Kingstone Press Championship Round 6 Preview

Saturday..

Toulouse Olympique v Swinton Lions – Toulouse Olympique will return to State Ernest Argeles in hope of working upon their first away win of the season against Halifax last Sunday. The monkey is off their back although in controversial circumstances with Greg White’s try circulating around social media this week. Meanwhile, Swinton Lions came close to upsetting Batley Bulldogs at the weekend but were unable to keep hold of their lead which they had from the fourth minute till the 72nd.

Last Time Out

Toulouse Olympique’s form away from home in the Championship has been questioned since their promotion but they finally picked up their first victory on the road in round five. The French side beat Halifax 12-10 at the MBi Shay but it wasn’t without a fair bit of drama. Tony Maurel kicked the winning points four minutes from time but the full story involved Greg White’s first try of the game, which really angered the home fans. Steve Tyrer opened the scoring with a try after six minutes, which he duly converted. White responded with a try of his own as the referee adjudged that he got downward pressure on a grubber, a decision that left many fans bewildered. Maurel levelled matters with the extras. Tyrer regained Halifax’s lead with a penalty before Bastien Ader touched down for Toulouse’s second try of the afternoon. The visitors went into half-time 10-8 up and that lead stayed with them until the 66th minute when Tyrer kicked another goal. At 10-10, the game was ebbing and flowing but when Toulouse got a penalty on the touchline, 35 metres from goal, Maurel snatched at the opportunity to win the match. The full-back, who is currently filling in for regular number one and goal-kicker Mark Kheirallah, guided the ball between the sticks. A big win for Sylvain Houles’ men.

Swinton Lions put in a fine battle against Batley Bulldogs at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium but were cruelly denied any share of the spoils as the West Yorkshire club came out 22-18 winners. The Lions were in front for well over an hour but Batley stole the victory thanks to braces from Dave Scott and Macauley Hallet. Shaun Robinson and Jack Murphy both touched down for Swinton to get the visitors off to a great start before Scott replied with the first of his two tries. Only one conversion was successful for the Lions but Chris Atkin made amends with a penalty goal to send his side into half-time 12-6 ahead. Andy Thornley extended Swinton’s advantage in the early stages of the second period and with Atkin converting, John Duffy’s side were in a good place. However, Hallett added his first try before the hour mark and then Scott touched down to cut the deficit to just two points. In awful conditions at the ‘Mount’, the Bulldogs crossed for the decisive score through former Lion Hallett, who was part of a lethal combination with Liam Marshall last year for the Heywood Road club. Southernwood kicked a penalty with two minutes remaining to kill some of the clock.

Key Battle

Action around the ruck could prove to be vital at the weekend and Anthony Marion was the dummy-half for Toulouse against Halifax at the weekend, with Mourad Kriouache coming off the bench. Neither player has scored a try for the French side this season while Rhys Bentley, who was named as the club’s number nine when the squad numbers were released, has only made one appearance but did cross the whitewash in that game. Kriouache can also cover the halves so there is a bit of choice for coach Sylvain Houles if he wants to reshuffle the team mid-game. Swinton’s Sean Kenny has been an ever present so far this year after joining in the off-season and now the former Salford dummy-half has a quality back-up in Anthony Nicholson. Nicholson played his first game of the year at the weekend against former club Batley and he will provide spark from the play-the-ball and he has the ability to really punish teams. It should be a good battle at the weekend as Swinton look to become the first team to come away from Toulouse with a victory.

Prediction

After convincing victories against Batley and Dewsbury on home turf, Toulouse will be looking to put Swinton on that list when they visit on Saturday. Olympique have been tipped by some to launch a strong challenge for a top four spot this season and they will need to keep picking up results at home if they are to do that. Swinton have never been afraid to get their hands dirty and if Toulouse try to play rough, they should be able to combat that easily. Whether they can keep tabs on the likes of Johnathon Ford, Stan Robin and Tony Maurel is another matter altogether – Toulouse by 18

Sunday..

Bradford Bulls v Batley Bulldogs – Bradford Bulls face a tough test this weekend as they take on Batley Bulldogs at the Provident Stadium. Leigh Beattie’s men were taught a harsh lesson against London Broncos in round five while Batley slugged it out in the mud to come out 22-18 winners over Swinton Lions.

Last Time Out

Bradford Bulls lost 42-12 against London Broncos at Trailfinders Sports Ground. The Bulls had a mountain to climb from half-time onwards as they went into the sheds 30-6 down. Alex Walker and Elliot Kear both touched down to get London on the board before Kevin Larroyer crossed for the Bulls. Three tries in the last 15 minutes put the hosts in a comfortable position heading into the second half. Matt Garside registered a brace either side of a William Barthau try as London embraced the hailstorm both teams had to endure. The second period was a more even affair to start off with, as the first try came on 57 minutes through Bradford’s Colton Roche. Oscar Thomas cut the deficit to three scores at 30-12 with the conversion but the Bulls failed to score any more points from there on in as London saw the game out while scoring twice. Sammut kicked a penalty before notching a four pointer of his own to keep up his great try-scoring form. Kieran Dixon bagged the final score of the contest to round off a good performance by the Broncos, and a day to forget for Bradford.

Batley Bulldogs were made to fight for their victory against Swinton Lions at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium. Matt Diskin’s side came back from 18-6 down to score 16 points without reply to get over the winning line. Shaun Robinson and Jack Murphy both touched down for Swinton to get the visitors off to a flyer before Dave Scott registered his first try of the afternoon. The Lions’ lead was extended by Chris Atkin who kicked a penalty goal to give Swinton a 12-6 lead at half-time. Andy Thornley was next over the try-line for the visitors on 42 minutes and John Duffy’s men looked to be in good shape. Another conversion from Atkin furthered his side’s lead but that proved to be their final scoring act as Batley showed great grit and determination to overturn the deficit. Scott and former Swinton centre Macauley Hallett both completed their braces before Cain Southernwood kicked a penalty goal in the last minute to seal the win.

Key Battle

James Mendeika and Ross Oakes were the centres for Bradford Bulls against London in Ealing last weekend but neither could get on the scoresheet. Going up against the likes of Ben Hellewell and Adrian Purtell is never an easy task and this week will see the pair face Sam Smeaton and Macauley Hallett, if last week’s team stays the same. Hallett’s second half brace against his former side was timed to perfection as his contribution – alongside that of full-back Dave Scott – gained the Bulldogs a great win against Swinton. Smeaton is a solid presence in the Bulldogs camp and brings a brilliant defensive game to the table, something that would go a long way to securing Batley’s place in the top four this season. If it’s a dry track at Odsal this weekend, expect the centres to get a lot of the ball as both teams will want to play an expansive and entertaining game.

Prediction

Batley coach Matt Diskin will be hoping for a successful return to the Provident Stadium after leaving his assistant role last season. The Bulldogs have the potential to flourish once again, more so with their powerful forwards who can also provide that little bit of skill too. Dane Manning and Joel Farrell were picked out as two exceptional signings and they’re proving their worth already. Bradford have been adding to their squad since the start of the season and they will be aiming to pick up a good number of wins on home turf to try and claw back their points deduction. However, it will be hard to get one over the Bulldogs who can grind out victories when they need to – Batley by 16

Dewsbury Rams v Hull Kingston Rovers – After their game with Oldham was called off last weekend, Dewsbury Rams will be raring to go on Sunday as they welcome Hull Kingston Rovers to the Tetley’s Stadium. Dewsbury have lost all four league matches in 2017 but coach Glenn Morrison will still be optimistic that his side can get out of the tough situation they currently find themselves in. Hull KR beat Sheffield Eagles at KCOM Craven Park last time out to make it five wins from as many games.

