Kingstone Press Championship: Round 20 previews

Leigh return to league action on Sunday after Saturday's Challenge Cup quarter final defeat at Warrington
Leigh return to league action on Sunday after Saturday's Challenge Cup quarter final defeat at Warrington

A look ahead to this weekend’s action in the Kingstone Press Championship, including Leigh’s trip to Workington.

Kingstone Press Championship Round 20 previews

Sunday July 5

Workington Town v Leigh Centurions (3.00)

Phil Veivers, the Workington Town coach, wasn’t too disappointed with his side’s defeat at Sheffield Eagles last week: “I thought we competed with them for long periods of the game,” he said. “If you took 10 minutes out of it, we were the better side for long periods. Some of that comes down to not being clinical enough with the ball and not being disciplined enough when we haven’t got it.”

“We’ve had a pretty tough run, the last six games has been all about top five teams. If you take the Featherstone game out of it, I thought we’ve competed. We were average against Halifax and pretty good against Dewsbury. I thought we were unlucky not to come away with the two points. Against Bradford and Sheffield I thought we were well and truly in the game other than what I’d call a couple of brain malfunctions which cost us dearly.

“Everyone likes to test themselves and I don’t think we’ve lived up to our standards of last year, so it will be interesting to see if we can go at Leigh with the same standards we did have last year.”

Second row Kurt Horton is out with a knee injury.

Batley Bulldogs v Doncaster (3.00)

Batley Bulldogs may have been beaten by Bradford Bulls last week but coach John Kear could take away some positives. “I was really pleased performance-wise but again we’ve come away with nothing results-wise but that might be indicative of the standard of opposition that we played,” he said.

“We were in the game right down to when we were down to 12 men. There’s plenty of positives to take from it but also lessons to be learned as well.

“At some stage Doncaster are going to win a game and we’ve got to try and make sure it’s not when they play us. There’s the fear factor that at some stage they’ll get there. The challenge for our players is being as good when they play teams in and around us as when they’re playing the bigger teams.”

Gary Thornton, the Doncaster coach, was disappointed with the way his team started the game against Whitehaven: “We were very lethargic and came up with a lot of silly errors and got what we deserved,” he said. “In the second half we gave it a dig, but we’ve never really put in an 80-minute performance

“I saw Batley against Bradford. It was a scrappy game and there were a lot of errors but I thought Batley came out with a bit of credit.

“Mount Pleasant isn’t an easy place to go, so it’s not going to be easy. We’re pretty low on confidence but we’ve just got to go there and give it a shot.”

Scrum-half Richard Wilkinson has a knee problem and Danny Cowling is struggling with a dead leg but loose forward Brad Foster could return.

Featherstone Rovers v Dewsbury Rams (3.00)

Featherstone Rovers built on their win over Hunslet Hawks at the weekend with an impressive victory over Bradford Bulls on Wednesday. Coach Andy Hay said: “It was a good win for us. I think it probably came down to the enthusiasm we showed, which carries you through a lot of games. We were in a frame of mind where every player put their hand up and had a real good dig.

“I’m pleased for the players, they’ve had some stick from fans and outside sources and I thought we stood up against a very good side and got a great win.

“Hopefully Dewsbury will be a bit rusty; we’ll definitely be game-ready. It’s going to be tough, it’s always a close game when we play Dewsbury. We had a battle over at their place earlier in the year and last year. We got the wins both times but they made it very tough for us.

“Coming off the back of two games and trying to get the players’ feet back on the ground after Wednesday will be a task in itself. But we set our goal to be in the top four and Dewsbury are up next. We need to get a win.”

Scrum-half Gareth Moore, stand-off Paul Cooke and prop Matt James are all back in the squad.

Dewsbury Rams coach Glenn Morrison believes the week off will have done his side a lot of good: “I think we needed it,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of rugby of late with the couple of midweek games. It was probably a good time to freshen up and hopefully get back on track.

