Halifax v Dewsbury Rams – A second consecutive home match for Halifax, but they’ll be hoping for a better result than last weekend. Dewsbury travel across West Yorkshire after a win in round four against the competition’s current basement side.
In Round Four
Halifax went down 24-12 to Featherstone Rovers at The Shay, and were also on the receiving end of an awful injury to a key player. Miles Greenwood suffered a broken leg in the Rovers match, Scott Murrell showed great leadership as he stayed by Greenwood’s side until he was stretchered off the field. Fax’ were 6-0 down in the early stages due to a Paul Sykes try, which was converted by himself. Things got worse for the hosts when Tom Johnstone leaped highest to catch a Gareth Moore bomb, and at 12-0, Richard Marshall’s side had some work to do. Steve Tyrer got his side on the scoreboard on the 31st minute and they were the last points of the half. Andy Ellis extended Featherstone’s lead on the hour but Halifax fought back willingly as Mitch Cahalane barged his way over with five minutes left. Joe Arundel made sure that Rovers’ lead wasn’t to be relinquished, as the dual-registered Wakefield centre crossed in the last minute of the clash.
Dewsbury bounced back from their defeat to Hunslet with a slender seven point victory over Whitehaven. It was the Cumbrians who got the scoreboard ticking with Scott McAvoy in the early stages of the match, but Dewsbury replied swiftly courtesy of a Dalton Grant try. Anthony Thackeray weaved his way over the line for Glenn Morrison’s men in a game where no team was taking it by the scruff of the neck. Thackeray slotted over a drop-goal before Widnes’ dual-registered three-quarter Declan Hulme got his Haven’ side within three points at the break. Jessie Joe Nandye put James Coyle’s side into a 12-11 lead on the 48th minute but the missed conversions would come back to bite the Recreation Ground outfit on the rear. A couple of Rams tries in quick succession gave them a lengthy lead which wouldn’t be lost. Craig Calvert scored what would be a consolation try in the 67th minute.
The back-row battle will be like a reunion for Luke Adamson. Adamson departed Halifax in the off-season for a full-time contract at London but he made a return up north soon after due to family problems. He will come up against his former employer this weekend in what will be a very tough test. Rob Spicer and Adamson both scored tries in Rams’ last win over Whitehaven while Scott Hale had another consistent game. For Halifax, Adam Robinson, Dane Manning and Andy Bracek made up their back-row against Featherstone, and they stood up to the challenge as always. Manning is a very uncompromising player and he can really get the crowd going with some big collisions in the midfield. Both sides have yard makers in their forward ranks and, on what’s been a poor pitch at The Shay, any extra field position will be vital for the half-backs.
After a tough loss and a very unfortunate injury to full-back Greenwood, Halifax will be up against it when Dewsbury come to town. The Rams nilled Halifax at The Shay in the playoff series of 2014 so Richard Marshall will be wanting his lads to go out and avenge that dismal result. But after getting back on track against Whitehaven, and having lost to newly promoted Hunslet, Dewsbury need to gain some consistency if they’re to challenge the ‘big boys’ – Dewsbury by 4.
Hunslet Hawks v Doncaster – The Hawks were mauled by Bradford in the last round of games while Doncaster were on the receiving end of a pretty similar result against Leigh.
In Round Four
Hunslet travelled to Bradford looking to upset the full-time side who are under the stewardship of James Lowes. Barry Eaton’s side couldn’t get near to the Bulls, though, as they went down 56-6 at the Provident Stadium. The Hawks were 34-0 down at the half due to tries from Jake Mullaney, Lee Gaskell, Adam O’Brien, Danny Williams and a brace from Ryan Shaw. It was disappointing for the Huns who needed to come out in the second half with a fighting spirit to keep the score as respectable as possible. The hosts ran in 22 more points but the visitors got on the board themselves courtesy of Luke Briscoe. Mullaney and O’Brien completed their braces whilst Shaw got his hat-trick score on the 65th minute. Tom Olbison also added a score for Lowes’ side who just had too much power for Hunslet. The Hawks shouldn’t be too disheartened by this though, as Bradford annihilated Featherstone 40-4 on the Rovers’ own patch in round three.
Doncaster were hoping that deja vu would hit at the Keepmoat Stadium last Sunday. The Dons were the only team to beat Leigh during the Championship season of 2014 and Paul Cooke would have loved it if his side could pull out a similar performance. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for the South Yorkshire outfit as the Centurions were 54-18 winners. Doncaster’s only try of the first half came from Mike Emmett out of dummy half, while Leigh had scored their 26 points via Sam Barlow, Gregg McNally, Liam Kay and a brace from Ryan Brierley. Emmett found his way onto the scoresheet in the second half too, along with teammate Sam Doherty. Unfortunately for Cooke and his troops, the Centurions ran in 28 more points which was aided by three tries in the half from winger Kay. The other four pointers came from kicking pivot Martyn Ridyard and Tom Armstrong.
The hooking battle should be an entertaining one to witness. Jack Lee came to Hunslet in the off-season with the Championship 1 Player Of The Year accolade under his belt while Kyle Kesik has been a regular fixture in the Doncaster team for a good few years now. Lee tore the Championship 1 apart for York City Knights during most of 2014 and Barry Eaton was obviously impressed as he signed him up to the Hawks squad for 2015 before the previous season had even ended. Kesik is a dynamic figure, not the fastest but has got a very good rugby brain. He’s a Paul Cooke kind of player, a leader and one that is passionate in his ways on the field. Having not had much game time when he was at Sheffield, he went on loan to Doncaster at first but then made his move permanent and he’s been a big hit with the fans ever since. Both players are great at exploiting the gaps created around the ruck and it’ll be interesting to see how they get on at the weekend.
