Championship Round Three: Squad news, TV coverage & predictions

Josh McAllister
Championship ins and outs SWpix

Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Here is everything you need to know about Championship Round Three, including squad news, television coverage and our predictions.

Three teams maintain a 100% record heading into Round Three.

Toulouse sit at the top of the Championship table with a strong points difference, having run in 82 points and only conceding four so far in 2023.

Favourites to win promotion, Featherstone sit second and John Kear’s Widnes sit third, all undefeated so far.

Sheffield v Batley (Friday, 7:30pm)

There is some Friday night Championship action in Sheffield with the visit of Batley.

Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e has been named in Sheffield’s 21-man squad for the first time this season. 

Batley will be looking to bounce back from their somewhat-shock home defeat to Swinton last weekend. Both sides have one victory each so far in 2023.

Prediction: It’s going to be a competitive match, there’s no doubting that. I’ll tip Sheffield by eight.

Sheffield: Jones-Bishop, Welham Oakes, Thackeray, Douglas, Halafihi, Dickinson, Bower, J.Farrell, Hodgson, Gwaze, Wood, Broadbent, Muprhy, Hansen, Peachey, Liu, Sene-Lefao, Dawson-Jones, Laulu-Togaga’e, Aston.

Batley: Buchanan, Campbell, White, Woods, Leak, Hirst, Manning, Walshaw, Brown, Meadows, Kear, Ward, Blake, Lillycrop, Kibula, McGowan, Morton, Kaye, Flynn, Johnson, Reilly.

Toulouse v York (Saturday, 5pm)

Toulouse have won the last eight of the ten fixtures against York, who travel to France on Saturday. The last defeat for the Olympians dates back to 2013 as York won 30-28.

After missing last week’s victory over Newcastle, full-back Olly Ashall-Bott returns to the squad named by Sylvain Houles.

Half-back Ata Hingano could return for Andrew Henderson’s York after missing Monday’s victory over Bradford live on Viaplay Sports.

Knights captain Chris Clarkson and back-rower Ukuma Ta’ai return to the squad. Matty Marsh misses out through injury, while Josh Daley will serve his one-match suspension. 

Toulouse: Ashall-Bott, Rennie, Jussaume, Marcon, Ralph, Shorrocks, Belmas, Hansen, Stefani, Peyroux, Marion, Pelissier, Akauola, Bretherton, Pezet, Armitage, Richards, Brochon, Lima, Skoundri, Tropis.

York: Antrobus, Barnard, Brown, Clarkson, Dee, Edwards, Fitzsimmons, Glover, Harris, Harrison, Hingano, Jubb, Luke Kirby, Kirmon, Michael, Price, Ta’ai, Teanby, Thompson, Towse, Ward.

Prediction: It’s hard to see Toulouse losing many at home this season. There’s still plenty of improvement in York, but their forwards did perform well against Bradford on Monday. The hosts by 20.

Bradford v Widnes (Sunday, 3pm)

Following his new contract with the Championship side, former Hull forward Masi Matongo could make his first appearance for Bradford. 

Papua New Guinea international Keven Appo has been included once again, having missed the defeat to York at the LNER Community Stadium.

Bradford: Appo, Arundel, Baldwinson, Blackmore, Butler, England, Flanagan Jr, Flanagan Sr, Foggin-Johnston, Foster, Gill, Holmes, Lawford, Lilley, Matongo, Myers, Patton, Roby, Rogers, Thompson, Wallace.

Widnes: Tbc

Prediction: Another match that is set to be competitive with John Kear returning to his former club. Bradford weren’t very impressive against York, with lots for Mark Dunning to work on. Widnes themselves have a few major blows including Tom Gilmore and Jordan Johnstone, while Adam Lawton is expected to return. Widnes by 10.

Swinton v Barrow (Sunday, 3pm)

Having picked up their first win last weekend over Batley, Swinton have suffered several blows ahead of their fixture against Barrow.

Back-rower Gavin Rodden is set to miss out. Wales international Gavin Bennion misses out following an injury sustained against Newcastle on the opening weekend. Nick Gregson is also struggling, the club has confirmed. In addition, Allan Coleman has players Myles Harrop, Billy Brickhill, Richard Lepori and Jonny Openshaw on the sidelines.

Barrow coach Paul Crarey has confirmed the Raiders will be without their hooker Josh Wood for up to two months due to injury. Sam Brooks also misses out through injury.

