Featherstone recorded an ominous victory over Leigh as the new Championship season got underway at the weekend.
Rovers, minor premiers in each of the last three seasons, had the game all but in the bag at half time as they led 22-0, thanks to tries from Tom Hodson (2), Andrew Ellis and Kyle Briggs. Andy Kain‘s converted try stretched the lead further in the second half, before Martin Ridyard and Tommy Saxton exchanged scores, and Kain rounded the game off with his second try late on.
Swinton caused a stir when naming their squad on Friday when it included no fewer than nine players linked to former club Warrington. The Lions later revealed they had swooped to sign several of the Wolves on permanent deals, but it was to no avail, as they were beaten 14-10 at home by new boys Workington.
It was one of the players they have got on dual-registration from Warrington, James Laithwaite, that put Swinton in front, only for Workington’s on dual-reg star, Widnes’ Declan Hulme, to hit back straight away. Carl Forber‘s converted try on the hooter at the end of the first half had the Cumbrians 12-6 up at the break, and a Forber penalty shortly after the hour mark increased their lead. Martin Ainscough‘s try set up a frantic final 10 minutes but Town held on for victory.
There were mixed results for the other Cumbrian teams, both returning to the Championship following promotion, as Whitehaven beat York 32-22 and Barrow were comprehensively beaten 42-12 by Hunslet.
The game at the Recre was locked at 14-12 with less than 15 minutes left, before a burst of three tries in seven minutes helped Whitehaven home. Chris Fleming, Jessie Joe-Parker and Paul Cullnean scored the decisive tries, although York at least earned themselves a bonus point with two late tries from Hull dual-reg man Tom Lineham.
Hunslet got themselves off to a flyer against the Raiders, with dual-registered Leeds star Jimmy Keinhorst scoring twice on his Hawks debut. There were tries for Danny Grimshaw (2), Tommy Haughey, Steve Lewis, Luke Helliwell and David Clayton.
The fourth new team, Championship 1 winners Doncaster, went down 22-16 to Dewsbury in a hard-fought encounter at the Keepmoat Stadium. The Rams led 18-6 inside half an hour thanks to Adam O’Brien‘s brace and an Aaron Brown score. Ben Cunnur‘s try 12 minutes after half time brought the Dons within eight points, but Brown’s second stretched the Rams’ lead once again, and they secured the three points despite Chris Spurr’s score.
Batley showed that they are likely to be in the mix for honours this season with a confident 42-10 win over Keighley. Miles Greenwood (2) and Ben Black had the Bulldogs off to a prolific start inside the first 13 minutes, and they led 24-4 at the break. Greenwood wrapped up a hat-trick in the second half, as the Bulldogs consistently found the line to record a win.
On Thursday, Halifax kicked off the season with an 18-10 defeat of champions Sheffield at The Shay.
Next week’s games: Sheffield v Batley, Barrow v Doncaster, Keighley v Whitehaven, Leigh v Hunslet, Workington v Halifax, York v Swinton, Dewsbury v Featherstone