Centurions at full strength for visit of Whitehaven

There's a busy weekend of Kingstone Press Championship rugby league action coming up
There's a busy weekend of Kingstone Press Championship rugby league action coming up
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A look ahead to this weekend’s games in the Kingstone Press Championship

Leigh Centurions v Whitehaven (3.00pm)

Leigh Centurions coach Paul Rowley will select from a fully fit squad for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship match against Whitehaven.

The Centurions are bidding for a third successive victory at the start of the season, having scored more than 50 points against both Batley Bulldogs and Barrow Raiders in their first two fixtures.

Rowley said: “We’re doing all right, but we want to work hard and get better. There are some areas we’re doing well, but there are others that we need to improve on.

“We’ll have absolutely no complacency this week. We’re not jumping over hoops about our performance against Barrow, and the players readily accept that and want to work hard to get better.”

Whitehaven coach Dave Woods is also selecting from strength after last week’s game against North Wales Crusaders was postponed.

Woods said: “We’ve had one game in four weeks, which isn’t ideal, but we need to not worry about that and just control what we can control.

“Leigh have had a very good start and they’ve lots of try-scoring power in their armoury. We need to get down there and disrupt them.

“If we can work really hard in the first 20 minutes and stay in the battle then that puts a little bit of pressure back on them.”

Doncaster v Dewsbury Rams (3.00pm)

Doncaster coach Paul Cooke remains without injured pair Brett Waller and Lee Waterman, while Russ Spiers serves a one-match ban this week, ruling him out of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Dewsbury Rams.

Both sides are unbeaten heading into their round three fixture, leaving Cooke to praise Dewsbury’s approach.

Cooke said: “Dewsbury have had a top start. I like the way they play and they’ve made some very good signings for this season. They’re a difficult team to beat and are very well coached by Glenn Morrison.”

But the former Hull FC and Hull KR star believes Doncaster’s strength is in their defence.

“That side of the game has been very pleasing for us,” he said. “If we can keep teams to 12 points in a game then that gives us every opportunity to win.”

Rams coach Glenn Morrison has no new injury concerns following his side’s triumph over Rochdale Hornets, but has warned his players they must improve if they are to maintain their perfect record.

Morrison said: “Doncaster are going to be one of the top sides this year. They’ll be determined to maintain their record and if we play like we did last week, we won’t get away with it.”

Halifax v Batley Bulldogs (3.00pm)

Halifax coach Karl Harrison is without Rob Worrincy (quad) ahead of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship fixture with Batley Bulldogs.

Harrison faces his former club with the prospect of inflicting their second defeat in the first three games of the new season.

But both teams have won one and lost one of their first two fixtures, with Halifax falling to defeat at Featherstone Rovers last week.

Harrison said: “We need to be a little bit more patient. We don’t have to score every time we get the ball.”

He added: “We are one of the bigger clubs in the competition and we want to be in the top two at the end of the season. We’re a good team, but Batley are a good team too.”

Batley’s Ben Black remains sidelined following a knee operation, but coach John Kear believes his side can now kick on following last week’s 36-16 victory over Workington Town.

Kear said: “It will give the lads a bit of confidence.”

North Wales Crusaders v Featherstone Rovers (2.30pm)

Gary Middlehurst (knee) and Rob Massam (ankle) are both doubtful for North Wales Crusaders, but coach Clive Griffiths is keeping his fingers crossed.

Griffiths said: “Gary’s got more chance than Rob, but we’ll know more later in the week.”

He added: “We go into this home game as firm underdogs, and when can we have said that over the last 12 months? I went to watch Featherstone Rovers last Sunday and was very impressed with their directness, structure and organization.

“We’ll have to play to our very best to get a result. It’s in us, they’re not totally infallible, but they’re well versed in this division and they’re not up there at the top by chance. They’re a damn good side.”

Featherstone Rovers coach John Bastian has no new injury concerns after last week’s win over Halifax.

Bastian said: “Credit to our guys: we stuck in there and showed some real character, grit and determination.

“I’ve looked at Crusaders this week and we can see that they’re going to be a very competitive side.”

Sheffield Eagles v Barrow Raiders (2.00pm)

Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston insists they will get better ahead of their return to the Owlerton Stadium for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Barrow Raiders.

The Eagles won 30-16 against Swinton Lions last week, but Aston believes there is still more to come from a Sheffield side preparing for its first home game of the season.

Aston said: “We’re not fully cooked yet. Our timing’s off, there’s no rhythm and no momentum with us, but we can build on that win. It will take us a few weeks to get to where we want to be.”

He added: “It’s the first game back at Owlerton. We’ve got to take things one game at a time, but we just need to improve.

“It’s a different challenge for us. The pitch at Owlerton is a little bit smaller, but we’ve just got to adapt to it and get on with it.”

Aaron Lloyd (broken hand) is still missing for Barrow, but Chris Rowe is closing in on a return to action and Dan Toal (dead leg) will also be assessed before Anthony Murray picks his team to face Sheffield.

Rochdale Hornets v Keighley Cougars (3.00pm)

Danny Davies (shoulder) faces a late fitness test before Rochdale Hornets coach Ian Talbot is able to confirm his team to face Keighley Cougars.

Hornets lost 42-12 against Dewsbury Rams last week, but Talbot believes his team is not far from the levels required in the Kingstone Press Championship.

Talbot said: “The scoreline was a big disappointment because I think we matched them for large parts and at times were probably the better team.

“We know that if we give it our best shot week after week, and put that level of performance in, we’ll pick up some points.”

On Keighley, he added: “Paul March is very influential figure for them. He’s a very smart player and he’s one to watch and one to stop.”

Cougars coach Paul March will demand a much-improved performance from Keighley after last week’s defeat at Doncaster.

March said: “We let ourselves down and I let the team down too.

“We didn’t stick to the game plan. The bottom line is we came away with nothing and that’s what’s disappointing.

“We’ll go to Rochdale and fight for a win, not go there just expecting a win.”

Workington Town v Swinton Lions (3.00pm)

Workington Town caretaker coach Craig Barker is hoping to build on last week’s first half display against Batley Bulldogs.

Town led 10-6 at half time thanks to tries from Jason Mossop and Brett Carter, but ultimately fell to a 36-16 defeat.

However, Barker believes the signs are there that Workington can progress again in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship fixture against Swinton Lions.

Barker said: “I thought we did very well in the first half.

“We could have just done with a few more points on the board when we had been playing well.”

Swinton coach Ian Watson will wait until finalising the team that will play on Sunday.

Darren Hawkyard is struggling with a knock sustained against Sheffield Eagles last week, but will be given as long as possible to prove his fitness for the trip north.

Lions assistant coach Marlon Billy said: “It’s always hard up there, but I’m confident we can get something from the game.”