Summer Bash preview as the Championship hits Blackpool

While Super League eyes turn to the Nou Camp in Barcelona this weekend, a full programme of Championship fixtures heads to Bloomfield Road in Blackpool for the fifth year.

It kicks off on Saturday afternoon as heavyweights Toronto and Toulouse face-off for the second time this season.

In their first meeting, Toulouse stunned the Wolfpack for their only defeat of the season so far, coming from 16-6 down at half time to win 46-16 in front of 6,000 fans at the Stade Ernest Wallon.

Toulouse have won 10 of their last 11 games and are second in the Championship and could reduce the gap at the top to two points with a win here.

Swinton will be looking to replicate their win over Rochdale 12 months ago, which was their first win of the 2018 campaign.

They’re already off the mark in 2019, and beat the Hornets on Good Friday.

This game is likely to have an impact on the relegation battle, with both sides struggling for points and Rochdale looking to build under new coach Matt Calland.

Swinton captain Rhodri Lloyd told the club’s official website: “The lads are really looking forward to it. It’s a great occasion for fans but also for the players. It’s live on Sky and one of the biggest games of the year.

“Rochdale are a much improved side with a new coach who has brought new energy to the club, investing in local lads, so it’s going to be tough.

“I think it’s going to be an exciting derby, with both teams looking for a victory.”

One team without a win in the Summer Bash is Featherstone, who will be hoping to end that run on Saturday against York, playing in the Championship at Blackpool for the first time though they did feature in the League 1 Cup final at the event in 2016.

Featherstone’s recent signing from Bradford, Dane Chisholm, retains his place in the squad, while Luke Briscoe returns for Jorge Richardson.

Once upon a time, Bradford and Halifax were relative big hitters in Super League but now they’re both pushing for the play-offs in the Championship.

They meet in the showpiece game on Saturday evening in what is a dress rehearsal for their upcoming Challenge Cup quarter-final clash.

Bradford go in to it off the back of their fine win over Leeds last weekend, while Halifax are still trying to re-build following the departure of coach Richard Marshall.

Sunday’s action gets underway at 1pm as high-flying Sheffield take on Barrow.

The Eagles have exceeded all expectations so far and currently find themselves fourth in the table with eight wins from 12 and a game in hand on those around them, now confirmed to be played on May 31 at Widnes.

Barrow have struggled in this campaign so far, winning one and drawing another which leaves them in the relegation zone and only kept off the bottom by Rochdale.

Dewsbury and Batley are ever presents at the Bash, with the Rams enjoying three wins from four attempts so far, a record that current coach Lee Greenwood says goes out the window.

He told the club’s official website: “It is a massive game, it is similar to when we played them on Good Friday I think they were a point behind us if I remember rightly, so it was like a four pointer anyway regardless of it being a local derby.

“It is no difference this week other than they are a point in front of us. It is important for the league placing side of things, if Batley win it gets them clear a little bit and stops them worrying about relegation for a few weeks.

“Whereas if we can get the win it will relax us a little bit and it might put the pressure on Batley, but it is obviously a good one for the lads really, it is one they can get right up for and it is on Sky as well.

“When Batley and Dewsbury play each other I think the form book goes out of the window, it doesn’t matter whether one was top or one was bottom of the table. I have played in these games and I know what they are about, it doesn’t matter whether it is a friendly or a cup final, they are the same intensity on the pitch as in the stands.

“So I am not too fussed at looking at records, if we had lost the last ten in Blackpool then I would be saying ok let’s stop it or if we have a good record then I will be saying good let’s keep that going, it doesn’t really come in to team talks or thoughts.

“We know it will be a tough game, we were a bit bullied by Batley in the last game so we want to turn that around.”

Dewsbury will be looking to avenge the 20-8 defeat they suffered to the Bulldogs on Good Friday.

Rounding off the weekend are Leigh and Widnes, the two most recent Super League clubs in the line-up.

Both will take sizeable numbers of fans for what will be a big game, despite Widnes’ 12 point deduction seeing them well off the pace.

The Vikings got the better of John Duffy’s men when the sides met at the Halton Stadium on Good Friday, but they have lost two of their last three league games since that one.

All seven games will be televised live on Sky Sports.