Five games in and already, we look all set for another tasty season in the Championship!
Batley Bulldogs and Sheffield Eagles are unexpectedly challenging for promotion as it stands, whereas London Broncos and Halifax Panthers are somewhat underachieving.
Sheffield Eagles Vs Batley Bulldogs
Two of the overachievers, perhaps, as Sheffield Eagles and Batley Bulldogs meet at the Keepmoat stadium. The Eagles were held to a draw last week with London, but have still recorded some interesting results, led by Anthony Thackeray and Izaac Farrell at halfback. But the Bulldogs appear to be the more confident, even demonstrating their form away from home last week, and led by the exciting Tom Gilmore, could edge this one.
Prediction: Sheffield Eagles 22-34 Batley Bulldogs
Oldham RLFC Vs Whitehaven RLFC
Possibly a relegation four pointer between Oldham and Whitehaven, but both teams could provide plenty of entertainment. Oldham stunned Halifax last week whereas Whitehaven have surprised Dewsbury and Newcastle earlier this season in the Cup then league respectively. However, home advantage could be key and Oldham seem to be a difficult side to beat at Bower Fold this season, not to mention the trip down could take it out of the visitors too.
Prediction: Oldham RLFC 26-12 Whitehaven RLFC
Swinton Lions Vs Bradford Bulls
Rock bottom and desperate for a win are the Swinton Lions. Stuart Littler’s outfit are capable of playing some exciting rugby league, though they might not have a lot of confidence after heavy defeats to York and Widnes. Bradford battled to a win in Cumbria last week, which was their third consecutive victory. As a result, the Bulls should be slight favourites for this one, led by Danny Brough and Jordan Lilley, though Swinton may provide an interesting battle at halfback, should Jack Hansen and Martyn Ridyard feature.
Prediction: Swinton Lions 24-36 Bradford Bulls
London Broncos Vs Newcastle Thunder
One team who have been in and out of Super League more than once against a side who desire to be regulars there in the not so distant future! London are still full-time and seem to be getting their more experienced players back from injury. Newcastle may be hurting from their defeat last week, and are still in transition so it may prove too much for them here.
Prediction: London Broncos 28-16 Newcastle Thunder
Toulouse Olympique Vs Widnes Vikings
Rearranged from being played in France, the red hot favourites for promotion Toulouse Olympique should be well up for this one. Possessing an array of former Super League and NRL players, led by Jonathan Ford, and being full-time, the French side will show off their flashy attacking skills that should overwhelm Widnes.
Not to count the Vikings out fully, they are no strangers to having top division players in their squad, and last week’s win would have helped their confidence. A harsh reality check, though, seems imminent.
Prediction: Toulouse Olympique 38-22 Widnes Vikings
Dewsbury Rams Vs Halifax Panthers
Two clubs hopeful of a return to winning ways are the Dewsbury Rams and Halifax Panthers as they face off at the Tetley’s stadium.
The Rams have shown good form all season, maybe a blip against Bradford, whereas ‘Fax have been rather inconsistent, which could be their undoing for this one.
There should be plenty of entertainment with both teams capable of wowing on their day with Super League experience, but with home advantage, Dewsbury should edge it.
Prediction: Dewsbury Rams 26-18 Halifax Panthers
York City Knights Vs Featherstone Rovers
A mouth-watering clash and an early battle for promotion between York City Knights and Featherstone Rovers at the LNER Community stadium. This is a battle between two teams full of experience from Super League and the NRL and who have challenged for promotion in recent years. However, Featherstone could edge it as they appear to be the more consistent of the two sides with a more seasoned halfback combination, not to mention they will be well rested from their week off.
Prediction: York City Knights 22-28 Featherstone Rovers