Date: Sunday 14th June
Venue: The Rock, Wrexham
North Wales Crusaders will be looking to break into the top four on Sunday with a victory against Rochdale Hornets at the Rock in their Kingstone Press League 1 fixture.
Crusaders pulled off an impressive away victory against Oldham last week to move within one point of their opponents who currently sit in second.
Coach Anthony Murray was impressed by how his side became the first team to beat the Rougheyds at Whitebank Stadium this season in a 38-28 victory.
“It was a great win for us last week considering Oldham might have gone top, so there was a lot at stake for both teams,” said Murray. “Fortunately for us we came out on the right side of the result.”
Murray will be without Gary Middlehurst, Alex Thompson and Stuart Reardon with Warrington’s Kevin Penny unlikely to star after picking up a knock in last week’s win over Oldham. He will be boosted by the return of Scott Turner and Sam Peters though.
Their coach will also be hoping they can put their inconsistencies behind them as they haven’t been able to string together many back-to-back performances this year.
“Rochdale are another in-form team and are playing really well. We seem to have a habit of pulling off a really good result and then not playing well the week after so we’re looking for a little bit of consistency in our performance this week and we really need to back the Oldham performance up.”
Rochdale were far from their best last week as they were beaten at Featherstone Rovers’ Big Fellas Stadium by York City Knights, after a poor first half performance left them too much to do in the second period.
Ian Talbot was disappointed with his side’s first 40 minutes as he knows they are a lot better than what they showed against the Knights.
“We went in with a bit of a depleted side but I still thought we had enough to win the game,” he said. “The first half performance was very poor; we improved in the second half but left ourselves too much to do.”
His backline woes continue as he is still without Dale Bloomfield, Gaz Langley, Mike Ratu and experienced skipper Wayne English. St Helens have recalled winger Matty Dawson also but lee Paterson and Dave Hull could be available for this crucial top four clash.
Talbot knows that he is up against a top team and will be hoping there won’t be a repeat of their iPro Sport Cup defeat against North Wales at the beginning of the year.
“North Wales are one of the best sides in the competition so we’ll be up against it. They taught us a lesson when we went to their place in the cup so we’ll have to be at our best.”
Prediction: Rochdale Hornets by 8 points.