Oldham v Rochdale Hornets – Following the League 1 Cup final between Barrow Raiders and North Wales Crusaders, Oldham and Rochdale Hornets kick off the Championship action at Summer Bash. The Roughyeds have lost their last two games while the Hornets have been in a major slump due to a six game losing streak, stemming from their dramatic defeat against Batley Bulldogs in early April.
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Oldham were beaten 48-28 against Batley Bulldogs at the Manchester Regional Arena. The half-time score read 22-22 but the hosts got off to a great start with tries from Adam Clay and Adam Neal. The Bulldogs replied with tries of their own through Danny Cowling and Joel Farrell before Clay completed his quick-fire hat-trick courtesy of two more scores. Alistair Leak and Adam Gledhill made sure the Roughyeds didn’t run away with the tie as they bagged a try apiece. Batley scrum-half Dom Brambani had his half cut short by a minute as he was sin-binned for a trip. Despite the absence of a key figure for the start of the second half, the Bulldogs took the lead as Wayne Reittie touched down. Brambani soon returned to make an instant impact by extending his side’s lead prior to Cain Southernwood kicking a penalty gal to make it 36-22. James Harrison and Tom Lillycrop registered tries either side of the hour mark to seal a good win for the Bulldogs. However, Danny Grimshaw did notch the final try of the game as the hosts capitalised on Brambani’s red card in the dying embers.
Rochdale Hornets’ poor form continued as Alan Kilshaw’s men were beaten 28-2 by Halifax at the MBi Shay. Danny Yates gave the visitors an early lead through a penalty goal but that proved to be their only points of the game. Ben Johnson and Steve Tyrer scored tries in quick succession to put Halifax in front before Rochdale’s Chris Riley was sin-binned for a professional foul. At half-time, Fax led 10-2 and they had Will Sharp and Adam Tangata to thank for extending their lead ahead of the final quarter. Simon Grix scored the last try of the afternoon with three minutes to spare as the hosts racked up their seventh straight win.
Adam Clay showed off his ability against Batley with a 20-minute hat-trick in the first half but his efforts were in vain. The winger has five tries to his name and his side will have to face the Hornets’ Rob Massam, who is in double figures on the try charts. Tuoyo Egodo was the other winger for Oldham against Batley. Egodo is an example of the calibre of player that is out there in London, and the Castleford loanee has certainly impressed in a stint at the Roughyeds. Kevin Penny played his first game on dual-registration for the Hornets this season against Halifax but was unable to get on the scoresheet. It will be interesting to see, on an hopefully dry track at Bloomfield Road, whether these teams will play an expansive style and get their wingers involved at every opportunity or if there’ll be a few nerves.
Oldham will be wanting to get back to winning ways after two straight defeats and they have a good opportunity this weekend against a Rochdale side who are struggling. The Hornets had a great start to the season and that is certainly proving helpful during this poor stretch of results. Alan Kilshaw knows his players are capable of an eye-catching result but whether they’ll deliver is another matter – Rochdale by 10
Featherstone Rovers v London Broncos – Easily one of the most anticipated games at this year’s Summer Bash, Featherstone Rovers and London Broncos are expected to play out an absolute treat in Blackpool. Both sides have an array of quality players and that won’t go unnoticed as second place takes on fourth place. Featherstone have won their last four league matches while London have gone five unbeaten, but who will come out on top this time around?
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Featherstone Rovers beat Dewsbury Rams 52-10 on home turf to extend their winning run. The hosts led 32-4 at the break after tries from James Lockwood, Misi Taulapapa, Josh Hardcastle, Jason Walton and a brace courtesy of Scott Turner. Cory Aston also kicked a penalty goal. Lewis Fairhurst bagged Dewsbury’s only try of the first period. Walton and Frankie Mariano kept their foot on the gas with a try apiece before Shaun Squires got on the scoresheet for Dewsbury. Hardcastle and Jack Ormondroyd finished the game in style as they both crossed with Featherstone passing the 50 point mark.
London Broncos also picked up a comfortable victory as they defeated Bradford Bulls 56-12 at the Provident Stadium. The capital club were 34-6 up at the interval thanks to four pointer from Jay Pitts, Rhys Williams, Junior Roqica, Jarrod Sammut and a brace from Kieran Dixon. Cameron Smith scored Bradford’s lone try of the half. Roqica and Dixon added tries after the break with London moving closer to their half century. