The Super League may be undergoing a few disruptions but the Championship is set to return for another full round of action. Things are heating up, not just with this weather but with four West Yorkshire clubs all chasing a play-off spot, we should be due another exciting end of season run-in in what is a criminally underrated division of rugby league.
Halifax Panthers vs Whitehaven RLFC
The in-form Halifax Panthers host Whitehaven RLFC, who perhaps should not underestimated after recording back-to-back victories. They may provide some fierce resistance for the home side but the Panthers still possess a formidable squad, with Liam Harris, Scott Grix and James Woodburn-Hall leading the way. ‘Haven have some decent players themselves, Karl Dixon, Jessie Joe Parker and Dion Aiye to name a few. But travelling away, and against a side full of confidence chasing the play-offs will really see them up against it here.
Prediction: Halifax Panthers 38-12 Whitehaven RLFC
Batley Bulldogs vs Toulouse Olympique
Formerly the competition ‘overachievers’ the Batley Bulldogs will hope for a response to end their losing run but up against the league leaders Toulouse Olympique will be easier said than done. The Bulldogs have many experienced players to choose from, with Alistair Leak, Ben White, Tom Gilmore and Dane Manning available. However, Toulouse, still led by Jonathan Ford as well as Eloi Pelissier, Harrison Hansen and Mark Kheirallah, possess danger all across the field. Being a full-time outfit Toulouse should have enough to see them past the Bulldogs.
Prediction: Batley Bulldogs 16-40 Toulouse Olympique
London Broncos vs York City Knights
This could be a fiery affair. London Broncos will want revenge after being knocked out of the Challenge Cup by the York City Knights. However, being coach-less following Danny Ward’s sudden departure will put a strain on things. Furthermore, they’ll be low on confidence after their drubbing against Featherstone last week. Though they should still be slightly favoured possessing the likes of Jarrod Sammut. Not to count out the Knights fully, they are full of Super League experience but their lack of form has been a problem for some time now and could derail them here.
Prediction: London Broncos 30-16 York City Knights
Newcastle Thunder vs Dewsbury Rams
After recording a stunning win at York last week, Newcastle Thunder will be hungry for another here. Eamon O’Carroll has named a strong squad for this one with the likes of Jack Johnson, Jake Shorrocks, Josh Woods and Ukuma Ta’ai all set to feature. The Rams should provide a challenge; Paul Sykes and Liam Finn should lead by example alongside the likes of Michael Knowles and Will Oakes but home advantage as well as potentially having more confidence could help Thunder edge this one.
Prediction: Newcastle Thunder 28-20 Dewsbury Rams
Oldham RLFC vs Bradford Bulls
Perhaps well rested after their cancelled trip to France, Oldham could have too much energy for the Bradford Bulls. Looking at their squad, they have Lewis Charnock, Darren Abram, Martin Reilly and Gareth Owen available, who could cause serious problems. Bradford may be without skipper Danny Brough but bringing back Joe Keyes could fill the attacking void the Bulls have lacked in recent weeks.
Prediction: Oldham RLFC 16-30 Bradford Bulls
Swinton Lions vs Sheffield Eagles
Is this finally the week the Swinton Lions get off the mark? They still have Martyn Ridyard, Jack Hansen and Rhodri Lloyd available and have proved to be quite an attacking threat, especially at home. But the Eagles possess a strong squad, with Josh Guzdek, Anthony Thackeray, Izaac Farrell and Aaron Brown available. Could they lead Sheffield to victory?
Prediction: Swinton Lions 24-26 Sheffield Eagles
Widnes Vikings vs Featherstone Rovers
This one could be a thriller. The Widnes Vikings have been in some fantastic form recently but up against the brilliant Featherstone Rovers they face a fierce battle. Jack Owens, Steve Tyrer, Deon Cross, Matty Smith and Adam Lawton are all available and it was only last month when the Vikings pushed Fev to the brink in the 1895 Cup semi-final. But the Rovers have the likes of Craig Hall, Tom Holmes, Dane Chisholm and Nu Brown to lead by example. They could have just enough to edge past the Vikings once again.
Prediction: Widnes Vikings 22-32 Featherstone Rovers