Kingstone Press Championships previews

Thursday 11 July

Kingstone Press Championship

Halifax v Featherstone Rovers (7.30pm, Premier Sports)

Halifax coach Karl Harrison insists his side will need to be at their “very best” if they are to jump to the top of the Kingstone Press Championship table by beating Featherstone Rovers on Thursday.

Fax will be without Scott Murrell (hand) for the crucial clash, just four days after they scored 50 points against Whitehaven.

Harrison said: “We’ve got a massive encounter that everybody’s looking forward to. It’s a shame we’ve got Murrell injured, but that’s the way it is.

“Featherstone are very direct, very powerful and take their chances. We need to be at our very best.”

Rovers coach Ryan Sheridan hopes to include Vince Mellars following a recent hamstring problem, while Charlie Martin is also in contention.

Featherstone beat Halifax 40-18 in the reverse fixture in April, but Sheridan insists that will not come into the reckoning for Thursday’s fixture.

Sheridan said: “We’ve beaten them at the Big Fellas, but it’s a different game at their place.

“It’s going to be a real war of attrition, but these are the games we like playing. We’ve a lot of confidence off the back of Sunday’s victory (against Batley).”

Sunday 14 July


Kingstone Press Championship


Barrow Raiders v Leigh Centurions (3.00pm)


Buoyant Barrow Raiders are aiming for their fifth league win of the season after a dramatic 26-24 victory at York last week saw them climb off the foot of the Kingstone Press Championship table.


Scott Kaighan remains sidelined for the Raiders, but coach Darren Holt is determined to make the most of Barrow’s final eight league games of the season.


Holt said: We want the players, like they did last week, to silence a few of the critics.”


Leigh Centurions coach Paul Rowley has five injury concerns to check on, but is refusing to divulge the identity of the players struggling to be fit.


Rowley said: “After last week’s win Barrow will definitely be confident and they’re a very capable team.


“They’ll be disappointed that they’re slogging it out at the bottom of the table, because the likes of Haggerty and Harrison would probably get in any other Championship team.


“They’ve some key personnel and it’s a good old-fashioned rugby league ground. We face a real challenge.”


Dewsbury Rams v York City Knights (3.00pm)


Dewsbury coach Glenn Morrison could name an unchanged side as the Rams search for a win that would keep them in the top eight of the Kingstone Press Championship.


Morrison said: “These next few games we play are all ‘must-wins’.


“We can either put a buffer there between ourselves and the teams below us, or you can end up getting leapfrogged if you get a couple of bad results close together.”


York City Knights coach Gary Thornton faces a major headache after losing Simon Brown to a four-match suspension.


Thornton said: “Losing a player of Simon’s calibre is bound to cause us some problems.


“It’s going to stretch us for four games until we get him back, but these are the things you’ve got to deal with. You’ve got to bounce back and you can’t feel sorry for yourself.”


Thornton added: “Every game between now and the end of the season is going to have pressure on it, because we play all the teams in and around us.


“If we want to achieve our ambitions, then we’ve got to win games like this.”


Doncaster v Hunslet Hawks (3.00pm)


Doncaster coach Tony Miller is likely to have Paul Cooke available for Sunday’s clash with Hunslet Hawks.


The former Hull FC and Hull KR star missed last week’s 36-30 defeat against Leigh Centurions.


But he looks set to return against the Hawks as the Dons look to keep the pressure on the teams above them.


Miller said: I think the next four games, three of which are at home, will probably determine whether we will be challenging for a top-eight spot.”


Hunslet pair Tommy Haughey (knee) and Luke Menzies (ankle) both face fitness checks after suffering injuries in last week’s 28-20 defeat at Keighley.


The Hawks are one point behind Barrow at the bottom of the Kingstone Press Championship table, but coach Barry Eaton remains upbeat.


Eaton said: “We’re still really, really positive. We know we’re in a fight and our performance last week showed we’re willing to fight, we just need to tweak a couple of things.


“When we had some field position we looked really dangerous with the ball. Our shape looked really threatening against Keighley.”


However, Eaton is aware of Doncaster’s quality. He said: “They’ve been playing well of late. We know we’ve got another fight on our hands.”


Swinton Lions v Keighley Cougars (3.00pm)


Jack Cooper and Richie Hawkyard are missing for Swinton as Lions coach Gary Chambers tries to keep alive his side’s play-off dream.


