We’ve gone past the halfway stage of the Championship season and a shock result last weekend has potentially breathed life into the division once again.
The competition from positions second through to tenth has been tight all season with teams flip-flopping in position, but they’ve all been playing catch up with the unbeaten Featherstone Rovers.
That changed last week when Toulouse travelled to Fev and defeated them, handing Rovers their first league loss of the season and securing Toulouse’s first win in four on English soil.
Whilst Featherstone are still six points ahead of the chasing pack, could that be the glimmer of hope to inspire a grandstand second half of the season?
We’ll find out how Rovers respond in round 15 which only sees six fixtures on account of York Knights still remaining in the Challenge Cup.
Toulouse Olympique vs Sheffield Eagles: 17:00
Prediction: Toulouse 28-22 Sheffield
Fresh off their win over Featherstone the Olympians return home to France where they’ve got a perfect record of five wins from five this season. They’re yet to face a side ranked as high in the table as Sheffield though, with the Eagles sitting in second, two points ahead of their opponents. Whilst the Eagles are certainly a force to be reckoned with there’s just no questioning Toulouse’s home form or the confidence they’ll enter the game with given last week’s impressive victory. The one positive for the Eagles would be that Toulouse are without Reuben Rennie, who has unfortunately ruptured his achilles.
Barrow Raiders vs Widnes Vikings: 15:00
Prediction: Barrow 22-18 Widnes
John Kear’s Widnes are one of the teams struggling for form at the moment whilst Paul Crarey’s Barrow side have started to grind out a few results and distance themselves slightly from bottom spot. The Cumbrian side still sit 12th but with three wins in their last five, relative to one in their first nine they’re certainly starting to click. In contrast Widnes have lost four of their last five and by Kear’s admission are on the verge of derailing their season. This will likely be a very close game but Barrow could return the favour and defeat Widnes following their 23-14 defeat earlier this season.
Bradford Bulls vs Halifax Panthers: 15:00
Prediction: Bradford 20-28 Halifax
Bradford have strung together a run of four wins for the first time this season but facing a tough opponent they’ve already shared wins with this season will be a real test. Halifax performed well in France a fortnight ago, just falling to defeat, and last week ran riot with Lachlan Walmsley scoring four to take his tally to 23. The Panthers will likely have enough but this could be the game of the weekend.
Featherstone Rovers vs London Broncos
Prediction: Featherstone 40-18 London
Featherstone lost in the league for the first time last week and have since parted ways with assistant coach Leon Pryce midweek, the former Bulls man leaving on account of Rovers stepping into a more full-time training regime. Regardless they’ll want a huge boost in response to last week’s loss but they do face a tough London side. Even so their home support coupled with the Broncos poor away form suggests this should be business as usual with a Rovers win.
Newcastle Thunder vs Keighley Cougars
Prediction: Newcastle 20-23 Keighley
Newcastle are still without a win since round one of the season and whilst they’ve been getting a lot closer, this potentially still isn’t the week. They face another out-of-form side in Keighley with the Cougars having lost six of their last seven, albeit their last two losses have been by a combined six points. There’s clear improvements at Cougar Park and that should be enough to secure this win.
Swinton Lions vs Batley Bulldogs
Prediction: Swinton 16-30 Batley
Batley are the form team in the competition at the moment and they’ve soared up to third, just behind Sheffield on points difference given their tricky start to the year. The Bulldogs have won their last six, with the game prior to their winning run being a close loss to Featherstone as well meaning they’re eight from nine with the sole loss coming to Rovers. As for Swinton they’ve picked up a shock win over Toulouse and have showed fight but falling to Halifax 46-8 last week is a more accurate reflection of them, and Batley are proving just as good as Halifax at the minute.