Kingstone Press Championships previews

Sunday July 21

Batley Bulldogs v Doncaster (2.00pm)

Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear has promised a marked improvement in his side’s defence after last week’s 36-30 defeat against Whitehaven.

The Bulldogs conceded six tries against the Cumbrians to leave Kear frustrated.

He said: “Our intensity dropped and we became loose and casual.

“Our defence wasn’t good enough and that’s something I’m annoyed about. (This week) they’ll get back to defending how Batley can defend.”

Kear is now hoping for more consistency from his entire team after a patchy performance against Whitehaven.

“Dan Fleming was absolutely immense and caused problems every time he had the ball, but we had some who had absolute stinkers.”

Doncaster coach Tony Miller has eight games left as head coach and will be determined to make the top eight.

The Dons are currently two points adrift of Workington Town, but are buoyed by last week’s 30-26 win over Hunslet Hawks.

Miller said: “We showed a lot of character to come back and we probably just deserved to win it.

“We got there and more importantly, we got the three points we needed.”


Barrow Raiders v Hunslet Hawks (3.00pm)


Loan signing Ben Hellewell, who has agreed a month-long switch from Featherstone Rovers, could make his Barrow Raiders debut in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with Hunslet Hawks.


The Raiders are still in play-off contention, trailing eighth-placed Workington Town by just five points.


Prop Brad Brennan faces a fitness test on a knee injury, but Jack Spencer and Dan Toal are both expected to feature against the Hawks.


Hunslet coach Barry Eaton believes one win could kick-start the Hawks into a late push for a play-off place.


Eaton said: “We’ve got the effort and commitment, we just need to find a win to give us the energy and confidence to kick on. We’re still fighting.


“It’s a really tight, competitive league. We’ve got seven games left and while we’re aware we’re in a fight, we’re also aware that a couple of wins can take you up towards the play-offs.”


Andy Yates, Danny Grimshaw and Luke Helliwell all have an ‘outside chance’ of playing on Sunday, while Tommy Haughey (bicep) faces a fitness test.


Keighley Cougars v Dewsbury Rams (3.00pm)


Andy Shickell and Ryan Patchett face late fitness tests as the Keighley Cougars look to force their way into the top eight of the Kingstone Press Championship.


Ninth-placed Keighley are level on points with eighth-placed Workington Town and only two points behind Dewsbury Rams, who are currently seventh.


Cougars coach Paul March said: “We could jump as high as seventh this week, depending on other results.


“Getting in the eight was one of our goals at the beginning of the year and we’re still focused on that.”


Keighley won 36-16 at Swinton Lions last week, recovering from an early 16-0 deficit with a performance that pleased March.


He said: “We’ve found some belief and we showed a lot of character at Swinton. Hopefully that’s installed even more belief in us and we can kick on from here.”


Makali Aizue could come into contention for Dewsbury, who have been warned by coach Glenn Morrison that they must concentrate for longer.


Morrison said: “We were good in the first 15 minutes last week, but then we veered away from that and it wasn’t until the last 15 minutes that we started to play footy again.


“We need to be playing well for 80 minutes. Keighley will have lots of confidence and we’re in a competition at the moment with all the teams around us. It’s a vital match for both teams.”


Workington Town v Swinton Lions (3.00pm)


Shaun Briscoe and Dan Rooney are Workington Town’s only absentees ahead of Sunday’s showdown with Swinton Lions.


Jamie Thackeray and Mark Calderwood are back in contention for Workington, who have played fewer games than anyone else in the Kingstone Press Championship but remain in the top eight.


Workington coach Gary Charlton said: “We had last week off and that seems to have done us some good. A few blokes were carrying little knocks, but everyone trained really well on Tuesday.


“This is a big game for Swinton as well as ourselves. They’re going to come out fast and really strong, and it’s up to us to be able to match that intensity.”


He added: “We’ve got to be looking to get three points. We’ve got home advantage, which is a big thing in this league, and if we defend like we did against Dewsbury then we shouldn’t be too far off.”


Struggling Swinton have won only one of their last seven games, but they are boosted by the return of Richie Hawkyard and Matt Sarsfield for Sunday’s trip north.


Assistant player-coach Ian Watson said: “We have to be stand up and be counted.”


York City Knights v Whitehaven  (3.00pm)

York City Knights coach Gary Thornton is aiming to halt a three-match losing streak when his side host Whitehaven on Sunday.

The Knights remain in contention for a Kingstone Press Championship play-off place, but last week’s 20-16 defeat at Dewsbury Rams has not helped their cause.

Thornton said: “We were well in command, but we had a 10-minute period in the second half that really cost us.

“We’re putting pressure on ourselves by not winning games that in my opinion we should win.

“The bonus point was scant consolation – we should have had all three.”

On facing Whitehaven, Thornton said: “Things don’t get any easier and there are no easy games from now on.”

Simon Brown remains suspended while James Ford is also ruled out.

Whitehaven are in sixth place, with last week’s impressive 36-30 win over Batley Bulldogs giving Dave Woods’ squad plenty of confidence.

Woods’ men travel to York without Matty Palmer (ankle), but hooker Chris Smith is back in contention.

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