game, will stand us in good stead this week.”
Kear has been dealt a major blow with Miles Greenwood being ruled out for four to six weeks with a broken thumb, while Alex Bretherton is also doubtful for Sunday’s match.
On Halifax, Kear added: “I’m really impressed with them. They’ve copped a lot of criticism at various times in the season, but they’ve stuck to what they believed in and they’re not far behind big spending teams.”
Halifax’s Simon Brown will be checked. He missed last week’s win over Keighley Cougars with a thumb injury, while Danny Cowling, Ben Heaton and Gareth Potts are all pushing for inclusion to face Batley.
However, coach Karl Harrison could be reluctant to change a winning team, having watched his side secure successive victories over Workington Town, Rochdale Hornets, Sheffield Eagles and Keighley in the last four weeks.
Keighley Cougars v Workington Town (3.00pm)
Keighley Cougars player-coach Paul March is set to make his return to first-team action on Sunday, just three days after playing for the first time in two months.
March, who was banned for two months after verbally abusing a match official, will play in Keighley’s U20s fixture against Halifax on Thursday night.
He said: “Thursday’s a good opportunity to get a bit of game-time under my belt, and I can’t wait to get back out there on Sunday.
“Danny Jones is a bit of a concern with a hamstring problem, so it’s ideal timing for me to come back in and give Danny another week to recover.”
March added: “Workington had a fantastic win against Batley last week that kept their hopes alive, but we see this as a six-pointer.
“If we win we open up a big gap, so it’s a big game for both clubs. It’ll be a physical battle – they’re a big side that challenge you in certain areas – and we need to stand up to that.”
Workington Town travel without loan signing Declan Hulme, who serves a one-match suspension, but confidence is high in Phil Veivers’ team.
Town have won their last three fixtures, beating Featherstone Rovers and Swinton Lions before last week’s triumph over Batley.
But Veivers said: “Those matches count for nothing now and all I’m concentrating on is the next game on the fixture list.”
Rochdale Hornets v Barrow Raiders (3.00pm)
Rochdale Hornets coach Ian Talbot says there is “a buzz in the camp” after last week’s win over Featherstone Rovers.
Now Talbot wants to maintain the momentum by securing a win over Barrow Raiders on Sunday.
Talbot said: “I doubted the result with five minutes to go, but massive credit needs to go to our lads – they reacted positively and got themselves back in front when it mattered most.
“This game against Barrow is massive for both teams, and I’m sure it’ll be one Bobbie (Goulding) has marked down as ‘must win’.
“If we can get a good result and put ourselves five points clear of them, that’s great, but I’m looking at getting three points closer to Swinton rather than three away from the bottom.”
Stuart Littler and Dave Llewellyn will both be checked before Sunday’s game, but Tony Suffolk is available for the hosts.
Raiders coach Bobbie Goulding hopes to have Liam Campbell available, while Ben Karalius and Bradley Goulding are also expected to be pushing for places.
Coach Goulding is hoping for a big improvement on last week’s defeat against Whitehaven.
He said: “We just don’t know how to win football games. We just do not have the experience, the nous, or the intelligence.”
Swinton Lions v Featherstone Rovers (3.00pm)
Swinton Lions forward Luke Menzies (shoulder) will be assessed before Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship fixture against Featherstone Rovers.
But John Duffy’s side could be boosted by the inclusion of Martin Ainscough, who rejoined Swinton earlier this week.
Duffy said: “We’re really pleased to have Martin back at the club. He’s a very talented player, and just what we need at this time.
“He’s trained with the squad and looked very sharp, and we’ll look at him again before Sunday’s big match.”
Ben Blackmore and Kyle Trout are both doubts for Featherstone, as they look to bounce back from last week’s shock defeat against Rochdale Hornets.
Rovers coach Andy Hay said: “We didn’t do ourselves any favours and our discipline wasn’t good again. You can’t give teams a start, but that’s what we seem to be doing.
“We’ve got to fix up a lot of things. We’ve got no excuses – some of the players who played (last week) didn’t do themselves justice.”
Whitehaven v Dewsbury Rams (3.00pm)
Buoyant Whitehaven coach Dave Woods has set his sights on another Kingstone Press Championship victory after last week’s win over Barrow Raiders.
Woods said: “We’ll definitely be looking for another three points at home to Dewsbury.
“I hope we can get plenty of fans down (because) it’s going to be another good day. We’ll put in a big stint and take it week by week.”
Dewsbury coach Glenn Morrison is waiting to hear on news about Ben Hellewell, who dislocated his finger in last week’s win over Swinton Lions.
Morrison said: “In the first half we were probably a little bit down on what we needed to be, but we worked hard for each other, spoke at half time about upping our intensity and kicking on, and we did that well after the break.
“We’ve now got through a tough period, but we’ve got to make sure we take every game as a big one.”
He added: “Whitehaven have been playing some good footy. They’ve some quality players and they’re getting good results of late.
“They’re saying in the press that they want to kick on, so we’ve got to be ready for everything they can throw at us come Sunday afternoon.”