Championship return: London Broncos start bizarre trilogy in May

James Gordon
Championship 2023 Summer Bash

Picture by Allan McKenzie/

The Championship returns following two weekends off and London Broncos have the first of three trips to York in a month.

On Sunday, Mike Eccles takes his side to face the Knights in the league, knowing a win could see them leapfrog their opponents in the table and keep clinging to the coat tails of the play-off contenders.

After a home game with Barrow on May 13, London make the same trip north to face York in the Challenge Cup sixth round on the weekend of May 20/21.

A win in that game carries the prize of a quarter-final place in the Challenge Cup and a potential meeting with Super League opposition.

But either way, London will return to York for a third time in four weekends when they head to the Summer Bash, where they take on Toulouse.

Both meetings between London and York last season were decided by just two points, both in the Knights favour.

Former Broncos head coach Andrew Henderson will be taking on his former employers.

The current state of play

After nine rounds of the Championship, London and York find themselves with work to do having won just three games so far.

It means they are already four points off the play-offs.

Featherstone are out in front having been predictably dominant, winning nine from nine with a huge points difference of +318.

Toulouse suffered surprise defeats to Bradford and Sheffield and they sit second, above the Eagles, who are the surprise-package of the season with seven wins from nine.

Widnes are placed in fourth with six wins and three defeats, two of which came in the final minutes of the games against Bradford and Toulouse – losing both 14-12.

Then there is Halifax, Bradford and Batley, who host Widnes in the Monday night TV game, on 10 points.

Newly-promoted Keighley, now dealing with the loss of star off-season signing Luke Gale, are level on points with Whitehaven, and those two go head to head this weekend.

At the bottom, last season’s surprise package Barrow are struggling with just a win and a draw so far, the same record as basement boys Newcastle.

Swinton have probably performed better than their record of two wins and seven defeats suggests, and they have added several loan signings this week, including St Helens centre Ben Davies, Warrington prop Luke Thomas and former Super League half-back Jamie Ellis.

New recruits

The international break and a Challenge Cup weekend has provided several clubs with the opportunity to refresh and add to their squad.

Widnes are hoping to welcome Tom Gilmore back soon, and they have extended the loan deal of Zach Eckersley from Wigan after he scored four tries in his first two games for the club, as well as adding forward Jacob Jones from Leigh.

Bradford have boosted their forward pack with the arrival of ex-Catalans forward Jason Baitieri, as well as signing centre Connor Wynne on loan from Hull. Featherstone have shown they’re not resting on their laurels with the capture of Daniel Smith from Castleford and York have signed young Wakefield centre Oli Pratt.

Toulouse’s thin squad was expected to be an Achilles heel during the season, though a dual-registration partnership with Catalans was due to ease that. The Dragons have had injury concerns of their own that hasn’t helped, but this week Sylvain Houles will be able to call upon centre Mathieu Laguerre and hooker Ugo Tison for the game against Swinton.

That game kicks off the Championship weekend on Saturday, 3pm at Heywood Road.

On Sunday, Halifax travel to Newcastle and Barrow host Bradford as the two bottom sides try and get points to keep in touch with the rest, while leaders Featherstone take on third placed Sheffield.

The two previously mentioned matches between Whitehaven and Keighley, and York and London also take place on Sunday.

John Kear takes his Widnes side to former club Batley live on ViaPlay Sports on Monday night. The Bulldogs are believed to have resolved the issues that saw their last televised match moved to Dewsbury’s Flair Stadium at the eleventh hour.

Batley were Championship Grand Finalists last season, but were beaten at home by Widnes in that campaign.

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