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Rugby League Championship

PREVIEW: Table toppers go head-to-head

By Sean Hayes

Rochdale Hornets welcome Hull Kingston Rovers on Sunday in a Kingstone Press Championship top of the table clash, after they picked up their second win from as many games over Bradford Bulls last week.

It was a landmark victory as they recorded their first win at Odsal for 41 years after battling the conditions to come out on top 22-14 after trailing at the break.

Tries from Miles Greenwood, Samir Tahraoui and Danny Bridge, combined with five goals from Lewis Palfrey saw Alan Kilshaw’s men remain at the summit after round two.

It has been a fantastic start to their 2017 campaign as they followed up their 46-0 demolition of Dewsbury Rams, however their next test will probably be their toughest.

Hull KR were relegated from Super League in last year’s dramatic Million Pound Game and have recruited a strong squad in their quest to return at the first attempt.

They are early favourites for the title but that isn’t something which will bother the Hornets, as they have been written off before both of their fixtures this season.

It is the first time the two clubs have competed in the same division since 2006, a game which the Rovers hosted and won 26-12 in the old National League One competition.

You have to go back another year to find Rochdale’s last victory over their opponents this weekend, as they picked up a 30-26 win at Spotland in 2005, however on Hull’s last visit Hornets were on the wrong end of a 66-16 score line.

It is a game which has it all, as the best attack of the competition takes on the best defence, with Hull posting 82 points in their two outings and Rochdale conceding just 14, all of which were scored by Bradford.

The odds are stacked against the hosts, who have the smallest budget in the second tier, and it will also be a huge test for Kilshaw as he goes up against Tim Sheens.

Rochdale’s boss started his first grade coaching career in Australia with Queensland based club Sarina Crocodiles, while his opponent in the dugout was leading Australia to a World Cup victory.

Both coaches will be hoping for better conditions this week so they can implement their expansive style of play, as the snow hampered Kilshaw’s plans of doing so at Odsal last weekend.

However if the rain holds off on Sunday the fans who pack into the Crown Oil Arena could witness a brilliant showing of rugby league between the top two sides in the Championship.

These are the game that the Hornets have been relishing since gaining promotion from League One, and with nothing to lose after a fantastic start to the season they will be confident heading into this one.

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