Last Time Out

The Rams’ last match came in round four when they were beaten 20-6 by London Broncos at Tetley’s Stadium. Hamish Barnes scored Dewsbury’s only try of the game while Junior Roqica, Jarrod Sammut and Alex Walker all bagged four pointers for the Broncos. Sammut also kicked a penalty for the capital club who look in good nick this year following good signings made in the off-season by coach Andrew Henderson. Meanwhile, Dewsbury will be getting a bit anxious as they are still left winless four games in.

Hull Kingston Rovers posted a 50-10 victory over Sheffield Eagles to go two points clear at the top of the Championship table following Featherstone’s defeat to Rochdale. The Robins led 18-10 at the break following tries from James Donaldson, Ben Cockayne and Andrew Heffernan. Duane Straugheir and Garry Lo were the try-scorers for the Eagles, who had Menzie Yere sin-binned in the final minute of the half. With a man advantage, Hull KR extended their lead in the second period thanks to scores from Thomas Minns and Adam Quinlan. Once the Eagles returned to their full complement, things just seemed to get better for the hosts as they finished the tie with three more tries to their name. Chris Clarkson, Jordan Abdull and Donaldson all touched down before Jamie Ellis added a penalty goal to bring his side to the 50 point mark.

Key Battle

Dewsbury’s front-row will have to contend with a very experienced pack of Hull KR players at the weekend. The Rams fielded Toby Adamson and Jode Sheriffe as their starting props for the game against Dewsbury, with Mitch Stringer and Daniel Igbinedon coming off the bench. Dewsbury competed well against the Broncos but still ended up on the wrong side of the scoreline. Meanwhile, Hull KR have an accomplished forward pack and that is showing with their results. Nick Scruton and Ben Kavanagh have been in and around Super League for a good number of years and they were the starting front-rowers against the Eagles. Chris Clarkson and Rob Mulhern were the interchange options for the props. Not a bad selection there for Tim Sheens!

Prediction

The Rams will not have wanted this game to come around in the current circumstances. After not playing for two weeks, it will be interesting to see how they adapt against a team that have played some brilliant rugby which has sent the Robins to the top of the table. Hull KR coach Tim Sheens will be asking for more of the same from his players and with how consistent they have been thus far, it’s hard to see them not delivering – Hull KR by 28

Halifax v London Broncos – This has the potential to be a brilliant contest as Halifax welcome London Broncos to MBi Shay on Sunday. Halifax will have felt harshly treated after a 12-10 loss against Toulouse Olympique, a game where Greg White scored a very contentious try for the visitors which proved vital. London ran out 42-12 winners against Bradford Bulls at Trailfinders Sports Ground and they’ll travel to West Yorkshire with confidence on their side as well as red hot half-back Jarrod Sammut.

Last Time Out

Halifax were beaten 12-10 by Toulouse Olympique at the MBi Shay, in a contest which has been put into the spotlight for one particular moment in the first half. Steve Tyrer opened the scoring for the hosts in the sixth minute before Greg White responded with a controversial try. A grubber was played into the in-goal area and it didn’t look like White had got downward pressure on the ball but the touch judge and referee agreed that he did and the try was given. This would prove pivotal later on in the game. Tyrer kicked a penalty to restore Fax’s lead but Toulouse wouldn’t go away and they went into half-time with a two point advantage thanks to a Bastien Ader four pointer. In the final quarter, Tyrer levelled matters with another penalty but it was Toulouse who ended up taking the points back to France. Tony Maurel landed a 35 metre penalty goal to win the game for Sylvain Houles’ men. The next fixture between the two teams should be interesting..

London Broncos put seven tries past Bradford Bulls on their way to a 42-12 win in Ealing. The Broncos were 30-6 up at the break after tries from Alex Walker, Elliot Kear, William Barthau as well as a Matt Garside brace. Kevin Larroyer registered Bradford’s only try of the first period. After the interval, Colton Roche cut the deficit to three scores with a converted try but that would be the visitors’ final scoring act as London’s defence muscled up while the attack notched two tries and a penalty. Sammut kicked a penalty and also scored a try while Kieran Dixon ended proceedings with a four pointer of his own on 75 minutes.

