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Kingstone Press Championship Round Ten Preview

After a week off for a number of sides due to the fifth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup, it’s time for the league campaign to get back underway. Here are the previews for round ten of the Kingstone Press Championship.

Doncaster v Bradford Bulls – Basement team Doncaster welcome Bradford to the Keepmoat Stadium for a 2:00pm kickoff. The first match of the customary South Yorkshire double-header.

Last Time Out

Doncaster didn’t have a Challenge Cup match last weekend as they were knocked out in round four by League 1 side North Wales Crusaders. Their last match in the league came a fortnight ago against Dewsbury Rams on home turf, but the Dons were on the wrong side of a 24-12 scoreline. Joel Farrell and Dale Morton put the Rams 8-0 up in the early stages before Paul Cooke’s side took the lead through Sam Doherty and Mike Emmett. A third unconverted score for the visitors came via Aaron Brown before a Tom Hemingway penalty goal separated the two sides at half-time. Scott Hale and Jason Crookes were the only scorers of four pointers in the second half, condemning Doncaster to their ninth consecutive league loss.

Bradford took part in a try-fest Challenge Cup tie against Hull KR last weekend at the Provident Stadium. Adam O’Brien and Dale Ferguson gave the Bulls a brilliant start in the match before Josh Mantellato and Kris Welham replied for the Super League outfit. Albert Kelly notched a converted try on the 34th minute to give KR a one score lead at half-time. Danny Addy and Greame Horne exchanged scores in the early stages of the first half before Kevin Larroyer crossed for Rovers. Two tries in quick succession for Bradford from Lee Gaskell and Lucas Walshaw handed the hosts a slender lead, but KR’s Italian goal-kicking three-quarter took centre stage as the Super League side went on to win by 20 points. Mantellato scored three more tries, adding to his lone score in the first half, while John Boudebza went over in the final minute of the match.

Key Battle

Doncaster will have to focus a lot of their attention on the mesmeric Lee Gaskell, the creator of many of the Bulls’ plays during matches. The other half-back that paired up with Gaskell against Hull KR was regular back-rower Danny Addy. For Doncaster, they’ll have had two weeks off from playing. The Dons half-backs against Dewsbury were Danny Nicklas and Ben Reynolds, on loan from Leigh Centurions. Reynolds had some good ideas up his sleeve but the execution of the plays weren’t what was needed. If the attacks don’t go to plan this weekend then Bradford, and Gaskell, will capitalise.

Prediction

It will take a marvellous performance from Doncaster to worry the Bulls. Bradford should have too much for the part-time side and the two points will more than likely go back to West Yorkshire come the end of the tie – Bradford by 32 

Leigh Centurions v Batley Bulldogs – The unbeaten Centurions host John Kear’s Bulldogs at the Leigh Sports Village. Both teams progressed to the sixth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup last weekend.

Last Time Out

Leigh welcomed Salford to the Sports Village and with both teams doing well in their respective leagues, the game was set up to be a cracker. It didn’t disappoint and it was the Centurions who went home with the brightest faces as they conquered the Red Devils 22-18. Theo Fages got the scoring underway for the visitors before Leigh replied in emphatic fashion with a try apiece for Tommy Goulden and Gregg McNally. Niall Evalds levelled things up before half-time for Salford, leaving the game firmly in the balance after 40 minutes. Evalds was the first to cross the whitewash in the second half too. It only took five minutes for the ever-present full-back to get back on the scoresheet but Leigh would have the final word with two tries in three minutes. Ryan Brierley and Jonathan Pownall both posted four pointers for the Championship high-flyers, and that was enough to win the game for Paul Rowley’s side. 

Batley Bulldogs played host to Kingstone Press League 1 outfit Swinton Lions. The Bulldogs didn’t have much trouble winning the match as they triumphed 46-14. However, Swinton took the lead through Chris Rothwell before Wayne Reittie, Brad Day, Cain Southernwood and Shaun Ainscough all crossed for the West Yorkshire side, giving the Bulldogs a handy advantage in the process. Stuart Littler replied for the Lions with the last try of the half. Debutant Jacob Morgan, Alistair Leak, Ainscough and Tom Thackray on two occasions, crossed the whitewash for the Bulldogs during the second half while Swinton’s lone try of the half came from Shaun Robinson.

