The Championship table has seen some major changes to it lately and the division has also seen a huge head coach being dismissed too, but what does round 17 have in store?
We were treated to a mid-week match on Wednesday evening with York Knights travelling to Whitehaven to make up their fixture that they missed on account of the Challenge Cup quarter-finals.
The Knights fell to defeat which has left them lingering in 12th but it was the side in seventh, just four points ahead of them, that dismissed their head coach this week with John Kear being relieved of duties at Widnes.
Both sides are in action this weekend with Widnes on the road to Toulouse, a worrying prospect for their interim coach, whilst York host Halifax who are in ripe form.
Saturday 1st July
Toulouse Olympique vs Widnes Vikings
Prediction: Toulouse 70-6
This could be an absolute hammering down in the south of France. Just last week Toulouse put Bradford to the sword in soaring temperatures and they could easily do the same this week against coach-less Widnes. The Vikings form sees six losses in their last seven whilst Toulouse have regularly been scoring 50 points or more in France. Expect a big Toulouse win.
Sunday 2nd July
Barrow Raiders vs Batley Bulldogs
Prediction: Barrow 14-30 Batley
Batley had been the standout team in terms of form however their seven game winning streak came to an end last week at the hands of London. As for Barrow they’ve not won seven games all season, although their form has picked up of late with three wins in five including three wins on the spin at home. That said Batley will be demanding a bounce-back result, and a win could return them to second as well.
Bradford Bulls vs Keighley Cougars
Prediction: Bradford 40-14 Keighley
It’s the battle of BD with both sides from the Bradford postcode area facing off for the third time this season with both teams sit on one win a piece but with current form it seems evident that the Bulls will win this third meeting. Keighley did get a rare win last week, their first in six weeks, whereas Bradford fell to defeat in the scorching heat in Toulouse. A win for the Bulls will solidify their position in the playoffs and it’s hard to look past them winning at Odsal on Sunday afternoon.
London Broncos vs Newcastle Thunder
Prediction: London 28-4 Newcastle
The Broncos ended Batley’s impressive winning run last weekend after having suffered two tough losses against Featherstone and Bradford. They now face a Newcastle side that finally got their first win since opening day when they beat Keighley the other weekend, but it was back to earth with a bang last week when Sheffield defeated them 40-0. Whilst this likely won’t be a 40-0 hammering, it should be one-sided and the Broncos could run away with it and start closing in on the top six.
Swinton Lions vs Sheffield Eagles
Prediction: Swinton 16-26 Sheffield
Swinton have certainly improved of late but still show very topsy turvy form making them incredibly hard to predict. Sheffield bounced back from defeat to Toulouse with a resounding win over Newcastle and another win like that could push them outright second. A win for Swinton meanwhile, who have recorded the occasional upset this season especially victory over Toulouse, would lift them out of the bottom two potentially. Regardless the safe money goes with the Eagles.
Whitehaven vs Featherstone Rovers
Prediction: Whitehaven 10-54 Featherstone
Whitehaven have already played this week, beating York on Wednesday evening, and to ask them to play a third game in eight days against a side that is top of the table is a recipe for what could be a hammering. Rovers have shown the ability to run up a score at times this season and that could be the case again on Sunday.
York Knights vs Halifax Panthers
Prediction: York 8-42 Halifax
Like Whitehaven, York will also be tasked to play three games in eight days, but unlike Haven they’re on terrible form and it could get even worse for Andrew Henderson’s men who are getting sucked into a relegation fight. The Knights have lost their five league matches in a row and they face a Halifax side rediscovering it’s form. The Panthers winger Lachlan Walmsley is currently sitting on 29 tries in 18 matches this season and York will do well to keep him quiet.