Championship 1 Weekend Preview

Only Oldham and Barrow take 100% records in to the third round of Championship 1 this weekend.


Doncaster v South Wales Scorpions (Sun, 3.00pm)

Doncaster coach Tony Miller hopes to be boosted by the returns of Paul Cooke and Dean Colton for Sunday’s game with South Wales Scorpions.

Former Super League star Cooke missed last week’s Challenge Cup fixture with an Achilles problem, while Colton was ruled out with a groin strain.

Nathan Mossop (shoulder) faces a late fitness test before Scorpions coach Dave Clark can settle his team to travel to Doncaster.

But Clark’s squad will definitely include Alan Pope, who missed last week’s 24-22 win at Wath Brow after his wife gave birth.

Clark said: “It’s going to be a huge challenge for us at Doncaster. We need a good performance, and if we can get to a completion rate like we did against Wath Brow, when we were up to 80 per cent, then we’ll compete well.

“Doncaster are looking at promotion and finishing in the top four. If you look at the personnel they’ve got, they’ve got a wealth of experience.

Paul Cooke is an outstanding player, while Mike Emmett is very strong and runs well from dummy half. There are some big tests for us right across the field. We’ll have to be at our best.”


Gateshead Thunder v Whitehaven (Sun, 3.00pm)

Jason Payne could be set for his return to action as Gateshead Thunder coach Kevin Neighbour searches for a first win of the Co-operative Championship One campaign.

Neighbour could be further boosted by the return of Ryan McBride, who has been able to “step up in training” and “might have a chance for Sunday”, according to the Thunder coach.

However, Tabua Cakacaka remains a fortnight away from making his own return to first team duties.

Neighbour said: “We played Whitehaven in the Northern Rail Cup and they’re a traditional Whitehaven side – they’re fairly big in the middle, and they’re very happy to shift the ball around.”

Haven coach Don Gailer has warned his squad not to underestimate the threat Gateshead pose.

He said: “They’ve gone close a couple of times. Sometimes you’ve only got to win one game to turn things around, and they knocked off York Acorn last week.

“They’ll be a lot better than they were when we met earlier in the year.”

Gailer will check on the fitness of two players suffering from flu before finalising his squad, although he is keeping the identity of the mystery duo close to his chest.


North Wales Crusaders v Rochdale Hornets (Sun, 2.30pm)

Welsh international Christian Roets faces a late fitness test on a thigh problem before North Wales Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths finalises his squad to face Rochdale Hornets.

However, Kurt Haggerty and Gareth Frodsham are expected to make their first North Wales appearances after joining the club on dual-registration deals from Widnes and Batley.

Griffiths said: “Our attitude was spot-on last week against Toulouse, and it will need to be again when we face Rochdale.

“I’ve watched them on DVD and they’re a very capable outfit with good players in key positions.

“They’re well marshalled by guys like Steven Roper, while Gary Middlehurst is always a threat.”

Rochdale coach John Stankevitch released seven players on Monday, including Craig Johnson and Danny Pyke, who both played against East Hull in the Carnegie Challenge Cup.

Stankevitch said: “In the short term I’m not looking to bring anybody else in. We expect to have Stephen Bannister back this week, as well as Wayne English and Mark Hobson.”

Danny Davies (whiplash) is also doubtful after being involved in a road accident.

Stankevitch added: “If we get beat, we’ll have been beaten by the better team on the day because we’re taking a strong side to Wrexham.”


Oldham v Barrow Raiders (Sun, 3.00pm)

John Gillam remains sidelined with a toe injury and Chris Murphy (knee) is also doubtful, but Oldham coach Tony Benson expects to have an otherwise full-strength squad for Sunday’s fixture with Barrow Raiders.

The top-of-the-table Co-operative Championship One clash will bring to an end at least one of the only two 100 per cent records in the division.

And Benson believes his men are ready for the step up in intensity.

He said: “It’s first versus second, and it’s going to give us both an idea of where we’re at.

“Barrow’s attack is pretty formidable, and they score tries from all over the field.

“Your defence has got to be pretty good, and I think at this stage ours is. We’re ready for a game like this.”

Raiders will arrive in Oldham with plenty of confidence, having last week defeated French high-fliers Lezignan in the Carnegie Challenge Cup.

 Coach Darren Holt, who is hoping to have at two players return from injury on Sunday, said: “We had a 100 per cent completion rate in the second half (against Lezignan), which is virtually unheard of in rugby league, so credit to all the lads on the pitch.”


Workington Town v London Skolars (Sun, 2.00pm)

Workington Town are set to include Jarrad Stack in their squad for Sunday’s Co-operative Championship One fixture with London Skolars.

However, Peter Lupton is still another week away from returning to first team action.

Town suffered a 22-6 defeat in last week’s Carnegie Challenge Cup clash with Batley, but joint coach Gary Charlton will not be using that as an excuse on Sunday.

 He said: “We’ve got to dust ourselves down and train well.

“It’s going to be a tough game against London, but I expect a good performance resulting in three points.”

Skolars’ coach Joe Mbu has praised his side’s “determination” following their 43-26 defeat against Leigh.

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