Key Battle

The battle up front will be a great one to watch at the weekend as two of the best front-rows in the league face off. Ryan Boyle and Mitch Cahalane were the starting props against Toulouse while Elliot Morris and Luke Ambler both came off the bench to add extra grunt. Unfortunately for the West Yorkshire side, the result didn’t go their way but they will be motivated to knock London off track but it will be a challenge to say the least. Mark Ioane and Junior Roqica have been impressive for the Broncos so far this season and when you’ve got the likes of Ben Evans and Mark Offerdahl to call upon from the bench, you know they’re a side who mean business. They’ll need to be on their game if they’re to go back to the capital with the victory but if the forwards can dominate, that will give Sammut and co a chance to shine.

Prediction

It’s hard to predict against London as they have strengthened well and look to have a complete squad that can fight for a place in Super League come summer time. However, they cannot get complacent despite their full-time status and impressive array of players to choose from. Halifax missed out on the Qualifiers last season and have got off to a sluggish start in 2017. If they can beat London at the weekend, that will lay down a marker to the other teams vying for a spot in the top four – London by 12

Rochdale Hornets v Oldham
– A derby game which had a bit of needle to it in pre-season when George Tyson was sent off after the final whistle. This time around, the Hornets and Roughyeds meet in the league and it should be just as good. Rochdale have got had a brilliant start to the season with three wins from five while Oldham, whose game with Dewsbury was cancelled last weekend, sit ninth with one victory to their name. This tie could go either way.

Last Time Out

Rochdale Hornets claimed a brilliant win against Featherstone Rovers, ending the West Yorkshire side’s unbeaten start to the campaign. A 10-9 victory could possibly have seen a change in expectations for the season ahead, following a win against Bradford and close-run games against Hull KR and Halifax. The Hornets were 8-2 up at the break after a Lewis Palfrey penalty and Danny Bridge try, which was scored while the visitors were down to 12 men. Danny Yates was sin-binned and from the ensuing penalty, Michael Knowles slotted over a goal to get Featherstone on the board. In the second half, Chris Ulugia crossed for a converted score which levelled the game up. Then, with 11 minutes to go Anthony Thackeray kicked a drop goal and it looked like the Rovers had nicked the win. That was the case until Rochdale won a penalty in kicking territory and Palfrey stepped up to slot over the winning points. It should have been common knowledge before the match but the Hornets are no pushovers and this proves it beyond any doubt.

Oldham’s game with Dewsbury was called off due to a waterlogged pitch. Their last match saw them go up against Hull Kingston Rovers but were left scoreless as the Robins ran out 48-0 winners at KCOM Craven Park. The Roughyeds were 30-0 down at the break courtesy of tries from Thomas Minns, Shaun Lunt, James Donaldson, Nick Scruton and Jordan Abdull. In the second half, the four pointers came less frequently but the hosts still managed three more scores through Jamie Ellis, Kieren Moss and Minns.

Key Battle

Josh Crowley and Gary Middlehurst have been two of the Rochdale players who have been given the plaudits so far this season but the half-back partnership of Lewis Palfrey and Danny Yates has been exceptional. Palfrey guided Oldham to safety last year with some notable kicking performances and now he’s doing the same for Rochdale. Yates comes into the Championship after winning League 1 Young Player of the Year and has two tries to his name up to now. Scott Leatherbarrow and Dave Hewitt have been the halves for Oldham so far this year and coach Scott Naylor will be hoping they come up with the goods in the derby this weekend. Hewitt had a great loan spell at the Roughyeds last season and he made his move permanent from Sheffield Eagles. He has the potential to really cause the Hornets some problems.