Prediction: It sounds like Swinton are struggling with a few injuries. The Lions are undefeated in their last five home meetings with Barrow, but I’m tipping Raiders to break that hoodoo. Barrow by 14. 

Swinton: Abram, Badrock, Baker, Brogan, Burgess, Butt, Case, Cooper, Cox, Delaney, Eaves, Gibson, Hatton, Lloyd, Lowe, Olds, Parnaby, Romeo, Sambou, Spedding, Waterworth.

Barrow: Archer, Broadbent, Bulman, Burke, Carter, Corkill, Cresswell, Emslie, Evans, Gillam, Hopkins, Iaria, Johnston, Langtree, Sammut, Saunders, Shaw, Stack, Toal, Wells, Worthington.

Featherstone v Whitehaven (Sunday, 3pm)

Joey Leilua makes his return to Featherstone’s squad alongside forward John Davies. 

Whitehaven have brought in Wigan youngster Tom Forber on loan for a month, and are still without a win in 2023.

Featherstone: Briscoe, Hall, Gale, Ford, Dean, Kopczak, Jones, Taylor, Bussey, Wildie, Davies, Springer, Hardcastle, Cooper, Leilua, Fleming, Aekins, Cozza, Lagans, Yei, Evans.

Whitehaven: Freeman, Eccleston, Taylor, Teare, Dixon, McAvoy, Holliday, Lanksey, Aiye, Doran, Tabu, Singleton, Douglas, Bradley, O’Brien, Castle, Rourke, Spencer-Tonks, Ainley, Nsemba, Forber.

Prediction: Like Toulouse, it’s hard to see Featherstone losing many at home. Expect another big win here – Sean Long’s men by 34.

Halifax v London Broncos (Sunday, 3pm)

Castleford forward Daniel Smith has been named in Halifax’s 21-man squad for the visit of London Broncos. He joins on dual-registration.

Jacob Fairbank misses out due to concussion protocol while Ben Tibbs comes into contention after injury.

London registered their first points of the season last weekend with an away victory at Whitehaven. Previewing the fixture, boss Mike Eccles said: “We expect another tough game. Again, we don’t have a great record away to Halifax but last week proves this squad is capable of reversing those trends.

“It’s a great stadium and pitch to play rugby league on. Ultimately, we want to keep improving week on week.”

He continued: “Zach (Eckersley) picked up a bit of an ankle injury and had to come off last week. But he’s made a full recovery and is fine for the weekend. Harvie (Hill) and Ramon (Silva) our other Wigan loanees are fit too.”

Halifax: Calcott, Doro, Gee, Inman, Jouffret, Kavanagh, Keyes, King, Larroyer, Maher, McComb, Moor, Murray, Rawsthorne, Saltonstall, Smith, Tangata, Tibbs, Walmsley, Wood, Woodburn-Hall.

London: Albert, Bassett, Bienek, Davis, Eckersley, Grant, Hill, Horsman, Hoyes, B.Leyland, O.Leyland, Lovell, Macani, Monk, Natoli, Parata, Silva, Stock, Ulberg, Walker, Williams.

Prediction: It’s a battle of ninth versus tenth in the table, with London claiming the former. Both sides have picked up one win so far, and I’m going with Halifax to pick up their second. The Panthers by 16.

Keighley v Newcastle (Sunday, 3pm)

Keighley are still searching for their first points in the Championship following their promotion. Their team is yet to be announced.

Winger Gideon Boafo, back-rower pair Nathan Clemmitt and Jake Lightowler as well as Hull KR loanee prop Daniel Okoro continue to miss out due to injury for Newcastle.

University signings Max Flanagan and Evan Lawther could make their debuts for Thunder.

Keighley: Tbc

Newcastle: Johnson, Young, Walker, Clegg, Donaghy, Williams, J.Chapelhow, Davies, Clark, Foster, Gallagher, Bailey, Balmforth, T.Chapelhow, Clarke, Tuliatu, Lawther, Anderson, Moor, Flanagan, Walsh.

Prediction: This could be a high-scoring fixture. Luke Gale crossed for his and the Keighley’s first competitive try of 2023 against Widnes last Sunday, going on to score another. I’m going for Keighley to pick up their first win of 2023 here at home. Keighley by 12.

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