“Featherstone are coming good at the right time. Wednesday’s game will be a confidence booster for them but they’ve got to back up. I know they rested a few players, so it’s going to be a tough one but one that we really need to compete in if we want to finish anywhere near where we want to be at the end of the year.”

Centre Shane Grady could be available this week.

Halifax v Sheffield Eagles (3.00)

Halifax had a fine win over London Broncos last week. Coach Richard Marshall said: “We played well and were good for the majority of the game. We had a patch in the second half where we fell off and, credit to London, they pulled the game back and made it a bit of a contest.

“But in the first half we played pretty quick and got a fair lead at half-time. I wouldn’t say the game was done then but coming away from Keighley, who hosted us, it was another ‘away’ game that we won.

“We’re looking forward to playing back at The Shay this week. Sheffield have a formidable pack, so it will be a great contest with our pack. They’ve got (Kyle) Briggs in the halves and we’ve got Scott Murrell, there’s match-ups all over the park.

“It will be an interesting one and one that’s we’re looking forward to. The field is in perfect condition so it will suit both sides. Sheffield can play some football and have a good kicking game. We like to throw it around as well and it would be nice if our wingers got on the scoreboard again.”

Wing Tommy Saxton is a doubt with a groin injury.

Mark Aston, the Sheffield Eagles coach, said: “We weren’t great last week but we won, we’re winning ugly, which is the sign of a good team. Defensively, I thought we were good, particularly in the second half. We looked very very strong but again, with ball in hand, we’re not fluent and hitting our straps yet and we need to start.

“There’s been a bit of soul-searching this week and a bit of honesty. I’ve talked about individual responsibility and accountability to the group and had a good response so hopefully we can start getting a bit of rhythm and momentum in our offensive play. We need to because Halifax are on fire at the moment.”

Prop Mitch Stringer and wing Rob Worrincy are both available.

Hunslet Hawks v Bradford Bulls (3.00)

Barry Eaton, the Hunslet Hawks coach, took plenty of positives out of the loss to Featherstone Rovers: “We were good again last week without any reward,” he said. “We played some of the best stuff we’ve played all year.

“We had a slow start to the game but showed remarkable resilience to come back from 12-0 and 24-6 down. Certainly the second half performance was as good as we’ve been all year. We were outstanding offensively but maybe just that start they got in the first half proved the difference in the end.

“The short turnaround won’t affect Bradford because they are full –time. We certainly don’t expect that to be a problem for them. We’ll be ready for a backlash and for Bradford being at their best, they are potentially the best team in the competition. But we’re looking forward to it. It will be one of the biggest games Hunslet have staged over the last few years so we’re solely focusing on giving a good account of ourselves.”

Hunslet are still missing James Duckworth, Luke Briscoe, Liam Mackay and Callum Casey.

London Broncos v Whitehaven (3.00)

Reflecting on last week’s defeat at Halifax, London Broncos coach Andrew Henderson said: “It was disappointing in terms of the nature of the game and opposition we faced. Both teams were desperate for the result in terms of the top four.

“What disappointed me the most was the fact that we didn’t really compete in the game whatsoever. We were totally outplayed in every department and didn’t give a good account of ourselves, we just weren’t at the races.

“We’ve got to put some wrongs right this week. We’re back at home and it’s a great opportunity for the players to show they can respond in the right way. We’re hoping for a good performance and the result will take care of itself. I’m pretty confident we’ll see a reaction.”

New signing James Cunningham will be available but forward Elliot Minchella is rested after being concussed last week.

Whitehaven coach James Coyle said: “It was a good win last week, we’re starting to find a bit of form. They will be looking for a reaction after last week’s performance so we’ve got a tough contest at the weekend.

“We’re feeling good, we’ve got a lot of people hitting form at the right time and going into those last few games we were hoping to get points, which we have done. We targeted the six/seven games starting at the beginning of June. We said this was an important period for us and we’ve been building towards it and things are going well.

“We were unlucky at Sheffield not to get something out of the game and we don’t want to be looking back at this weekend and saying the same thing.”

Full-back Louis Jouffret is unavailable having had to fly back to France to sit exams.