Championship round-up: Rugby League in mourning over Batley youngster, cards aplenty at Swinton, Leigh avenge defeat to Widnes

James Messenger

Three sides confirmed their play-off places in Round 25 of the Betfred Championship. 

Table-topping Toronto extended their winning run to 19 matches with a routine 46-0 victory over basement side Rochdale at Lamport Stadium.

Matty Russell bagged a hat-trick, Gareth O’Brien and Chase Stanley grabbed two tries apiece, and Tom Olbison and Hakim Miloudi crossed, before the game was abandoned with six minutes remaining due to thunder and lightning in the surrounding area. Nevertheless, as more than 60 minutes had been played, the result stood.

Second-placed Toulouse also picked up a 46-0 win over Batley, but Saturday’s meeting was overshadowed by the tragic death of Archie Bruce, who was found in his hotel room this morning, just hours after making his debut for the Bulldogs.

All of this afternoon’s 3pm kick off’s observed a minute’s silence ahead of kick-off, while the RFL Benevolent Fund have created a JustGiving page in memory of the 20-year-old. Donations can be made HERE. In the match itself, the French side ran in eight tries, with half-back Stan Robin crossing twice.

Elsewhere, York secured their place in the top five with a 22-18 victory over Featherstone at Bootham Crescent.

Despite falling behind in the opening quarter to tries from Jack Render and Callum McLelland, tries from Will Oakes, Kris Brining, Graeme Horne and Joe Porter put the hosts in command. Alex Sutcliffe reduced the deficit to four points with two minutes remaining, but Rovers didn’t have enough time to cross again.

Leigh also made sure of a play-off place after avenging their 1895 Cup semi-final defeat to Widnes with a 34-22 victory at Leigh Sports Village.

Stefan Marsh (2) and Liam Hood both scored against their former club, while Adam Higson and Iain Thornley (2) also crossed for the Leythers. The Vikings responded with tries from youngsters Jayden Hatton and Olly Ashall-Bott, as well as a second-half double for Keanan Brand.

In the race for the final play-off place, Sheffield close the gap on Featherstone to just two points with an emphatic 44-18 over Barrow. 

Ryan Millar, Corey Makelim and Menzie Yere all crossed twice, while there were further scores for Aaron Brown and Josh Guzdek. The Raiders, now without a win in their last seven league games, must claim victory in both of their remaining fixtures and hope that Widnes lose their final two games if they are to somehow avoid the drop to League 1.

Swinton continued their impressive resurgence with an ill-tempered 32-12 victory over Halifax at Heywood Road.

Referee Steve Race had his work cut out, showing three red cards and two yellow cards over the course of the game. Having sent Rob Fairclough and Ed Barber to the sin-bin in the early stages, the referee was forced to show Barber a straight red later in the half for his part in a melee. Rhodri Lloyd and Steve Tyrer were also sent off late on in the second period, but the Lions had already secured victory after tries from Richard Lepori (2), Craig Mullen, Mike Butt, Matty Ashton and Chris Hankinson.

In the final game of the round, Bradford claimed a 34-10 victory over Dewsbury at the Tetley’s Stadium, the ground that will be shared between the two sides in 2020.

Steve Crossley, Matty Wildie, Ross Pelties, Elliot Minchella, Brandon Pickersgill and Ross Oakes all crossed for the visitors, with only Liam Johnson and Adam Ryder mustering a reply for the Rams.

Championship Round 25 results:

Toronto Wolfpack 46-0 Rochdale Hornets

Toulouse Olympique 46-0 Batley Bulldogs

Dewsbury Rams 10-34 Bradford Bulls

Leigh Centurions 34-22 Widnes Vikings

Swinton Lions 32-12 Halifax

York City Knights 22-18 Featherstone Rovers

Sheffield Eagles 44-18 Barrow Raiders