Chambers said: “All our games are must-win now. I’ll make no bones about it; this game against Keighley is massive.”


Chambers is hoping home advantage will play a big part in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship fixture.


He said: “It takes a bit of strain off and keep us fresh. When we’re on form we play well on a bigger field, but it’s getting to the stage now where we need to play well in every game.”


Craig Moss is set to make his first appearance for Keighley Cougars this year after coming through three U20s games after recovering from an off-season shoulder operation.


Cougars coach Paul March said: “If we could get another win this weekend that would be three on the bounce and would help put some daylight between ourselves and the bottom sides.


“We were below par in terms of our performance last week, but we still got the points and that’s really pleasing.”


Whitehaven v Batley Bulldogs (3.00pm)


Whitehaven coach Dave Woods is waiting for news on which dual-registration players he has available before finalising his squad to face Batley Bulldogs.


Sixth-placed Whitehaven are sure to remain in the top eight this week – but Woods knows the pressure remains on in the race to the play-offs.


Woods said: “We were really disappointed with our last 20 minutes last week, but the good thing is we know we can compete against the top sides – we’ve just got to do it for 80 minutes.


“This game’s really important and home advantage is great for us. It’s a tough place to come to and we generally play well at home.”


Batley’s Ash Lindsay is “very, very doubtful” to face Whitehaven, according to Bulldogs coach John Kear.


Ayden Faal (knee) is also in doubt ahead of a match Kear has challenged his side to “nail”.


Kear said: “We’re making incorrect decisions at crucial parts of the game and they’re costing us. We need to learn from those.


“The really great teams stick to the plan and never get bored with sticking to it. That’s something we need to learn.


“Going away in this league and winning is difficult, but we need to nail a difficult one.”


Kingstone Press Championship One


Gateshead Thunder v Oxford (3.00pm)


Gateshead Thunder coach Kevin Neighbour wants his men to replicate last week’s first half over a full 80 minutes.


Gateshead drew 12-12 with London Skolars during the first 40 minutes of the New River Stadium clash, but eventually lost 52-24.


Neighbour said: “We were the most powerful side in the first half.”


Oxford are only two places above Gateshead in the Kingstone Press Championship One table, but they are 12 points clear of their hosts.


Tony Benson’s men are set to travel without Lucas Onyango, who looks to have suffered a season-ending knee injury.


Dave Ellison (suspected broken jaw) is also missing, while Andrew Bentley (knee) and Valu Bentley (ankle) face late fitness checks after a bruising clash with Oldham.


Benson said: “Gateshead are not the Gateshead of old. They’re much stronger than they have been and we know exactly the challenge we’ll face on Sunday.”


Gloucestershire All Golds v Hemel Stags (3.00pm)


Confident Gloucestershire All Golds are aiming for three wins on the bounce when they host Hemel Stags on Sunday.


The All Golds lost their first nine Kingstone Press Championship One fixtures, but have since beaten Oxford and South Wales Scorpions.


And Hemel coach Troy Perkins admits those results have changed his side’s approach to Sunday’s fixture.


Perkins said: “They’re going to be full of confidence and they’ll be expecting to claim another scalp.


“Brad Hepi has picked up some decent players over the last few weeks and a good win last week will be spurring them on.


“From our point of view, their results can work as a bit of a positive because we’re not going to go in complacent, which may have happened if they were still without a win.”


Stags winger Christian Champion is facing up to six weeks on the sidelines after suffering a medial ligament injury against Rochdale Hornets.


Oldham v South Wales Scorpions (3.00pm)


Liam Gilchrist (calf) is a doubt for Oldham as Roughyeds coach Scott Naylor tries to overhaul North Wales Crusaders at the top of the Kingstone Press Championship One table.


Victory for Oldham would put them two points clear, but Naylor’s men would have played two games more than the Crusaders.


Naylor said: “As long as we keep winning, we’ll put North Wales under pressure. We’re on the run-in now and wins are what matter more than anything.”


Scorpions look set to be without Connor Farrer, David James and Phil Carleton, but Ben Moores and Billy Sheen return to Dave Clark’s squad.


Clark said: “The boys came up with their own short term goals for the remaining five fixtures.


“We are still confident of making the play-offs, we just need consistency in our game.”

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