Key Battle

Both Leigh and Batley possess very good forward packs, and that’s where the key battle will take place this Sunday. Tom Spencer and Jake Emmitt both started at prop for the match against Salford and they stood up to their opposite numbers, who came in the shape of Adrian Morley and Scott Taylor. For Batley, Championship stalwarts Keegan Hirst and Sean Hesketh both started in the prop forward positions, while they had a strong forward interchange with James Brown, Tom Thackray and Adam Gledhill all starting on the bench. Batley have been known to have a strong forward pack, and for a part-time side, they’ve got a pretty exceptional one this season. They’ll need to be on form to handle the powerhouses that Leigh have in their armoury, though.

Prediction

Leigh are having the time of their lives at the minute, with confidence at an extremely high level. Playing on home turf, they’ll be expecting a comfortable win, as will the bookies, but John Kear relishes the opportunities when his side are the underdogs. Can Kear pull out another masterstroke, this time against the unconquered Leigh? – Leigh by 28

London Broncos v Dewsbury Rams – Andrew Henderson’s London had a week off due to their early exit out of the Challenge Cup, this was while Dewsbury went through to the sixth round after a victory over Hunslet.

Last Time Out

London travelled to West Yorkshire to take on Bradford Bulls at the Provident Stadium. It didn’t turn out to be the best of trips for the Broncos as they are beaten 28-2 by James Lowes’ side. Jay Pitts and Adam O’Brien put Bradford 12-0 to the good before London got on the board via Wes Naiqama’s penalty goal. But, they’d be the only points that the visitors would post in the match as the Bulls took the game by the scruff of the neck, more so when Lee Gaskell went over minutes after the restart. The game was wrapped up when Chris Ulugia and Etu Uaisele both scored four pointers on what was another good day at the office for Bradford.

Dewsbury were looking for revenge at the South Leeds Stadium as they were defeated there earlier on in the league campaign. The Rams gained revenge with a 31-16 victory, and it was in no small part to a great performance with the boot from Kieran Hyde. Matthew Haggarty and Liam Mackay swapped scores in the opening quarter of the match before James Delaney and a penalty goal from Hyde put a bit of daylight between the sides going into half-time. Jason Crookes and Makali Aizue put Dewsbury further ahead with a try each after the break, but Luke Briscoe and Charlie Martin both added tries for Hunslet before the mini-comeback was halted by a drop-goal from Hyde. Aaron Brown scored the last try of the game with not much time to spare for Dewsbury, a job well done for Glenn Morrison and his men.

Key Battle

Brett Seymour has recently signed on loan for Dewsbury, which adds to the West Yorkshire side’s half-back options. Aaron Brown, a regular back-rower, played at stand-off against Hunslet and handled himself alright alongside Anthony Thackeray in the halves. Coach Morrison will have to make the decision whether to play Seymour with Thackeray or stick with the Brown-Thackeray combination against the Broncos this weekend. For London, Tom Gilmore and Oscar Thomas lined up in the key playmaking roles against Bradford. The Broncos have suffered an injury crisis while they’ve been in the Championship, and none more so in the halves as William Barthau picked up an injury before even pulling on a shirt, as well as Joe Keyes who had a few weeks on the sidelines after taking a knock against Sheffield in round two. Gilmore and Thomas will have to do a good job on Seymour, or Brown, and Thackeray if their team are to triumph.

Prediction

Despite their patchy away form, London have done well on home turf and have beaten teams they’ve expected to, and are expected to if they’re to make the top four come the end of the regular season. Dewsbury are another one of those teams that London have to get on top of, but the Rams come to Edgware after progression to the next round of the Challenge Cup and they’re sitting above the Broncos in the table by virtue of points difference at this moment in time. It’s set to be a good bout down south.. – London by 10 

Sheffield Eagles v Halifax – A battle between third and fourth in the Kingstone Press Championship. Sheffield Eagles welcome Halifax to the Keepmoat Stadium, the hosts have a four point advantage over Halifax on the table, can they make it six on Sunday? Both teams were knocked out of the Challenge Cup by Super League sides last week, despite spirited efforts.

