Kingstone Press Championship


Sunday August 18

Barrow Raiders v Workington Town (3.00pm)


Raiders trio Liam Harrison, Kurt Haggerty and Danny Jones are expected to battle through injury concerns to face Workington Town on Sunday, while Dan Toal could also come back into contention for Barrow.


Workington coach Gary Charlton faces an injury crisis after a bruising midweek win over Keighley Cougars.


Charlton said: “It was a good win, but it’s come at a cost.


“We’re low on numbers and we’ve taken three or four injuries. Kris Coward has done his knee and Karl Olstrum has hurt his shoulder. We’re patched up at present.”


He added: “It’s a derby game, which our boys always enjoy, and it’s going to be tough. They’re fighting for everything and we’re still trying to fight for a top eight position.


“They’re a decent team and they take some beating when they’re at home.


“We’re a bit battered and bruised, but when your back is against the wall you find out what type of player you are. We’ll find out a lot about ourselves over the next couple of weeks.”


Dewsbury Rams v Sheffield Eagles (3.00pm)


Dewsbury Rams pair Makali Aizue (elbow) and Josh Tonks (teeth) are both doubtful for Sunday’s clash with Kingstone Press Championship leaders Sheffield Eagles.


The duo suffered injuries in last week’s 52-18 defeat at Featherstone Rovers and coach Glenn Morrison is unlikely to risk either unless they are 100 per cent fit.


Morrison said: “We came up with too many errors last week and never gave ourselves a chance.


“We’ve now got three tough games, and we need to be picking up wins if we want a play-off place.”


Hooker Andrew Henderson (knee) is the Eagles’ major doubt after suffering a knock against Leigh Centurions last week.


Sheffield coach Mark Aston knows four more wins will secure his side the League Leaders’ Shield.


Aston said: “We’ve four games in two weeks coming up, but we’ve shown we can keep going.”


Doncaster v Swinton Lions (3.00pm)


In-form Doncaster are aiming for a sixth successive match without defeat as they try to secure a top-eight finish in the Kingstone Press Championship.


Tony Miller’s side drew 28-28 at Halifax last week after winning their four previous fixtures.


Miller said: “Every time we had the ball we looked dangerous. We’ve built our team on spirit and commitment.”


Lions coach Gary Chambers could name an unchanged side as he looks to build on the momentum gained from two wins and a bonus point in Swinton’s last three games.


Cambers said: “We’re in a bit of a purple patch now and we’re enjoying it. There’s no pressure on. We’ll just keep going.


“I don’t know how many points you’ll need to stay up this year, but what I do know is that we’re in charge of our own destiny, which we probably weren’t two or three weeks ago. We can’t worry about anyone else.”


On Doncaster, he added: “They’re playing well. I’ve watched them a couple of times this year and I’ve a lot of time for them.


“They’ve got good players across the field and they’re a tough team to beat.”


Halifax v Batley Bulldogs (3.00pm)


Halifax coach Karl Harrison insists his side will “bounce back” against Batley Bulldogs after a run that has seen them win only one of their last five games.


Halifax’s latest frustration – a 28-28 draw against Doncaster – came after Harrison’s men threw away a 28-6 lead.


Harrison said: “We weren’t great for the last 20 minutes, but for the first 60 minutes we were extremely good.


“I’m still confident. We’ve got a really good football team here. We’ve been kicked hard, but I’m sure we can bounce back.”


Johnny Campbell (dead leg) is a major doubt for Batley, who face two games in four days. Greg Johnson could come into contention.


Bulldogs coach John Kear said: “There should be a lot of people interested in this game and a lot of people wanting to watch it.


“Halifax aren’t playing as bad as black and white results indicate. We know we’ll have to take our A game to The Shay.”


Keighley Cougars v Featherstone Rovers (3.00pm)


Cougars coach Paul March could include Paul White and Elliot Cosgrove after the pair missed out on places in Keighley’s team that lost at Workington Town on Wednesday.


Keighley are four points off a play-off spot with only three games remaining, but March remains optimistic.


However, he is quick to acknowledge the size of Sunday’s task when they host  second-placed Featherstone Rovers.


March said: “It’s a massive challenge. We want to be consistent and we’ve had a rollercoaster season because we haven’t been consistent.


“Having said that, Featherstone have had some ups and downs and a couple of shock defeats against York and Swinton, so we’ll be confident we can get a result if we get our performance right.”


Featherstone football manager Sean Long has urged his side to be more clinical, despite Rovers racking up a 52-18 win over Dewsbury Rams in their last outing.


