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Championship Round One Round-up: World Cup signings shine on debut

The wait was finally over this weekend with the Betfred Championship kicking off the domestic season on Saturday.

Saturday saw Barrow host Toulouse whilst today has seen a further five fixtures, before tomorrow night’s final matchup that pits 2022 League One Champions, Keighley Cougars, host the 2023 Championship favourites Featherstone Rovers.

Here’s a round up of the Round One action.

Saturday 4th February

Barrow Raiders 4 – 24 Toulouse Olympique

There had been much talk about Toulouse announcing an initial squad of just 19 men and coupled with their reported financial issues, there was a cloud of mystery over the 2021 champions.

Any fears that they’d struggle during the 2023 campaign were quashed during an impressive victory over 2022 play-off side Barrow Raiders.

The French side got off to a quick start before the hosts found their feet, but it was all too late as Toulouse ran out 24-4 winners in a game where every single conversion was missed.

Sunday 5th February

Bradford Bulls 24 – 8 Whitehaven

Odsal was bouncing once again and Bradford secured their first win over Whitehaven at their home ground in the last three attempts.

Four converted tries were enough to seal victory with Gill bagging a brace and George Flanagan Sr teaching his son, Jr, a thing or two by also crossing over.

A scoreline of 6-2 at halftime saw the game very close but Bradford showed their class and superior squad to run out as winners by a wide margin, concern for the Bulls would be the early departure of Jack Walker with injury.

Halifax Panthers 26 – 18 Sheffield Eagles

Last season’s third placed Panthers secured their first victory of 2023 and it was one of their star signings that made the difference.

Jake Maizen crossed over twice and it’s looking already that the acquisition of the Italian international who starred at the World Cup was a very smart piece of business.

The Panthers had ran out 16-0 leaders before Sheffield pulled one back just before the half, the comeback wasn’t to be though and Maizen’s 78th minute try finished it off.

London Broncos 20 – 30 Batley Bulldogs

The side that made it to the Million Pound Game in 2022 kicked their season off with a bang as they travelled to the capital and ran out 30-20 victors.

Losing Luke Hooley in the off-season looked to be a massive loss however young Aidan McGowan impressed, but it was Kieran Buchanan who bagged the brace to secure the win.

A scoreline of 10-10 at half time showed hope for London but the northern side ran out as victors comfortably, a late Broncos try amounting to nothing.

Swinton Lions 6 – 18 Newcastle Thunder

The Chris Thorman era at Newcastle got underway with a win as they travelled over to Swinton and beat the newly promoted side 18-6.

The scoreline was added to late on by Nikau Williams with his 79th minute score and it wasn’t until the 71st minute that Thunder actually took the lead.

Potentially unfortunate for Swinton but the class and high level of the Thunder signings, notably World Cup stars, paid dividends with Jamaican international Alex Young, brother of England’s Dom, scoring a brace on debut.

York Knights 12 – 19 Widnes Vikings

The Andrew Henderson era at York started with a loss as John Kear’s Widnes side secured victory at the LNER stadium.

A late Tom Gilmore drop goal ensured the two score margin of victory but it was simply the icing on top of a strong Widnes performance.

Andrew Henderson will go back to the drawing board as he tries to get to grips with his squad whilst Widnes themselves are still mixing in a number of assistant’s following Ryan O’Brien’s departure.

Final Results

Bradford Bulls 24 – 8 Whitehaven
Halifax Panthers 26 – 16 Sheffield Eagles
London Broncos 20 – 30 Batley Bulldogs
Swinton Lions 6 – 18 Newcastle Thunder
York Knights 12 – 19 Widnes Vikings

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