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Betfred Championship Round 1 Predictions

Arguably the most competitive rugby league division returns this weekend as all 14 Championship clubs start their journey.

Whether the aims is Super League or survival every club has something to play for so you can expect plenty of mouth-watering action to kick us off as the players will no doubt be eager to get stuck in once again as summer rugby league returns after what feels like an eternity.

Workington Town v Newcastle Thunder

Two ‘expansionist’ clubs first up in Workington Town and Newcastle Thunder. Some may see Workington as vast underdogs here after all, newly promoted and being part-time are factors which work against them but they surprised close neighbours Whitehaven in pre-season and with home advantage, could be a handful for Newcastle. However, the visitors possess a strong squad and though it is a huge gamble becoming a full-time outfit, it may just pay off.

Prediction: Workington Town 18-26 Newcastle Thunder

Leigh Centurions v Whitehaven RLFC

Leigh Centurions are red hot favourites for promotion but can they live up to expectation against last season’s surprise package in Whitehaven? They have an incredible squad on paper, with star signing Caleb Aekins set for his competitive debut. His involvement alongside fellow pivots Ben Reynolds and Joe Mellor will be crucial. I’ve not even mentioned certain forwards such as Joe Wardle, Tom Amone and club captain Adam Sidlow plus Nene Macdonald will have a point to prove in the centres. Haven’ are obviously the underdogs and though they will show some resistance, their perhaps inferior fitness and speed will show in what could well be a long afternoon for the Cumbrian side.

Prediction: Leigh Centurions 38-12 Whitehaven RLFC

Barrow Raiders vs Sheffield Eagles

Perhaps the early look of a relegation four pointer as Barrow Raiders entertain Sheffield Eagles. The Raiders, newly promoted as well, complete the Cumbrian trio in the Championship in 2022 and will obviously be eager to impress. Home advantage, not to mention some previous top level experience in their squad, such as Hakim Miloudi, Jarrod Sammut and both Adam and Jordan Walne, they could be difficult to live with up North. Sheffield, captained by Anthony Thackeray, should provide plenty of resistance, with their own experience brought in for this season but the long trip coupled with on and off field transition may hinder them ever so slightly on this occasion.

Prediction: Barrow Raiders 30-22 Sheffield Eagles

Batley Bulldogs vs Halifax Panthers

Always a tough fixture to call this one as Batley host Halifax.  Both clubs went within 80 minutes of the Million Pound Game last year and will want to go better in 2022, starting here. Batley have retained plenty of experience, with Alistair Leak to lead by example at hooker plus Ben White and Tom Gilmore in the halves. But ‘Fax, having made some impressive signings in Joe Arundel and Joe Keyes, could well have the edge on this occasion but it should be a cracker nonetheless.

Prediction: Batley Bulldogs 20-24 Halifax Panthers

Dewsbury Rams vs Bradford Bulls

Another all-West Yorkshire affair as Dewsbury Rams host former tenants Bradford Bulls. The Rams have undergone a period of transition this season, with two new half-backs in Alex Smith and Matty Beharrell but retain experienced forwards in Chris Annakin, Jason Walton and Michael Knowles. Bradford Bulls picked up some form in pre-season though and have promising players in David Foggin-Johnston but their own experience in Steve Crossley, Declan Patton, Rhys Evans and Jordan Baldwinson should be enough for John Kear’s side on this occasion.

Prediction: Dewsbury Rams 18-34 Bradford Bulls

London Broncos vs Widnes Vikings

Two former Super League sides fallen from grace as London Broncos host Widnes Vikings at their new home in Wimbledon. London have undergone many changes since the pandemic kicked in and it could prove costly. Though they have retained some previous experience, they have an untested half-back combination, which is always a risk plus a whole host of new players who may need time to settle in. Life has not been easy for Widnes either, but they have retained a lot of their squad from last season and could well have the edge on the Londoners.

Prediction: London Broncos 22-26 Widnes Vikings

York City Knights vs Featherstone Rovers

Two clubs hoping for a first ever shot in Super League are York City Knights and Featherstone Rovers. The first game of the season to be hosted on Premier Sports, it may also be one of the best as both sides have a point to prove as the season begins. The Knights should give a good account of themselves, with the likes of Brendan O’Hagan and Jamie Ellis at half-back plus an experienced forward pack under their belt. However, Featherstone are one of the favourites for promotion, boasting former NRL stars in Joey Leilua and Jesse Sene-Lefao plus the magnificent Tom Holmes in the halves can be most devastating. They may also give a debut to former Man of Steel nominee Adam Cuthbertson.

Prediction: York City Knights 12-26 Featherstone Rovers

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