Last Time Out

Sheffield Eagles played their first match in Sheffield since last season as Hull FC came to town, and the Airlie Birds were triumphant by 34-12. The Eagles made a mini-comeback in the second half, reducing the scoreline from 22-0 to 22-12 before FC notched two more tries to put the game beyond any doubt. Mark Minichiello and Mickey Paea scored Hull’s first two tries of the game within three minutes of themselves, typifying the forward power that the Humberside outfit have in their locker. Tom Lineham and Jamie Shaul also added four pointers before the first half came to its conclusion, Hull had a 22 point lead to ponder over going into the sheds. Job well done in the first 40 for Lee Radford’s men. Cory Aston and Menzie Yere spearheaded the Eagles back into contention with a try apiece. If Scott Turner’s disallowed try had been allowed, the score would more than likely have been 22-18 to Hull with 15 minutes remaining. The forward pass call from referee George Stokes knocked the wind out of the Eagles’ sails and this was obvious to see as Kirk Yeaman and Jordan Rankin both trundled in for the match’s final scores.

Halifax made the short trip across West Yorkshire to Wakefield last Friday night. The basement side of Super League scored the first try of the match via Richard Owen before James Saltonstall replied for the visitors. Owen bagged his brace for the Wildcats on the 20th minute, but Fax’ weren’t going away as Ben Heaton levelled proceedings. Daniel Smith got himself on the scoreboard to put Wakefield into the lead for the third time in the contest, Craig Hall popped over a penalty goal in the dying embers to extend the lead to two scores. Gareth Potts reduced the deficit to just two points after the restart, but the Wildcats had too much for Fax as the game went on and fatigue kicked in. Chris Riley, Hall and Danny Washbrook all crossed for James Webster’s men before Ian Kirke strolled over for a late brace to add a bit more gloss to the score.

Key Battle

Chris Taylor and Scott Murrell paired up in the halves against Wakefield, despite Taylor’s best position definitely being in the centres. Fax have recently acquired the services of Widnes half-back Danny Craven for the season so it’s to be expected that Murrell and Craven will be in the halves for the match. Craven has already played against the Eagles this season, for Whitehaven. He set up the Cumbrian’s only try against Sheffield at the Recreation Ground with a deft grubber which was pounced upon by Brett Seymour. For Sheffield, the question of ‘who’ll be starting in the halves?’ is pretty much up in the air. Kyle Briggs has retained his stand-off spot for the whole season but scrum-halves Dom Brambani and Cory Aston have been frequently swapped in and out of the team. The more inexperienced Aston has played in nine games in all competitions this season while Brambani has played seven. Whoever partners Briggs in the halves will need to do a good job with their kicking as it’s certain that Murrell will do so for Halifax.

Prediction

The Eagles have only lost one game on home turf this season, and that came against Leigh Centurions in round nine. Halifax are four points behind Sheffield in the table going into this match so a win is vital for them, because it’ll take a minimum of three games to catch up with the Eagles should they lose. Will the Eagles have enough in their locker to overturn Fax’ or will Richard Marshall’s men go back to West Yorkshire with the spoils? – Sheffield by 14

Whitehaven v Featherstone Rovers – Featherstone Rovers go up to Cumbria with the ambition of keeping their top four aim on track. Whitehaven have already suffered defeat to the Rovers already this season, in the Challenge Cup, so revenge would be sweet for James Coyle’s outfit.

Last Time Out

Whitehaven made the trip to Hunslet for round nine of the Kingstone Press Championship. Unfortunately for the Cumbrians, the journey back wasn’t full of smiles as they were downed 26-18 by the Hawks. However, Haven were 12-10 up at the break after converted tries from Richard Lepori and Rhodri Lloyd. Hunslet’s tries came from James Duckworth and Jack Lee. Shortly after the restart, Tyla Hepi scored to put an eight point barrier between Whitehaven and Hunslet but it’d be the hosts who had the final say as Myfaro Mvududu, George Flanagan and Jimmy Watson all crossed the whitewash to hand Haven their seventh loss of the season.

