Championship, Round 11 Preview
Round 11 in the Betfred Championship sees the table’s top four sides all on the road, as Toronto, Toulouse, Featherstone and London face potentially tricky ties away from home soil.
Here’s our preview of all the action to come this weekend from the second tier, thanks to William Hill in 2018.
Rochdale Hornets vs London Broncos (Fri, 7:45pm)
A fortnight ago, London were flying high at the top of the table as the undefeated league leaders.
After three straight defeats, London are now languishing in fourth place and could fall out of the Qualifiers spots if they suffer another defeat at Rochdale Hornets on Friday evening.
Their latest loss came away to Halifax on Sunday as a late first-half flurry of tries saw them blown away despite leading the contest.
The Broncos face one of only three sides with a worse recent run of form as they take on a Rochdale side who’ve lost their last four matches, losing their previous two by an aggregate score of 111-10 in defeats by Featherstone and Leigh.
Their is positives for the Hornets though as new recruit Taylor Welch, a former United States international full-back, is set to make his debut for the club after joining until the end of the season earlier this week.
London thrashed Rochdale 58-18 at the Crown Oil Arena in the last meeting between these two sides, with Jarrod Sammut scoring 26 points, and despite their recent struggles, the capital club will be strong favourites for another comfortable victory.
Batley Bulldogs vs Toulouse (Sat, 3pm)
Toulouse bounced back from their Easter defeat to Toronto with a convincing victory over Barrow Raiders and will be aiming for back-to-back wins when they visit Mount Pleasant on Saturday.
The French side won 50-4 against Barrow at the Stade Ernest Argeles to maintain their position in second and establish themselves as the division’s top-scorers.
Toulouse coach Sylvain Houles may have backs Paul Macron and Bastien Ader back to call on after missing last week’s win over Barrow with minor hamstring and ankle injuries respectively.
Batley suffered a defeat to Toronto last week but their spirited display saw them edged out 26-18 having led at the half-time break.
The Bulldogs have struggled when stepping to face full-time opposition but as shown in last week’s defeat gaining victory over Toulouse may prove to be a step too far.
Barrow Raiders vs Featherstone Rovers (Sun, 3pm)
Third-placed Featherstone Rovers will be aiming for a third successive win when they face a tough trip to Craven Park to taken on Barrow Raiders.
After Easter Monday’s 42-0 win over Rochdale, Featherstone returned to the LD Nutrtition Stadium to record a convincing 46-18 victory against Dewsbury, with winger Luke Briscoe scoring his 20th try in just his 11th season appearance.
— Featherstone Rovers (@FevRovers) April 9, 2018
The Rovers will be able to call upon Castleford loanee forward Mitch Clark, who resigned for the club this week after a short stint back with his parent club, although they’ll be without suspended centre Josh Hardcastle.
A trip to Cumbria will provide a stern test for Featherstone though, given that Barrow haven’t lost a competitive home match on the last 30 occasions when they’ve played a Craven Park.
It’s an ever more so impressive feat considering that the Raiders have taken points from full-time sides Toronto Wolfpack and Leigh Centurions on home soil this year.
Given Barrow’s remarkable home form, it’s likely to be a competitive affair on Sunday afternoon although Featherstone’s recent form sees them enter the contest as the rightful favourites.
Dewsbury Rams vs Toronto Wolfpack (Sun, 3pm)
The Championship’s form team are league leaders Toronto Wolfpack who continue to grind out results during their block of away fixtures.
Toronto earned a seventh straight victory with a 26-18 win at Batley last weekend – their fourth by a margin of less than ten points – as they continue to pick up maximum points despite not being at their free-scoring best.
REMINDER- Rams fans check out all the details for our upcoming game against @TOwolfpack on the 15th April. Don’t forget we have some amazing offers on for the game and cut admission prices too. #UTR #TRANSATLANTICRAMPAGEhttps://t.co/gs5BSYTrLf
— Dewsbury Rams 🐑 (@DewsburyRams) April 6, 2018
Their positive team news for the Wolfpack as hooker Bob Beswick and winger Adam Higson are in line for recalls after respective knee and groin injuries, although back rowers Andrew Dixon and Cory Paterson remain side-lined.
Hosts Dewsbury have lost their last five in all competitions, but they’ve been making more encouraging noises off the field in the build up to this historic fixture.
The Rams are offering adult season ticket holders to bring a friend along for free, Super League and Championship season ticket holders admission for £5 and free entry for Canadian passport holders (see further details here).
Hopefully we’ll see a large crowd at the Tetley’s Stadium, but it seems likely that Rams fans will be watching another victory for table toppers Toronto.
Halifax vs Swinton Lions (Sun, 3pm)
Halifax were the big winners of round ten, defeating fourth-placed London Broncos 26-16 at the Shay to move ever closer to a return to the top four positions.
That was Fax’s fourth league win from five home matches this season and they’re back on home soil on Sunday as they host bottom side Swinton Lions.
As coach Richard Marshall stressed post-match, his side can’t afford to be complacent this weekend, particularly so given Swinton’s recent record against Halifax.
The Lions have won three of their last five against Fax, including a dramatic 13-12 win in the most recent meeting back in June as well as a 38-35 victory at the Shay two years this week.
Swinton remain without a win from ten matches this season although results have slightly picked up as of late as they earned a draw at Barrow and only a late Simon Brown drop goal denied them another point as they lost 19-18 to Sheffield last time out.
Lions coach Stuart Littler could hand a debut to teenage German international half-back Brad Billsborough who joined from Whitehaven this week.
On paper, a comfortable Halifax win would be expected, but recent meetings between the two sides should provide evidence that nothing is given in rugby league.
Sheffield Eagles vs Leigh Centurions (Sun, 3pm)
The Leigh revival continues to run at full speed and last week’s 68-10 thrashing of Rochdale saw them earn a fifth straight win for the first time since 2016.
The 68-points Leigh scored at the LSV last weekend was the joint-highest score they’ve posted since a 72-6 victory over Hunslet back in July 2015 and the victory over the Hornets saw them move to within just two points of the top four.
Centurions interim coach Kieron Purtell remains without prop Paterika Vaivai and Daniel Mortimer although backs Matty Dawson-Jones and Peter Mata’utia look set for returns after serving their one-match suspensions against Rochdale.
Meanwhile, hosts Sheffield have picked up a couple of crucial wins in their last three matches against Rochdale and Swinton to move them out of the bottom two, although a victory over a resurgent Leigh would seem a step too far.
The Eagles remain without suspended centre Joshua Toole whilst Nabil Djalout is a long-term absentee after picking up an Achilles injury against Dewsbury.
Six consecutive wins for Leigh look likely to be forthcoming this weekend and, if results go there way, a step closer to a place in the Qualifiers positions.
Full list of matches
Rochdale Hornets vs London Broncos (Friday, 7:45pm)
Batley Bulldogs vs Toulouse Olympique (Saturday, 3pm)
Barrow Raiders vs Featherstone Rovers (Sunday, 3pm)
Dewsbury Rams vs Toronto Wolfpack (Sunday, 3pm)
Halifax vs Swinton Lions (Sunday, 3pm)
Sheffield Eagles vs Leigh Centurions (Sunday, 3pm)