Prediction

It’s a very tough one to call. The Hornets have been brilliant so far with top performances in nearly all of their matches. They will love nothing more than to get one over on the Roughyeds in the league while extending the gap to the relegation zone at the same time. Coach Alan Kilshaw will need his players to stay focused as Oldham will be eager to get out on the pitch and show their worth as they were unable to do so in round five. The Roughyeds will travel to the Crown Oil Arena looking for revenge after being beaten in pre-season by Rochdale – Rochdale by 8

Sheffield Eagles v Featherstone Rovers
– Sheffield Eagles’ tough schedule continues in round six when Featherstone Rovers make the short journey to the Beaumont Legal Stadium. Both sides suffered defeats last weekend but it’s the Eagles who are in a spot of bother at the minute with just one win to their name while Featherstone sit second in the table.

Last Time Out

Sheffield Eagles were beaten 50-10 by Hull Kingston Rovers at KCOM Craven Park in round five. Despite the convincing final score, the visitors were only 18-10 down at the break as they kept in close contact with their full-time counterparts. James Donaldson opened the scoring for the Robins on 15 minutes before the Eagles responded with two tries of their own courtesy of Duane Straugheir and Garry Lo. However, Sheffield’s joy proved short lived as two tries in three minutes gave Hull KR an eight point lead and it was one they wouldn’t relinquish. Ben Cockayne and Andrew Heffernan both touched down for the East Yorkshire outfit, who also had a man advantage to start the second half after Menzie Yere was sin-binned in the last minute of the first period. In the centre’s absence, Thomas Minns and Adam Quinlan crossed the whitewash to give their side even more breathing space. Chris Clarkson, Jordan Abdull and Donaldson all added four pointers later on in the half before Jamie Ellis kicked a penalty goal in the latter stages to bring up 50 points for Tim Sheens’ men.

Featherstone Rovers’ unbeaten start to the league season was ended by Rochdale Hornets, who triumphed 10-9 at the Big Fellas Stadium. The Rovers overturned an 8-2 half-time deficit to lead with 11 minutes to go but a penalty goal from Lewis Palfrey proved decisive for Alan Kilshaw’s men. Palfrey notched the first points of the game from the kicking tee before Michael Knowles levelled matters with a penalty of his own, which came after Hornets half-back Danny Yates was shown a yellow card. But with a man less on the pitch, Rochdale claimed the opening try of the contest through Danny Bridge minutes before half-time. Palfrey converted. After the restart, Chris Ulugia powered his way to four points and Cory Aston added the extras to make it 8-8 with the final quarter looming. Thackeray edged his side in front with a one pointer as the pressure grew on both sides but there was one last twist in the tale. A penalty came in kicking territory for Rochdale and Palfrey coolly slotted over the winning goal to the delight of the travelling fans.

Key Battle

Dane Chisholm returned to the halves for Sheffield at the weekend after a stint at full-back for Mark Aston’s side. The Aussie had a new partner to combine with as Lewis Foster was brought in on dual-registration from Leigh Centurions to fill in for Simon Brown. After a tight-knit first half, Hull KR ran away with the contest so the halves will be looking to have more of a stranglehold on proceedings this weekend against Featherstone. It won’t be easy for them though as Featherstone have an array of talent in the halves, more so if former Eagle Cory Aston is available for selection. Anthony Thackeray and Matty Wildie started for the Rovers against Rochdale, with Aston coming off the bench. Jon Sharp’s men will be looking to bounce back at the first time of asking, and he will be looking for his halves to punish the Eagles with a strong kicking game as well as taking the ball to the line.

Prediction

The Eagles need to get a win sooner rather than later to end their slump. With no easy games in the Championship, they have to buck the trend against someone and if it comes against Featherstone then confidence will return to the camp. Featherstone have got off to a great start this season despite the loss to Rochdale last weekend. They will be targeting a big performance on Sunday to strengthen their place in the division’s top four – Featherstone by 20