Games are coming thick and fast for Leigh

Jonny Pownall scores for Leigh against Halifax on Wednesday. Photo: Brian King.
Jonny Pownall scores for Leigh against Halifax on Wednesday. Photo: Brian King.
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A look ahead to this weekend’s action in the Kingstone Press Championship including Leigh’s game against Barrow.

Leigh Centurions v Barrow Raiders (3.00pm)

Leigh Centurions coach Paul Rowley has hailed his side’s resilience as they prepare for a fourth grueling match in two weeks.

Centurions emerged 26-24 victors over Halifax on Wednesday, just five days after posing a huge challenge to Leeds Rhinos in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup.

Rowley said: “The resolve of our players is quite extraordinary. We took great pride out of Wednesday night, in that we’ve reached levels people may not have realised we can reach.”

On Sunday’s game against Barrow, Rowley added: “This is the true challenge. Barrow are the people that will truly benefit from this backlog of fixtures for us.

“Bobbie (Goulding) was at our game on Wednesday, and he’ll be looking forward to tasking his side with being the first to defeat us in the league.

“Our training is matches at the minute. We’re a very resilient bunch and nobody’s looking battered and bruised, they’re all bouncing around.”

Centurions will be without Sam Barlow, who was taken to hospital after Wednesday’s game with severe concussion.

Barrow coach Bobbie Goulding is aiming to steer his side to a shock victory seven days after they lost at home to Doncaster. New signing Ben Musolino, who played in Italy’s win over England last year, could feature.

Friday June 13

Swinton Lions v Rochdale Hornets (8.00pm)

Swinton Lions coach Ian Watson is aiming for back-to-back wins after last week’s morale-boosting 42-24 victory over North Wales Crusaders.

The Lions remain nine points behind ninth-placed Batley Bulldogs, but could narrow that gap by beating Rochdale Hornets on Friday.

However, Hornets look set to be boosted by the return of Tony Suffolk and Alex McClurg, although Gareth Langley and Mike Ratu are still ruled out.

Hornets coach Ian Talbot said: “This is a massive game for us, given the disappointment of finding ourselves at the bottom of the table.

“I’m not really a believer in classing games as must-win, but this one is massive if we’ve any ambition of getting off the bottom and then trying to climb up to ninth place.

“For 60 minutes we were good against Batley last week, but in the other 20 minutes we conceded five tries and that’s the game gone. We can’t afford to repeat those mistakes this week.”

Talbot has been dealt a further blow with confirmation that Sean Casey has suffered a broken jaw, despite an initial diagnosis of dislocation. Casey will see a specialist on Thursday about a possible reconstruction.

Sunday June 15

North Wales Crusaders v Whitehaven (2.30pm)

North Wales Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths admits Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Whitehaven is now a “must win” fixture in the club’s battle to avoid relegation.

Griffiths said: “It’s a must win for all sorts of reasons, including the fact that we’ve let ourselves down badly in our last two games.

“Our completion rate on Sunday (against Swinton) was abysmal, and when you do that you’re asking for trouble.

“The buck stops at my desk and I take full responsibility for the loss, but I also ask the players to look long and hard at themselves.

“It’s going to take one good performance, like we had in Whitehaven, and that gives the opposition something to think about. We can win on Sunday because we know the ability we’ve got.”

Andy Moulsdale is unavailable for Crusaders but Grant Gore should feature, while Whitehaven coach Dave Woods could name an unchanged team.

Woods said: “We want to go there and take the three points – that’s the plan.

“They seem to be a lot better away from home, so hopefully we can take advantage of that.

“They flogged us when they played us at our place, and we’ll probably mention that we owe a decent performance for ourselves and our fans because of the way we played last time.”

Dewsbury Rams v Sheffield Eagles (3.00pm)

Dewsbury Rams coach Glenn Morrison is aiming to halt a string of defeats against Sheffield Eagles when the two sides meet in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship fixture.

Morrison said: “We played them four times last year and they got us each time, and then they got us again earlier this year. We need to get some points off them now.

“We’ve got Sheffield and Doncaster in our next two games, and if we can win them both it puts us right up there at the top end of the table. It’s an important fortnight for us.”

Wayne Godwin is ruled out for the season but Rob Spicer is closing in on a return to action.

On Sheffield, Morrison added: “They’ve got quality right across the park and some real strike weapons. They’re going to be tough opponents, but we’re trying to change that history of the last 18 months.”

Eagles prop Tom Lillycrop (shoulder) looks set to be assessed before Mark Aston names his squad. Lillycrop missed last week’s victory over Workington Town.

Featherstone Rovers v Doncaster (3.00pm)

Featherstone Rovers look set to give a debut to loan signing Harry Siejka after landing the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats half-back on a month-long deal.

However, coach Andy Hay is definitely without Gareth Moore, Tim Spears and Greg Worthington, while Steve Crossley and Matt James are also expected to miss out in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash against Doncaster.

Victory for Rovers would maintain the pressure on league leaders Leigh Centurions, but Doncaster could pull level with Featherstone if the result goes their way.

Doncaster coach Paul Cooke said: “We’re looking forward to the challenge, as difficult as it’s going to be with all their new signings.

“There are some really big challenges in front of us, but we’ll be prepared as best we can be.

“We understand their structures and what’s changed for them, and we’ll certainly do our best, without expectations from anyone outside the group for us to win.”

Mike Kelly and Shaun Leaf are both in contention for Doncaster, but Lee Waterman is still a fortnight away from action.

Halifax v Workington Town (3.00pm)

Halifax coach Karl Harrison is set to check on the fitness of his squad after Wednesday’s bruising 26-24 defeat against Leigh Centurions.

Harrison is also expected to check on Scott Murrell and Ben Kaye, who both missed Wednesday’s match, before finalising his team to face Workington Town.

Halifax are in danger of losing touch with the top three, but victory over Workington would maintain their chances of catching either Featherstone Rovers or Doncaster in the league table.

Workington coach Phil Veivers watched his side lose 37-30 against Sheffield Eagles last week.

Veivers said: “We’re getting ourselves in to the frame; we’re probably on the entrance to the winner’s circle, but they just can’t step across that line and that is the really frustrating thing.”

Town are without Liam McAvoy, who starts a three-match suspension after being found guilty of a grade C high tackle against Leigh Centurions.

Keighley Cougars v Batley Bulldogs (3.00pm)

Keighley Cougars coach Paul March will pick the freshest team possible to face Batley Bulldogs in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash at Cougar Park.

The Cougars are facing their third match in 10 days, having travelled to Widnes and Whitehaven in their previous two outings.

March said: “Everybody’s fit to play, but the team will depend on how much game-time people have had over the last couple of weeks.”

He added: “We want to get back into a winning mentality. In the last two league games we’ve been there or thereabouts, but at crucial points we weren’t smart enough. We were in front with seven minutes to go against Whitehaven on Tuesday and self-destructed.

“We’ve been in that winning mentality before, and to perform how we have done in our last two league games is frustrating because we know we can do so much better.”

On Batley, March said: “We let ourselves down at their place. We were 12-0 up and ended up losing, and they’re a team that enjoys playing Keighley.

“John Kear will have them fired up, and they’ve had a couple of good wins over the last few weeks.”

Bulldogs coach Kear is hoping for an improvement in his side’s defence after they conceded 28 points against Rochdale last week.

Kear said: “The attacking play is what the fans want to see, but I’d much rather have a bit of good defensive play as well.”