Another weekend of Championship rugby awaits us. The underrated competition received a boost recently with the announcement that the play-offs will be broadcasted live on Sky Sports and rightly so as it is proving to be yet another exciting end to the season.
Batley Bulldogs vs Sheffield Eagles
Batley Bulldogs are creeping closer to play-off places for the first time since their run in the 2016 Super 8s Qualifiers. They have plenty of experience in their side, with Tom Gilmore, Alistair Leak and Ben White available as attackers and with home advantage on their side, the Bulldogs should be slight favourites. Let’s not discredit the Eagles though. They still have Anthony Thackeray to lead a talented and experienced team but their consistency is still in question and could cost them dear on this occasion.
Prediction: Batley Bulldogs 34-18 Sheffield Eagles
Bradford Bulls vs Swinton Lions
Inside the top four and trying to realise their dream of Super League rugby once more are the Bradford Bulls, who should be favoured against bottom club Swinton Lions. They have home advantage on their side, not to mention the talent of Ben and Ryan Evans as well as others. The Lions may cause a stir through Jack Hansen and Martyn Ridyard amongst others but the task appears to be too insurmountable.
Prediction: Bradford Bulls 42-12 Swinton Lions
Featherstone Rovers vs Dewsbury Rams
Genuine title contenders Featherstone Rovers, home advantage and all, will start this match as heavy favourites. They have more or less their strongest possible team available for selection, whose skill and fitness should be more than enough. The Rams’ form has not been too good as of late and though they may show bouts of resistance, it will inevitably prove futile.
Prediction: Featherstone Rovers 48-16 Dewsbury Rams
Newcastle Thunder P-P London Broncos
Oldham RLFC vs Toulouse Olympique
Another obvious call? Top of the league, unbeaten and full-time Toulouse Olympique should be everyone’s choice for this one. Mark Kheirallah, Tony Gigot, Eloi Pelissier and Jonathan Ford will dictate the match as the pivots and should cause the home side plenty of problems. Oldham could cause a surprise or two having done so in the past but with so much at stake for their visitors, I can’t see them coming up with the win this time.
Prediction: Oldham RLFC 12-48 Toulouse Olympique
Widnes Vikings vs Halifax Panthers
Perhaps a more difficult game to call as two former Super League clubs in Widnes Vikings and Halifax Panthers clash at the DCBL stadium. The Vikings could cause problems here, with Matty Smith and Danny Craven in the halves. But ‘Fax, sitting in third place, are in superb form under Simon Grix. They have James Woodburn-Hall, Scott Grix and Liam Harris as pivots plus Jacob Fairbank and Ben Kavanagh to choose from in the pack and should have enough to claim another win but it could well be close.
Prediction: Widnes Vikings 20-28 Halifax Panthers
York City Knights Vs Whitehaven RLFC
Is this the last chance for York? The play-offs could well slip away as dark horses Whitehaven come to ‘town’. The Knights were easily beaten up in Cumbria and will no doubt want revenge. They have Matty Marsh available plus experienced forwards in Danny Washbrook, Danny Kirmond, Chris Clarkson and Jack Teanby. However, Haven should provide them with an entertaining match, with Callum Phillips, Gregg McNally, Dion Aiye and Louis Jouffret available. This game could well go either way.
Prediction: York City Knights 26-22 Whitehaven RLFC