The second round of matches, bar one, in the Kingstone Press Championship have concluded. This is the time we get to go over the matches that have been played and take a look at what we have coming up in round three.
Bradford Bulls 34-4 Whitehaven – The Bulls bounced back from an opening round defeat to Leigh Centurions with a victory over Whitehaven. With a 10-4 lead at half-time, most Bradford fans will have been unsatisfied with the score as the Cumbrians have been in slight turmoil after the departure of coach Steve Deakin a week before their first match. But James Lowes’ side posted 24 more points in the second half, along with keeping their opponents scoreless. Adrian Purtell and Jay Pitts scored the hosts’ two first half tries, while Whitehaven’s PNG three-quarter Jessie Joe Nandye notched their only try of the match. The second half belonged to one Bradford Bull in particular, Lee Gaskell. The tricky half-back went over the whitewash three times during the final 40 minutes, compiling more misery on Whitehaven’s day. Gaskell’s hat-trick was improved upon with a try courtesy of Adam Sidlow in the 78th minute. A good day overall for the West Yorkshire side from Odsal.
Prediction – Bradford by 36
Result – Bradford by 30.
Doncaster 6-13 Featherstone Rovers – A real tight affair in the first match of the double-header at the Keepmoat Stadium. Paul Cooke’s Doncaster had the upper hand going into the sheds after 40 minutes, a slender 4-0 lead was all that separated the two sides. Danny Cowling was the lone scorer in the first half. Whatever Andy Hay said to his players at half-time worked a treat as Nathan Chappell pounced on a Jy Hitchcox grubber. Paul Sykes couldn’t convert and 4-4 was the score before the former Great Britain international made amends for his conversion miss as he landed a penalty goal to edge his side in front. Stewart Sanderson returned serve with a penalty of his own to level the tie at 6-6 but the visitors were to have the last laugh. A try from Matty Ryan, on dual-registration from Wakefield, proved a bitter blow for Doncaster who couldn’t claw back the deficit come the end of the game. Sykes converted and things were to get better soon after for the Post Office Road side. A Remy Marginet drop-goal in the dying embers of the game sealed the deal for Featherstone who have now won their first two games of the season. Doncaster are without a win going into the third round, after losing by two points to London and seven points to Featherstone.
Prediction – Featherstone by 10
Result – Featherstone by 7
Halifax 6-18 Leigh Centurions – Leigh carried on from their good win against Bradford in round one as the Lancashire outfit scraped past a gritty Halifax side. It was an arm-wrestle for the forwards as a terrible looking pitch only got worse as the match wore on. The Centurions struck up an early lead as Liam Kay bagged a brace in the space of nine first half minutes. His first try came on 16 minutes, and his second on the 24th as Leigh seized the initiative in West Yorkshire. The ever-reliable Martyn Ridyard converted both scores. Mitch Cahalane visited the sin-bin three minutes after Kay scored his second try. The no-nonsense Australian collided with Sam Barlow off the ball which granted him a stint in the bin. The score remained 12-0 to the visitors until after half-time. Halifax had a dream start to the second half as young hooker Ryan Maneely pounced on a poor pass from Jonathan Pownall. Steve Tyrer converted which cut the deficit to a short six points. However, solid defence by the Centurions left Halifax scoreless from after Maneely’s try, and the game was over when Pownall made up for his error by scoring in front of the travelling Leigh fans with two minutes remaining. Ridyard popped over his customary conversion. Paul Rowley’s men were professional in their ways, apart from Pownall’s wild pass to nobody. Richard Marshall will take positives in running the current Championship champions close, there’s a lot to be optimistic about at The Shay.
Prediction – Leigh by 14
Result – Leigh by 12
Hunslet Hawks 14-26 Batley Bulldogs – John Kear’s Bulldogs kept up their perfect start to the season with a 26-14 victory over recently promoted Hunslet Hawks. An 18-0 second half performance was more than enough to grant Batley the victory, they’re certainly a team to watch for 2015. Hunslet went into the half-time interval 14-8 to the good, after converted tries from Jimmy Watson and Brad Brennan as well as a penalty goal from Simon Brown. Batley’s tries were scored by James Craven and Shaun Squires, but neither were converted by Scott Leatherbarrow. Three Bulldogs’ tries in the second half rocked the Hawks as the game slipped away from them. Anthony Nicholson wasted no time in levelling matters, a dummy-half try on 43 minutes was the perfect catalyst to Batley’s dominance in the latter stages of the tie. Shaun Ainscough went over the whitewash on 56 minutes, the former Super League three-quarter had Leatherbarrow to thank for directing a perfectly weighted kick into his hands. The former Keighley half-back landed both conversions and even added a penalty goal for good measure. As the game entered its final minutes, Hunslet weren’t threatening the rugged Batley defence, and the side from Mount Pleasant had more to celebrate down the other end of the field before the game came to an end. Wayne Reittie touched down with a minute left to play as he made the most of a Sam Scott offload. Leatherbarrow couldn’t add the extras but that didn’t matter to anybody associated with the Bulldogs as they got one over on their fellow West Yorkshire counterparts.
Prediction – Batley by 16
Result – Batley by 12
Sheffield Eagles 40-6 London Broncos – The biggest winning margin of round two came at the Keepmoat Stadium as Mark Aston’s Sheffield Eagles taught Joey Grima’s London Broncos a lesson in how to win a rugby match in style. It was clear from the off who was the better side and the Eagles typified why a move to the bigger pitch at Doncaster was beneficial to the team. In a disastrous afternoon for London, numerous players were injured which included both co-captains, Richard Mathers and Nick Slyney, along with young half-back Joe Keyes. Michael Knowles got the scoring underway for the South Yorkshire side after two minutes, and despite early Broncos’ pressure, Sheffield’s defence held firm and rewards down the other end were soon to be on show. Jon Molloy, on debut after signing on loan from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in mid-week, Quentin Laulu-Togagae and Kyle Briggs all added to Knowles’ score as Sheffield went into half-time 20-0 up. The wave of Sheffield dominance kept flowing after the break, Misi Taulapapa scored his first try of the season on 43 minutes. Sam Smeaton added his first score in Sheffield colours, after good work with the boot from Cory Aston and slick ball control from winger Taulapapa. Rhys Williams got the capital club on the board after 58 minutes, the winger was the beneficiary of Steve Thorpe’s knock-on. Two tries in the final seven minutes of the game rounded off a spectacular first day at the Keepmoat Stadium office for Sheffield. Duane Straugheir and Scott Turner both recorded tries as the Eagles met the 40 point barrier.
Prediction – London by 10
Result – Sheffield by 34.
Workington Town P-P Dewsbury Rams – The game at the Zebra Claims Stadium was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.
Kingstone Press Championship Round Three fixtures:
Batley Bulldogs v Halifax
Featherstone Rovers v Bradford Bulls
Hunslet Hawks v Dewsbury Rams
Leigh Centurions v London Broncos
Whitehaven v Sheffield Eagles
Workington Town v Doncaster