Championship 1 Weekend Preview

Barrow Raiders v Gateshead Thunder (Friday, 3.00pm)

Barrow Raiders player-coach Darren Holt will miss Friday’s game after being given a one-match ban by the RFL disciplinary panel.

Winger Lee Haney also starts a two-match ban, but James Dandy and Jamie Butler could both return to first-team action.

Holt has urged his team to learn the lessons of last week’s 32-26 defeat at Oldham.

He said: “We either learn from that or it is going to be a very topsy-turvy season.”

Gateshead Thunder duo Paul Stamp and Mike Mitchell both face fitness tests before coach Kevin Neighbour finalises Gateshead’s team.

However, Neighbour’s options have been boosted by the news that Jason Payne and Tabua Cakacaka emerged unscathed from last week’s defeat against Whitehaven.

Neighbour said: “We dominated the last quarter against Whitehaven, and that’s pleasing in a lot of ways.

“My goal from the outset was to get the lads to be as competitive as they can be for as long as they can be. We’re now playing well for about 70 minutes of every game, and we’re heading in the right direction.”

He added: “I’ve been to Barrow plenty of times as a player, and it’s a very, very hard place to go. We’ll have to be on top of our game.”

 

Doncaster v London Skolars (Friday, 3.00pm)

Confident Doncaster coach Tony Miller has warned his side to be on their guard when they host London Skolars in Friday’s Co-operative Championship One clash.

The Skolars have already picked up four points this season, from a win and a bonus point, and look set to be the surprise package of 2012.

Now Miller, who is fully aware of London’s potential, is aiming to make sure his squad do not underestimate their opponents.

Miller said: “They could spring a few surprises this season. We’ve got to make sure we’re not one of them.”

Forwards Dean O’Loughlin and Nathan Powley both miss out due to suspensions, while Craig Fawcett and Dean Colton join Miller’s squad.

Skolars coach Joe Mbu has set his sights on a top four finish this year, but insists his squad will not get complacent following a decent start to the season.

Mbu said: “It hasn’t been a bad start for us. The lads are putting in some good performances, working hard and making sure we’re picking up some early points.”

 

Rochdale Hornets v Oldham (Friday, 1.00pm)

Bullish Rochdale Hornets coach John Stankevitch insists he is not fazed by Oldham’s 100 per cent start to the Co-operative Championship One season.

Stankevitch said: “I don’t buy into it. I’ve got the utmost respect for every team in this division, but three wins out of three means nothing to me. On our day we’re the best team in this division, without a doubt.

“There’s nobody in the Oldham team that I’d sign and put into our team. There’s nobody I’d take over the lads we’ve already got here.

“The journalists and bookies can come up with their odds, and according to the bookies we’re pencilled in to finish fifth or sixth, but we think we’re a pretty good team.”

Tony Stewart, Danny Davies and Dean Gorton will all be “ready to go”, according to Stankevitch, but Paul Crook (shoulder) is definitely ruled out.

Neil Roden is available for Oldham, although Danny Whitmore’s form could keep Roden sidelined. Valu Bentley will not feature after injuring his elbow in a recent reserves fixture.

Roughyeds coach Tony Benson said: “With the work the boys have put in I’m not surprised they’ve started well, but we are only three games in and there is a long way to go.

“In terms of the emotion of a derby, to us we’re just playing another game. It’s three points we’re after – nothing more. We’re so focused on ourselves and improving our performances that the emotion doesn’t come into it.”

 

Whitehaven v Workington Town (Friday, 3.00pm)

Whitehaven coach Don Gailer reckons Good Friday’s Cumbrian derby will be unlike any other game he has ever experienced.

Gailer said: “I love the rivalries, but what I’m seeing here is a bit more than a rivalry. Usually there’s a rivalry between teams, but this is a rivalry between towns. It’s different to anything I’ve ever come across before.

“When you add into that the fact we’re playing on a bank holiday, that will definitely add to the excitement of the game in front of a big crowd. We’re really looking forward to having Workington on our own ground.”

Full back Andreas Bauer looks set to miss out after straining a hamstring during the last five minutes of Whitehaven’s 30-18 win at Gateshead last week.

Gailer said: “We’ll certainly miss him. He’s probably been our best player for the last three weeks and he was head and shoulders above everyone last week. However, everyone else will be fit and looking forward to it.”

Matthew Tunstall (hamstring) is Workington’s only absentee as Town aim for a third win in four games to keep the pressure on league leaders Oldham.

Joint Workington coach Gary Charlton said: “The fans love having bragging rights over their neighbours, but for us it’s simply three points. It’s one game out of 18.

“I’ve played in a lot of derbies and coached in a few too, and it’s usually pretty tight. A bounce of the ball normally decides it.”

 

North Wales Crusaders v South Wales Scorpions (Monday, 5.00pm)

Christiaan Roets is North Wales Crusaders‘ biggest doubt as he struggles to overcome a hamstring problem ahead of the first all-Welsh professional rugby league clash.

Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths said: “This is the first game of its kind and another first for rugby league in Wales. We’ve got a habit of creating history as time goes on, and this match will be great for everybody concerned.

Both clubs are in their embryonic stages, but who knows where this could go in the years to come.”

Griffiths says ball retention is key to his side’s hopes of securing a first Co-operative Championship One victory.

When we’ve completed our sets this season, like we did against Toulouse, then we’ve been very, very good. We’ve got to respect the ball.”

Welsh international and former Crusaders star Geraint Davies is in line for his Scorpions debut after agreeing a deal to join the South Wales club.

South Wales Scorpions coach Dave Clark said: “The boys are really up for this. We need to keep in touch with the top four if we want to get promotion, so this is a very important one for us.

It’ll be a tasty environment and I’m sure the Crusaders fans will be out in force. We can’t wait.”