The road to Wembley may be all but over for the clubs in the second tier but this weekend normal life resumes for the 14 clubs in the Betfred Championship, with some mouth-watering ties lined up.
Batley Bulldogs Vs Oldham RLFC
An interesting game as the plucky Batley Bulldogs face Oldham RLFC at the Fox Biscuit’s stadium. Batley have lost back-to-back league and cup ties to Featherstone Rovers but could easily return to winning ways, especially as they gave the title contenders a good run for their money in both games. Oldham gained vengeance against Swinton last time out but this could well be too big a task for them here.
Prediction: Batley Bulldogs 28-18 Oldham RLFC
Widnes Vikings Vs Dewsbury Rams
Former Super League outfit Widnes Vikings host Dewsbury Rams. The Vikings may be seething after their Challenge Cup humiliation to Salford Red Devils whereas Dewsbury have had a somewhat mixed start to the season. It could be an entertaining affair but the Vikings, with home advantage and all, seem to possess the more experienced players from the top level and should see off a fierce effort by the Rams.
Prediction: Widnes Vikings 34-18 Dewsbury Rams
Swinton Lions Vs Featherstone Rovers
Another expansive team when they want to be, Swinton Lions come up against the highly fancied Featherstone Rovers. The Lions, under Stuart Littler, have started well, scoring some good tries and proving to be plucky opposition to defend against. However, though James Webster’s side exited the Cup, they still have some speed and power in their team, perhaps too much for the Lions to handle.
Prediction: Swinton Lions 16-36 Featherstone Rovers
Whitehaven RLFC Vs Newcastle Thunder
Two “expansion” clubs meet as Cumbrian side Whitehaven host Newcastle Thunder. Whitehaven of course have home advantage and, with it being a long journey for Newcastle to make, it could be too much for Thunder here. True, they boast stars such as Ukuma Ta’ai, Jake Shorrocks and the Chapelhow siblings but ‘Haven have their own stars, such as Gregg McNally, Nikau Williams, Jessie Joe Parker and James Worthington, who will provide fierce resistance. It will be close but ‘Haven will probably edge it.
Prediction: Whitehaven RLFC 24-20 Newcastle Thunder
Bradford Bulls Vs Halifax Panthers
An old rivalry is set to resurface as Bradford Bulls go against Halifax Panthers at the Tetley’s stadium. The Bulls have suffered from a slow start with heavy defeats to Featherstone and Sheffield, meaning they will need a bounce back. They’ll no doubt look towards half-backs Jordan Lilley and Danny Brough to provide inspiration. However, ‘Fax could easily capitalise on any off-field uncertainty, even boasting some Super League experience in their squad and this could be the difference.
Prediction: Bradford Bulls 20-30 Halifax Panthers
York City Knights Vs Sheffield Eagles
A repeat of an earlier Challenge Cup tie as York now welcome Sheffield to the LNER Community stadium. The Knights maintain a very strong squad, even adding new additions Joe Keyes, Lewis Peachey and Yusuf Aydin. Sheffield could provide a challenge, for a time that is, but will eventually crumble against York’s superior experience, similar circumstances befell their Cup tie after all.
Prediction: York City Knights 42-20 Sheffield Eagles