Featherstone went to North Wales to take on the Crusaders in the fifth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup. The Rovers won 38-12 at the Racecourse Ground and things got off to a good start when Gareth Moore and Andy Ellis both scored within the first ten minutes of the match. Jamie Dallimore replied for Crusaders but Will Sharp made sure there’d be a two score advantage at half-time for his side as the winger touched down. Tommy Johnson kept the hosts in the match after the break with a try on the 43rd minute but the half, and match overall, belonged to the Championship side. Ben Blackmore notched a brace while Reni Maitua and Alex Foster also went over the white line for Rovers.

Key Battle

Richard Lepori, Whitehaven’s Italian international full-back, will more than likely be coming up against Jy Hitchcox of Featherstone at the weekend. Both players were off-season signings for their respective clubs, with Lepori joining from Oldham and Hitchcox from the more exotic Wests Tigers in Australia. Hitchcox has settled in rather well at Featherstone, his no-nonsense running style is rather similar to that of winger Will Sharp. Lepori will come under some pressure in this match, being the last line of defence against a team who can break the defensive line as good as what Featherstone do, it’ll be a challenge for the former Oldham man.

Prediction

Featherstone have already gone up to Whitehaven this year and bagged a win, and they’ll be expecting to do the same this weekend. But it is still to be noted that Whitehaven can still pull a shock or two out of the bag on home turf, as London noticed in the opening rounds of the season. Rovers need a win to stay in contact with the top four, while Whitehaven could do with edging away from the relegation zone – Featherstone by 18

Workington Town v Hunslet Hawks – Workington go into the match two points, and one place, below Hunslet in the table. A win at the Zebra Claims Stadium would do just fine for Town while Hunslet will want to get back to winning ways after their Challenge Cup loss last week.

Last Time Out

Workington made the journey down to The Shay to take on Richard Marshall’s Halifax. The result was far from what Phil Veivers will have wanted as Town went down 38-6. The Cumbrians were 28-0 down at half-time and it’d take one very optimistic Workington fan to have held hope for the second half. It was Luke Ambler and Rikki Sherriffe who opened the first half scoring with a try each before James Saltonstall and Ben Heaton also added scores. Dane Manning rounded off the first half with a four pointer, adding more gloss to a satisfying lead for Fax. Perry Whiteley scored the first try of the second half, and Workington’s first for the match, on the 73rd minute before a late flurry of scores for Fax which came courtesy of Alex Brown and Ben Kaye.

Hunslet will have been hoping for the same result as the last time they played Dewsbury at the South Leeds Stadium. The Hawks recorded a victory in their first league match against the Rams but the same outcome didn’t come this time around as Glenn Morrison’s Dewsbury side returned to Tetley’s Stadium triumphant with a 31-16 scoreline. Matthew Haggarty and Liam Mackay both went over for Dewsbury and Hunslet’s first scores of the day before a James Delaney try and Kieran Hyde penalty goal put eight points between the sides at half-time. That lead was extended after the break with two Rams’ tries from Jason Crookes and Makali Aizue. Luke Briscoe and Charlie Martin both got on the scoresheet for Hunslet as the comeback was sparked into life but a Hyde drop goal really put the wind out of Hunslet’s sails.

Key Battle

The battle on the wings will be a good one this Sunday as James Duckworth and Richie Barnett (starters against Dewsbury last weekend) come up against Sam Forrester and Brett Carter (starters against Halifax a fortnight ago). All four players have great quality when they’re on form and three of the four were recent off-season signings. Duckworth and Barnett joined Hawks from Leeds and Keighley respectively while Forrester joined Workington from Maryport amateur club. All three have nailed down starting spots at their respective clubs and they’ll be wanting to play vital parts in their side gaining the two points this Sunday.

Prediction

Workington is a tough place to go and get a win from on the best of occasions but with Town going into this match two points behind Hunslet they’ll be targeting the two points more than ever this weekend. Hunslet will be wanting to further the gap between themselves and the teams below but it’s fair to say that this game on Sunday will be far from one-sided – Workington by 4

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