Keighley Cougars v Swinton Lions – The Cougars are looking to bounce back from last week’s defeat to Barrow whilst thrashings of Hemel and London Skolars bring the Lions to Cougar Park in buoyant mood.
In Round One
The Cougars strolled past amateur outfit East Leeds in what a time appeared a training game for the home side. Ash Lindsay and Lewis Graham both bagged hat-tricks whilst Paul Handforth grabbed two against the NCL Premier side. Danny Lawton, Rikki Sheriffe and Paul White also crossed whilst Danny Jones kicked 10 of his 11 conversion attempts.
A spell of domination in the final ten minutes of the first half paved the way for Swinton as they saw of the Hemel Stags 34-0 in the first round. In the driving rain at Park Lane, Ritchie Hawkyard grabbed a hat-trick whilst hooker Andy Ackers bagged two himself. Shaun Robinson and Connor Dwyer also crossed the line whilst the Lions also had three tries chalked off.
Ross Peltier (Thumb) is still out for Keighley whilst four players remain doubts for the game. Paul March (Calf), David March (Hamstring), Daley Williams (Back) and Luke Haigh (Knee) are all to undergo late fitness tests before Sunday.
John Duffy has a fully fit squad to pick from and is expected to be unchanged from the club record 86-4 victory last Saturday. The only change what may happen to the Swinton seventeen could be the debut of Mat Gardner, the former Leigh man joined the Lions last week following a stint in Brazilian Rugby Union.
The battle of the half backs proved to be the key to victory for Swinton when these two came head-to-head in pre-season and it will be a key battle once again at Cougar Park. Ben White and Jimmy Rowland are up and coming youngsters who along with full back Chris Atkin are the key to everything the Lions do on the field. The experience of Handforth and Danny Jones proved to be a match winner on many occasion last term for Keighley and these two need to be at their best if Paul March’s side are to progress to the semi-finals.
The defensive collapse at Barrow hurt Paul March and also left him with his twin brother David and Daley Williams both on the injury list and Paul hinting at changes. Swinton will be brimming with confidence for this one, but the Cougars are certainly no Hemel Stags or London Skolars. Expect this to be a cracker. – Swinton by 7.
Barrow Raiders v Oldham Roughyeds – The Raiders overcame the injury to Lee Haney to comfortably beat Keighley last time out whilst this will provide a first real test for Oldham after back-to-back home victories over the Coventry Bears.
In Round One
The Raiders were given an almighty scare in the wind, rain and snow by the Gloucestershire All Golds but scraped through with the two point margin of victory. Chris Hankinson had scored but the Raiders trailed 14-4 going into the closing stages of the afternoon but Liam Campbell and Hankinson’s fellow Leigh loanee Craig Briscoe fought over to get Barrow through.
After a slow start at Whitebank, Oldham finally got to grips in difficult conditions to give Coventry an unhappy start to life in the semi-professional games. Wingers Adam Clay and Jarrod Ward both grabbed a brace with Adam Neal, Jack Holmes and Nathan Mason rounding up the scoring.
The Raiders made Josh Ward’s loan move from Leigh permanent this week getting the young half back to put pen to paper on a new two year deal at Craven Park. Whitehaven’s Brad Crellin and Leigh’s Cameron Pitman arrived on Thursday and both could go straight into the squad for Sunday’s game. Lee Haney is expected to miss out after being airlifted to hospital after sustaining a neck injury against Keighley.
At the time of writing, we’re awaiting confirmation of which Huddersfield players are available on dual registration to Scott Naylor after being unable to take any players from the Giants out of fear of Oldham cup-tying their players for later in the competition.
After two tough tests against the All Golds and Keighley, Barrow come into the game as massive favourites as the Roughyeds have had two easy home triumphs over Coventry. Home advantage in difficult conditions and a squad brimming the confidence and youth, this should be a hurdle that Paul Crarey’s men should overcome. – Barrow by 16.
North Wales Crusaders v Rochdale Hornets – Both overcame tricky tests against amateur opposition in the Challenge Cup last time out and both are in for tough afternoons once again.
In Round One
The Crusaders had a potential banana skin away at amateur double winners West Hull in the first round. Scott Turner and the unit Jono Smith both grabbed a brace on Humberside with Rob Massam, Tommy Johnson and Callum Wright on debut completing the victory on a tough afternoon for the Wrexham club.
It was a walkover for Ian Talbot’s men who saw off South Wales Scorpions who featured ten debutants 40-0 at Spotland. Danny Bridge, Bradley Hragreaves, Alex McClurg, Danny Yates, Dale Bloomfield, Jordan Case and Tony Suffolk all grabbing a try for the Hornets.
The Crusaders coach Anthony Murray may make changes after stating he was disappointed by the side’s performance last weekend against Widnes West Bank in the Challenge Cup, however, Murray will look to avoid using players from partner club Warrington.
Rochdale are coming into the game without Danny Bridge and Alex Trumper for this Sunday’s game. Bridge is out with a fractured cheekbone whilst Trumper is still missing from the side with a broken jaw.
North Wales have yet to test themselves against opposition at their level after playing West Hull and Widnes West Bank and the Hornets had a tough test away at Kells last week after easing past South Wales, gut instinct suggests a hard fought away win. – Rochdale by 4.
York City Knights v Newcastle Thunder – Both sides are coming into the game on the back of hard fought away wins, the Knights seeing off South Wales with Newcastle being given a great game by amateur side Wath Brow Hornets.
In Round One
The Knights put one of the final nails in Joe Mbu’s coffin after thrashing the Skolars 78-10 at the White Hart Lane Community Sports Centre. Nev Morrison grabbed a hat-trick with Pete Aspinall and Pat Smith both getting a brace each. Ed Smith, Liam Cunningham, Kristian Brining, Harry Carter, Jake Joynt and James Haynes also getting on the scoreboard.
Despite being pushed for the best part of an hour, Stanley Gene’s side eventually ran out comfortable 56-20 victors away at Oxford. Despite an early Stuart Kain try, Thunder fell behind but a Lee Mapals double as well as tries from Joe Brown, Jason Tali, Matty Beharrell, Benn Hardcastle, Matt Barron, Rhys Clarke and Charlie Wabo completed the Thunder progression to the final eight.
The Knights are set to give loan signing Luke Menzies his debut after parent club Salford wouldn’t allow him to play in the Challenge Cup last Sunday. Menzies aside, the York side is expected to be unchanged from last week’s victory in South Wales.
Thunder are still without Jacob Blades who has been out since withdrawing from the Keighley friendly in pre-season late into the warm up. Aside from Blades, Stanley Gene has a fully fit side to choose from.
This game is being played at York RUFC’s Clifton Park, a ground the Knights know well as they train there twice a week. This could give them the slight advantage over the Thunder heading into the game, but the Newcastle forward pack could prove the decisive factor in this one. – Newcastle by 10.