Hemel Stags v Swinton Lions (2.30)
Hemel Stags coach Troy Perkins is hoping for a big improvement in his team this week: “Hopefully the players are a bit rejuvenated and are ready to make big improvements,” he said. “We won’t win many games this year if we carry on defending like we have been. Swinton will be looking to get back to winning ways after the disappointment of losing in the iPro Sport Cup final.
“They’re a good team, they beat us in the first round of the iPro Sport Cup earlier in the season. They’ve got some experienced players, like to move the ball a fair bit and have some big forwards who get them on a roll. They’ve got threats all over the field, so it’s going to be another testing game for us.
“We just need to improve our defence and make sure we don’t concede anywhere near the tries we have been doing. If you don’t defend you can cop a hammering like we have done the last couple of weeks.”
John Duffy, the Swinton Lions coach said: “Obviously we were disappointed at the weekend, it was an experience for us but we’ve just got to look after our league performances now.
“We played Hemel earlier in the year and it was a tough game for 40/50 minutes.”
North Wales Crusaders v London Skolars (2.30)
North Wales Crusaders are back in league action after their iPro Sport Cup win. Coach Anthony Murray said: “I hope we don’t have a cup hangover, like a lot of teams do when they’ve been to a final. It’s back to the league now, which is our main focus for the rest of the season.
“We’ve got a good opportunity to carry on that momentum. We’ll be preparing for Skolars like we would any team because I’ve no doubt they are capable of pulling off a victory, as most teams are in that division given how competitive it’s turning out to be.
“I think Jermaine Coleman may be coming out of retirement and putting his boots on and I have no doubt he’ll be wanting to lead his troops well.”
Second rows Jono Smith and Alex Thompson, who are carrying knocks from Saturday’s final, are hoping to be fit.
London Skolars’ coach Jermaine Coleman may be forced to put his boots on this week: “Possibly, no decision has been made yet but it will be more out of need than want,” he said.
“We’re a little bit short in the halves this week. Oscar Thomas played very well for the Broncos last week so the chances of him coming back to us this week are pretty slim and Bish (Mike Bishay) hurt his ankle ligaments last week.
“Obviously the cup win was great for the Crusaders and hopefully we will get them in that little bit of a honeymoon period where they’ve enjoyed the week and come back down to ground with a bump!”
Coventry Bears v Barrow Raiders (3.00)
Tom Tsang, the Coventry Bears coach, is hoping the break has refreshed and recharged his squad so they can kick on for the rest of the season: “Barrow look pretty strong, they’ve had some good results, notably at Rochdale earlier in the season. They look to be up there with the top teams in the division so it’s going to be another tough one,” he said.
“We’re hoping to rebound from our last outing and improve a lot of our processes and our own performance. I think it’s about improving some basic stuff, which is I think what let us down at Gloucester. Hopefully we can sort ourselves out and get into the game.”
Barrow Raiders coach Paul Crarey said: “Again we’re going into the unknown. They had a bad loss against Gloucester but as a coach you’re always looking for a reaction. They’re at home and we’ve got to be wary of the reaction.
“We have a saying at the club ‘complacency is the enemy of winners’. It was really tough in London, they had a really good forward pack and it was a battle.
“Going to Coventry we’ve just got to look after ourselves and get focused again. We won’t read too much into them getting beat at Gloucester because we’ve all had some bad results this year and bounced back. We need another win on the road, the squad’s settling down and we’re knocking out good completion rates and becoming a tidier football side. There’s little things we didn’t do at London that we want to do at Coventry. We’re looking for improvement every week.”
Oxford v University of Gloucestershire All Golds (3.00)
Oxford coach Tim Rumford said: “The week off definitely came at a good time. We got a bit of a touch up at Rochdale and some of our inexperienced guys got schooled by a real experienced team. Although it wasn’t a good result for us, it’s another benchmarking exercise. It’s a lesson learned, we take it on the chin, review and go again.
“Gloucester are another good side, they’ve recruited well and seem to have a very good set up. I think they have been competitive with the northern sides and will be seeing the Oxford game as a good chance to get two points. I think we were showing some really good signs in the London game and the Hemel game and at Newcastle, where we were really competitive. We can improve and if we’re still in the game with 10 or 15 minutes to go at the weekend then I think the confidence in our boys will grow and we’ll give ourselves a good chance.”
South Wales Scorpions v Rochdale Hornets (3.00)
South Wales Scorpions coachMike Grady is looking for a reaction from his team this week following their 70-0 defeat to York City Knights: “It was a tough one but believe it or not we started off very well,” he said. “We do compete. Against Crusaders we competed for 35 minutes and were 14-12 up but as soon as we have a couple of tries put past us the floodgates open. My job at the moment is trying to work out why it happens. I’ll get to the bottom of it this week.
“It’s going to be tough to get a win this week. Rochdale are up there but we’ve just got to make it tough for teams who come down to South Wales. We need a competitive performance.”
Rochdale Hornets coach Ian Talbot says there are positives and negatives to his squad having had a week off. “We were hitting a little bit of form and getting a little bit of continuity in our performances so to have that broken didn’t quite come at the right time but these lads deserve a rest every now and then,” he said. “The commitment they put into play rugby at this level is fantastic.”
“Don’t get me wrong, we would have loved to have been at Blackpool in the cup final and enjoyed a day in the sun at the Summer Bash but we made the most of the rest while we had the opportunity. Let’s hope it hasn’t broken our momentum.
And talking of commitment, Talbot is full of praise for the journey South Wales made up to Yorkshire to take on York City Knights last week. “You’ve got to credit them for going all the way up to Featherstone on a Friday night,” he said. “I don’t know how they managed it. I’m sure if we had to go that far it would be a scratch team. You’ve got to commend their effort.”
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