Championship round-up: York into second, Bradford stun Toulouse, Ah Van scores twice on Widnes return

There were yet more twists and turns at both ends of the table in round 20 of the Betfred Championship. 

Toronto kept their 10 point buffer at the summit of the Championship table after easing to a 34-12 victory over Halifax at the Lamport Stadium.

In a game that was not shown on Sky Sports for ‘logistical reasons’, the Wolfpack raced into a 28-0 lead thanks to doubles from Liam Kay and Gareth O’Brien, plus a further score from Andy Ackers. Liam Cooper and Ben Johnston responded for Fax, but Tom Olbison rounded off the scoring three minutes from time.

York jumped above Toulouse into second spot in the table after securing a narrow 23-16 victory away at Sheffield. 

The Knights picked up their fourth win in a row on Friday thanks to a first-half score from Jason Bass and second-half tries from loanee Cameron Scott, Marcus Stock and Will Oakes. Ben Blackmore, Anthony Thackeray and Oliver Davies crossed for the Eagles, but they remain outside of the top five after their latest result.

Toulouse slumped to their second home defeat in as many outings at the Stade Ernest Argeles, this time agonisingly falling 26-24 to fellow promotion hopefuls Bradford.

In a game where the lead changed hands on five occasions, John Kear’s side eventually found the winning try through Matty Wildie 11 minutes from time. After a slow start, the French side had led thanks to Joe Bretherton, Anthony Marion and Stan Robin, but Ross Oakes and Brandon Pickersgill crossed early in the second half for the Bulls, who jump into sixth with victory.

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In the standout game of the round, Featherstone jumped above Leigh into fourth with a 24-20 victory at the LD Nutrition Stadium.

Kicking proved to be the difference between the two sides, with the Rovers converting all four tries compared to the Centurions’ 50% conversion rate. Rovers found themselves down at the break as Bradley Day and Luke Briscoe’s tries were cancelled out by Cory Paterson (2) and Liam Forsyth. Dane Chisholm and Josh Walters crossed before the hour mark for the hosts, and although Forsyth got his second, it wasn’t enough for John Duffy, who suffered defeat on his return to his former club.

Elsewhere, Widnes took a huge step towards gaining Championship safety after a strong second-half showing saw them comfortably beat basement side Rochdale 40-12.

Jack Owens bagged a hat-trick and added four conversions for a 20-point haul, while Patrick Ah Van scored twice on his second debut. Olly Ashall-Bott scored on his return from injury, while there were further scores for Lloyd Roby and Danny Craven. The Hornets only trailed 12-6 at the break after Kev Brown’s first half try, but Callum Marriott’s score rounded off proceedings and came too late for the visitors.

Dewsbury ran out triumphant in the other game with significant relegation permutations, toppling Barrow 40-26 at the Tetley’s Stadium.

The Raiders made a blistering start and raced into a 10-0 advantage after as many minutes, Wartovo Puara and Deon Cross scoring. They even led 20-10 early in the second half, but the hosts scored four times in 18 minutes through Owen Trout, Adam Ryder, Paul Sykes and Michael Knowles to take control. Tee Ritson secured a brace with five minutes remaining, but Conor McGrath’s second of the game on 78 minutes wrapped up victory for the Rams.

In the final game of the round, Swinton edged Barrow 20-18 to pick up their third win in four games.

Both sides scored three converted tries, but a penalty goal by Jack Hansen midway through the first half proved to be pivotal. Rhodri Lloyd, Gavin Bennion and Lewis Hatton all crossed for the Lions, who are now four points above the relegation places. Paul Brearley, Adam Gledhill and Niall Walker crossed for Batley, but it wasn’t enough to prevent them from suffering a fifth defeat in a row in the league.

Championship Round 20 results:

Sheffield Eagles 16-23 York City Knights

Toronto Wolfpack 34-12 Halifax

Toulouse Olympique 24-26 Bradford Bulls

Dewsbury Rams 40-26 Barrow Raiders

Featherstone Rovers 24-20 Leigh Centurions

Swinton Lions 20-18 Batley Bulldogs

Widnes Vikings 40-12 Rochdale Hornets

About James Messenger 216 Articles
20-year-old Sports Journalism graduate from the University of Chester. Freelance writer for Love Rugby League, Tribe Sports and others. Also part of the Marketing and Communications team at the Cheshire FA.Twitter: @J_M_Messenger