The Championship Chat: Round 3

With just the one postponement at the weekend (Whitehaven v Featherstone), there was still a lot left to talk about after round three of the 2016 Kingstone Press Championship. Let’s start with a surprise victory in Stalybridge.

Oldham get off the mark in impressive style

The newly promoted Roughyeds, under the stewardship of Scott Naylor, gained their first win of the Championship campaign with a very good 38-16 win over Dewsbury Rams. Hooker Gareth Owen and second-rower Danny Langtree starred with two tries each. Oldham were 24-0 up after the first 40 minutes and despite Dewsbury showing a bit of character in the early stages of the second half, the hosts held tight in defence and made sure there was no comeback from the Rams. After beating a West Yorkshire side on Sunday, the Roughyeds will be hoping to do the same again on Sunday when they take on Featherstone Rovers, who will be itching to get back to action after having an extended break.

Batley keep battling on home turf

An agonising two-point defeat to Featherstone in round two was quickly forgotten about as the Bulldogs picked up their second home win in as many matches against full-time opposition. Sheffield Eagles arrived at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium with an unblemished record but they returned to the steel city later on in the day following a 20-8 defeat. Batley had ex-Eagles Dominic Brambani and Alex Rowe to thank for great individual performances, while other players including James Brown and Chris Ulugia put in solid shifts. The Eagles were two points ahead at the interval but gritty defence from the Bulldogs in the second period gave them the upper hand and they did everything that was needed when attacking down the slope. Brambani scored two tries, one in each half, before an Alistair Leak four pointer as well as a Pat Walker penalty goal made sure the hosts kept hold of the spoils. Batley make the short journey to Halifax this weekend while Sheffield return to SHU Sports Park to play Swinton. The Bulldogs have quickly turned into the Championship‘s giant-killers in 2016.

Storming final quarter earns Leigh victory

For the lion’s share of Sunday’s match at the Leigh Sports Village, London Broncos looked likely to take away a very satisfying victory. Heading into the final 15 minutes with a 20-6 lead, even the most optimistic Centurions fan will have been struggling to see a way for their side to snatch victory. Two defeats after three games would be a disaster for Super League-seeking Leigh. But, following two tries in three minutes from Jamie Acton and Jake Emmitt respectively, the Centurions were back to within a couple of points of their southern counterparts and were smelling Broncos blood. A few moments after Emmitt’s score came the winner from Rangi Chase. The tricky halfback made sure he answered any critics with an important try, which got his team over the line against a very competitive London outfit who will go well under Andrew Henderson this year.

Halifax pull through the Cumbrian mud

Maybe not the most entertaining match of the weekend but one that stayed in the balance until late in the second half. Halifax bounced back from their round two defeat to Sheffield with a 20-0 victory over Workington Town at the Zebra Claims Stadium. In a match where only four tries were scored, Fax coach Richard Marshall will be happy that his side kept their hosts to a blank. Jake Eccleston and Ryan Maneely crossed the whitewash in the first half for the West Yorkshire side. The second half brought scores from forwards Luke Ambler and Dane Manning in the 68th and 78th minute respectively. Workington made a game of it but there was just no clinical edge to their play and that will be something coach Phil Veivers will be looking for his side to improve on in the coming weeks. The introduction of Jarrod Sammut cannot come quick enough for the Cumbrians.

Bradford keep unbeaten record

In the first match of the weekend, played on Saturday at Widnes’ Select Security Stadium, Bradford made sure their perfect start to the season carried over to week four as they got the better of Swinton 48-16. Off-season signing Kris Welham scored a hat-trick while Tom Olbison also helped himself to two tries as Bradford went past the Lions without any real danger. However, Swinton will take pride from a performance which saw them get over the whitewash on three occasions and they will always keep learning from games against the ‘big boys’ in the Championship. These aren’t the sort of games which will keep them in the division but putting in respectable performances always helps in the long run. 

Top try-scorers

5 – Lee Gaskell (Bradford)

4 – Steve Tyrer (Halifax)

4 – Sam Hopkins (Leigh)

4 – Josh Guzdek (Dewsbury)

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