Kingstone Press Championships previews

Sunday June 9

Kingstone Press Championship

York City Knights v Keighley Cougars (3.00pm)

James Ford continues to be ruled out for York City Knights, while coach Gary Thornton expects to make just one change from last week’s winning side.

The Knights won 42-10 against Doncaster, but Luke Stenchion (suspended) is unavailable this week.

Sam Scott (knee) missed training on Tuesday, but Thornton is hopeful he will be fit to take part on Sunday.

Thornton said: “We were excellent last week compared to how we’ve been previously, and now we’ve got to kick on.

“We’ve got another really important game against Keighley, a team near us on the table, and we’re looking to back up last week’s effort.”

Keighley Cougars coach Paul March expects to name an unchanged side after last week’s 28-20 win over Workington.

March said: “Our game management was good in the first half, and then we closed them out well in the last 15 minutes.

“That will give us some confidence, but so too does having our best 17 on the park for the first time this year.

“We’ll go into this game against York unchanged, and I probably haven’t said that all season.

“York had a strong win last week and they’ve beaten Featherstone at home as well. It’ll be battle, but hopefully one we can overcome.”

Dewsbury Rams v Barrow Raiders (3.00pm)

Aaron Brown faces a late fitness test before Glenn Morrison finalises his Dewsbury Rams squad for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Barrow Raiders.

However, Tommy Gallagher will definitely be missing after suffering a calf injury, leaving Morrison concerned by the number of fit players he has available.

Morrison said: “Hopefully we’ll have 17 fit blokes for Sunday, but it will be our last 17 if we do.”

He added: “It’s going to be a tough match and it’s a must-win game for us.

“We had that backs-against-the-wall mentality at Batley, when we had nine players missing and just digging in for each other.

“We were constantly on our own line, but the spirit among the guys is definitely there and we’ve just got to hang on until we get some bodies back.”

Raiders have their own injury problems to deal with, having been down to their last 19 players for last week’s match against Sheffield Eagles.

However, coach Darren Holt insists he will not be coming out of retirement. He said: It’s a different level of rugby and going forward, in the long-term, it’s not the solution – so it won’t be happening.

Featherstone Rovers v Doncaster (3.00pm)

Interim Featherstone Rovers coach Ryan Sheridan looks set to check on Jon Hepworth (hand) ahead of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Doncaster.

But Sheridan will definitely be without Ben Helliwell (wrist) as he aims to plot a win that could take Rovers to the top of the league table.

Doncaster coach Tony Miller is keeping his fingers crossed that loose forward Grant Edwards will be passed fit to play on Sunday after a recent neck problem.

The Dons are in 11thplace, but are only two points off a top-eight position.

Miller said: “The main thing for us this year was always to consolidate in this division, and then if we can sneak into the player-offs that will be a big bonus.

“A couple of wins in a row can move you four or five places up.”

Hunslet Hawks v Halifax (3.00pm)

Hunslet Hawks player Luke Helliwell faces “a number of weeks” on the sidelines after tearing his hamstring, while Danny Grimshaw (ankle) and Scott Watson are also ruled out of Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship showdown with Halifax.

Hawks coach Barry Eaton said: “We’re playing against good sides week in, week out, and Halifax are one of the very best.

“Ryan Fieldhouse has a great kick return and their two wingers are as quick as anybody. They’ve threats across the park.”

The Hawks are just two points of a top-eight spot, with four wins and five bonus points from their 15 league fixtures this year.

Eaton added: “If we were to sneak in the play-offs it’d be a massive, massive achievement because we’re probably still one of the lowest financed teams in the whole game.

“We’re working hard for each other and we’re still in the hunt. If we can turn the close losses into wins then we’re in with a shout.”

Halifax coach Karl Harrison is likely to keep faith with Rob Worrincy after the London-born winger scored five tries in last week’s win at Swinton Lions. Lee Paterson and Rikki Sheriffe missed out last week due to Worrincy’s inclusion.

Luke Adamson and Adam Robinson are still a couple of weeks away from a return to action.

Sheffield Eagles v Whitehaven (3.00pm)

Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston has warned his players they cannot afford to be dragged away from their own game-plan after securing a narrow 20-18 win at Barrow Raiders.

Sheffield search for their 14thwin in 16 games when they host Whitehaven on Sunday, but Aston is aware of the dangers.

Aston said: “When you’re top of the league you’re a target and teams raise their game.”

Whitehaven coach Dave Woods has doubts over Jamie Rooney (hamstring) and Chris Fleming (hamstring).

Carl Sice and Craig Calvert are both missing due to personal commitments, but Woods is confident his side can still cause an upset.

Woods said: “We know what quality Sheffield have got and that we’ll need a big effort this week.

“We beat them in the first round at home and had a game-plan that we thought worked. Hopefully we can get out there, get in their faces and keep some pressure on their main men.”

Swinton Lions v Batley Bulldogs (3.00pm)

Swinton Lions coach Gary Chambers could give a debut to prop forward Samir Tahraoui as Swinton look to bounce back from last week’s 76-18 mauling by Halifax.

Chambers said: “Samir has a very good pedigree. He’s a big, athletic lad and a very solid player.

“We need some big fellas and he’ll come in and do a really good job in the front row.”

Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear is hoping for more from his team, despite a run of three successive wins.

He said: “It’s frustrating and pleasing at the same time. I don’t think we’ve played well in the last three games, but we’ve won them.

“Getting those wins is the pleasing part, but the frustrating part is that there’s so much more in the locker.

“If we can get things right and unleash that potential at the right time of the year, we’ll be in with a great chance.”

Alex Bretherton (dead leg) is ruled out of Sunday’s game, but Miles Greenwood could return to action.

Workington Town v Leigh Centurions (3.00pm)

Workington Town duo Kris Coward and Jason Mossop could both return to action in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship fixture with Leigh Centurions.

Town coach Gary Charlton is also hoping Brett Phillips and Jamie Acton can return in the near future.

Charlton is demanding a major improvement after his men lost 28-20 at Keighley last week.

He said: “We were very poor in the first half and that’s something we need to put right.

“To me, it was probably a bit of complacency among the players and maybe a bit of disrespect. We got what we deserved.”

He added: “The players all understand that that performance wasn’t up to the standards expected.

“We’ll need to be a lot better this week. Leigh are a good team, they play some good rugby if you let them, and they can put a lot of points on you. We’ve got to start right.”

Fifth-placed Leigh are four points adrift of the top four after last week’s home defeat against Featherstone Rovers.

Centurions coach Paul Rowley said: “Workington are a very good team and we’ve got to be ready to face that challenge.”

Kingstone Press Championship One

Gateshead Thunder v London Skolars (2.00pm)

Improving Gateshead Thunder are aiming to collect their second Kingstone Press Championship One victory of the season when they host London Skolars on Sunday.

Thunder collected a bonus point after their narrow defeat at Oxford last week, while Chris Heil, Danny Nicklas and Aaron Ollett all earned selection in the Premier Sports team of the week.

Gateshead coach Kevin Neighbour said: “For periods of the game we were pretty dominant, but we switched off at the wrong times and we weren’t composed enough to get over the line.

“However, there were lots for us to take from it. I was pretty happy with how we went and I’d have taken a bonus point at the start, but then there’s the frustration of having seen that we could have won the game if we’d been a bit smarter.”

Nicklas is available again this week, while Neighbour reported no fresh injury concerns ahead of Sunday’s clash.

Skolars coach Joe Mbu is boosted by the news that James Anthony has avoided a suspension after submitting an Early Guilty Plea on a grade A charge of punching.

North Wales Crusaders v Oldham (2.30pm)

North Wales Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths looks set to assess Jonny Walker and Christiaan Roets before finalising his squad to take on Oldham in Sunday’s top of the table clash.

North Wales have won all six of their league fixtures this term, and have built up both the best attacking and defensive records in the competition.

But Oldham coach Scott Naylor insists his side have every chance when they travel to Wrexham.

The Roughyeds have won four of their last five games and are currently third in the Kingstone Press Championship One table, four points behind Crusaders.

Naylor said: “The boys are really looking forward to this one.

“They were bitterly disappointed with their own performances last time we went over there in the Northern Rail Cup and they are determined to do themselves justice this time.

“They want to be the best they can be, and then see where it takes them.”

Gloucestershire All Golds v South Wales Scorpions (3.00pm)

Gloucestershire All Golds coach Brad Hepi wants smarter play from his side – but admits he could not fault their effort in last week’s defeat against North Wales Crusaders.

Hepi said: “We played from the first whistle to the last, and in patches we showed what we’re capable of, but when you sit down and analyse it we played some really dumb football.”

The All Golds are still searching for their first Kingstone Press Championship One win of the season.

South Wales Scorpions travel to Cheltenham without Courtney Davies, but Kristian Hawkes is expected to feature after a recent ankle injury and loan signing Grant Gore should make his debut.

Scorpions coach Dave Clark said: “We’ve got the second worse defensive record in the competition and that’s something we’ve got to concentrate on.

“If we give the All Golds field position they’ll ask questions of us. We’ve got to be smart.”

However, Clark believes his side are heading in the right direction.

He said: “We’re in a better position than last year. We only won four games last year, and we’ve got three from six so far this time around.”

Oxford v Rochdale Hornets (3.00pm)

Brett Robinson serves a one-match ban for Oxford, while Shaun Robinson (leg), Martin Roden (hamstring) and Danny Halliwell (bicep) all face fitness tests.

Alex Thompson (ankle) and Chris Clarke (ankle) are both still sidelined.

Oxford coach Tony Benson has called for his team to be more ruthless, despite collecting their fourth league win of the season last week.

Benson said: “We played pretty well, but there were a couple of errors at crucial times that made a difference and we got punished for them.”

However, Benson admits he is pleased with the progress of a number of his inexperienced players. “There are quite a few coming through that are getting better every week and are really committed to the levels they need to be at.”

Rochdale Hornets coach Ian Talbot with check on Gareth Langley (knee) and Jordan Case, but Paul Crook could return and new signing Matty Crow could make his debut after joining from Wigan Warriors.

Talbot said: “I’ve coached against Matty in the U20s and he’s athletic, strong, quick and has all the attributes you’d want of someone who’s come through the set-up at Wigan.

“He’s got nowhere to play at the moment due to the restructuring of the competitions, but he wants to test himself at this level and we’re pleased to have got him on board.”

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