Long said: “Scoring 50 points is really good, but there are still improvements in the side. We bombed three or four tries in the second half.”


Leigh Centurions v Whitehaven (3.00pm)


Leigh Centurions coach Paul Rowley is set to be boosted by Simon Finnigan’s return to action, but Ryan Brierley, Matt Gardner and Michael Ostick are set to miss out after suffering injuries against Sheffield Eagles.


Leigh lost 20-8 against the Eagles, but Rowley remains upbeat. He said: “We were close last week, but we didn’t play well. Combining those two things together give us a lot of confidence for when we do play well.”


He added: “Dave Woods has just signed a new contract at Whitehaven, so it’s been a positive week for them and they’ll want a positive end to the week after what was a poor result by their standards.


“Every club has a blip, and we’re treating their result against Keighley as a blip.”


Whitehaven coach Dave Woods expects to have the same team available that lost 52-18 against the Cougars.


Woods said: “We’ve got to forget about that result. We’ve got to play for some pride and play for each other and the club this week.


“We need to go to Leigh, have a dig and put in a performance. We were very, very poor last week and we didn’t help ourselves at all.”


York City Knights v Hunslet Hawks (3.00pm)


Kris Brining and Sam Latus are both available for York City Knights coach Gary Thornton, who says his squad is “pretty much at full strength” ahead of Sunday’s relegation showdown with Hunslet.


The Knights are two points adrift at the bottom of the table. Thornton said: “There’s a lot of pressure on both teams.


“We’re at the foot of the table and there’s bound to be added pressure with that. We’ve got to get a win under our belt.


“We’ve gone seven without a win, but if we get one it will turn us around. We’ve been pretty close and we’ve not been playing particularly badly.


“We’ve just got to go in with no fear and just play. We’re a better team when we just play.”


On Hunslet, he said: “Their tails will be up. They went 13 games without a win, so they’ll be buoyed by their victory last week, but I don’t want to worry too much about the opposition anymore. We’ve got to focus on ourselves.”


Hunslet coach Barry Eaton expects to have James Davies available, while Micheal Haley has an outside chance of playing.


Kingstone Press Championship One


North Wales Crusaders v Oxford (2.30pm)


Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths insists focus is the key to North Wales winning Kingstone Press Championship One.


The Crusaders are four points behind Oldham with two games in hand on Scott Naylor’s side.


Griffiths said: “It’s in our hands, but we can’t go jumping up and down as we’ve got to win our next three games. We’ve just got to go out and do it.”


Crusaders are without Stuart Reardon (Achilles) for the rest of the season, while Oxford coach Tony Benson has a fully fit squad to pick from.


Benson said: “Facing the Crusaders is a massive challenge. We’ve got to pick up at least a point in our next two games to get in the play-offs.


“Leading into the play-offs, if we do play well then everything will look after itself from there. Our challenge is to play as well as we know we can.”


Hemel Stags v London Skolars (3.00pm)


Hemel pair Shane Grady (ankle) and Chad Sharp (elbow) are both missing for the next couple of weeks as the Stags attempt to secure a top four finish.


Stags coach Troy Perkins said: “There’s a few others we’ll have to have a look at as well. If anyone is not 100 per cent, we won’t risk them. We’ve some important games coming up.”


He added: “All the pressure is on London. They’ve spent big to try to get promoted, so they’ll feel they need to be in the top three to give themselves a chance.


“We’re happy to have qualified for the play-offs, and whether that’s in fourth or fifth we can be happy with how our season is going, although we’ve still got plenty of improvement in us from last week’s game against Crusaders.”


London Skolars could be unchanged from the side that beat South Wales Scorpions 30-28 last Sunday.


London coach Joe Mbu said: “Hemel have got a tight pitch and that means it’s a real battle in the middle, but if we can get over that then hopefully we’ll give ourselves a chance.”


Gloucestershire All Golds v Gateshead Thunder (3.00pm)


Mike Stewart could come into contention for the Gloucestershire All Golds if he recovers from a recent hamstring problem, while Gateshead Thunder coach Kevin Neighbour reported a clean bill of health from last week’s narrow defeat against Rochdale Hornets.


Neighbour said: “This is two form teams who are playing really well – it should be a great match.


“Both teams are very, very different since we last played each other. They’ll be looking for the win at home and to not finish bottom, while we’re in control of ourselves.


“If we win our next two then we’ll push the gap open and earn a big ‘well done’ for the way we’ve finished the season.


“If we do things a little better than last week then we’ll certainly have a good chance.


“We’ve built up a fair bit of character over the last seven games or so. We were pretty desperate in defence against Rochdale and that showed a great attitude.”



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