A match between two teams that haven’t been tipped to set the world alight in the Championship this season. Both outfits will be fancying themselves to get the win and after Doncaster’s heavy loss to Hunslet in pre-season, they’ll be wanting to make amends – Hunslet by 10.
Whitehaven v London Broncos – Whitehaven are still hunting for their first win of the season after a tight loss to Dewsbury. London have won both of their home ties in the 2015 Championship, but are still on a blank away from home.
In Round Four
Whitehaven went down to West Yorkshire to take on the Dewsbury Rams, in hope of gaining their first victory of the Championship campaign. James Coyle’s side were close but couldn’t quite grab the cigar as the Rams came out 23-16 victors. The Cumbrians were 11-8 down at the half, despite scoring the same amount of tries as their opponents. Scott McAvoy and Declan Hulme crossed for Haven’ while Dalton Grant and Anthony Thackeray went over for Dewsbury, Thackeray added a drop-goal to give the score a rather peculiar look. Jessie Joe Nandye put the visitors in front for the second time in the clash on the 48th minute, but another missed conversion meant that they were only one point to the good. Rob Spicer and Luke Adamson both brought back the lead, and extended it, with two scores in quick succession. A Craig Calvert reply gave Whitehaven a bit of hope but four missed conversions really cost them come the end of the match.
London faced Whitehaven’s neighbours, Workington Town, at The Hive and the Broncos came out of the match with two points in the bag. A 34-16 win will have pleased interim coach Andrew Henderson, who was in charge after Joey Grima’s departure in the week leading up to the match. The Broncos’ Brad Dwyer and Matt Garside scored the only tries of the first half, both were converted by Wes Naiqama. Perry Whiteley and Jarrad Stack brought Town back to within two points of their opponents but that’s as close as they’d get during the match. Jonathan Wallace and Tom Gilmore ensured the hosts’ lead in the match, before Rhys Lovegrove and Iliess Macani made sure of the win with tries in the final minutes of the clash.
The battle in the centres will be a good one to watch, should the same players be selected for their respective clubs. Ben Farrar and Wes Naiqama, the centres for London against Workington, have both played at NRL level so they’re great players to have in the ranks. But I don’t think they’ll have played up in Whitehaven before! For the Cumbrians, Declan Hulme, on dual-registration from Widnes Vikings, and Jessie Joe Nandye made up the centres in round four. Both have a great eye for the line, as shown with the pair getting on the scoresheet against Dewsbury. There’ll be some great match-ups on the field but watch out for the fringes, as they’ll be some good rugby being played out there.
Whitehaven is a very challenging place to get a win, and most of the current London Broncos players won’t have encountered such conditions. However, Andrew Henderson does have that knowledge of what it’s like and he’ll be feeding the players with that information on how to get away from Cumbria with the two points in the bag. Cream rises the top and that should be the case here – London by 16
Workington Town v Sheffield Eagles – The Eagles have been uncharacteristically good at the start of the season, winning three out of their first four matches. Workington, on the other hand, have recorded one win in three matches, their game in hand will come against Dewsbury after their round two fixture was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.
In Round Four
Workington Town travelled down to Edgware to take on London Broncos. The task at hand was a big one, despite London only winning one match out of three going into the clash. Phil Veivers’ side were on the wrong end of a 34-16 result in a game where they contested valiantly for the most part. The visitors were 12-0 down at the break after tries from Brad Dwyer and former Sheffield forward Matt Garside. Perry Whiteley and Jarrad Stack got Town’s scoring underway in the opening stages of the second half, which also cut the deficit to a slender two points. However, the Broncos’ stranglehold on the game got stronger when Jonathan Wallace and loanee half-back Tom Gilmore both crossed the whitewash. Carl Forber got the Cumbrians’ third try of the match on the 65th minute but further scores for London came courtesy of Rhys Lovegrove and Iliess Macani.
Sheffield Eagles returned to the Keepmoat Stadium after a successful trip up at Whitehaven in round three. A win over Batley Bulldogs was the target as both teams, going into the match, were sitting pretty in the top four. A win was what the Eagles gained, 28-16 being the final score. Mark Aston’s side went into the sheds 20-10 up after two tries from Menzie Yere and singles for Rob Worrincy and Dominic Brambani. Batley’s tries came courtesy of Alistair Leak and Wayne Reittie. The second half was edgy, and you’d be dumbfounded by how many sets weren’t completed by both sides. James Brown was left feeling good when he opened the Bulldogs’ scoring account for the second 40 minutes of play, making use of some light defensive work. But that converted try was the last points the visitors registered in the tie, despite having some good opportunities to add to their tally. Patch Walker slotted over a penalty goal before Quentin Laulu-Togagae went over for a try to finish the game off in style. Walker converted the final score of the game and the former Dewsbury is now two points off 1000 for his career.
The prop forwards have my choice for this week’s key battle. The pitch will more than likely be heavy under foot which will mean the props will have to cart their team up the field and stick the ball ‘up the jumper’ as the well-known phrase goes. Mark Shackley and Tom Walker were the starting prop forwards for Workington against London whilst Sheffield’s starting props against Batley consisted of Eddie Battye and Steve Thorpe. All the forwards will be tested to the maximum at the weekend in what will be an endurance test of mammoth proportions.
Both teams will see this as a winnable match and the Eagles will be eying up a fourth consecutive victory. Workington have only played one game at the Zebra Claims Stadium this season, but they did convincingly beat Doncaster 33-6. Phil Veivers will be wanting his side’s home ground to be a fortress for the season, a win against the Eagles will be a feather in their cap – Sheffield by 8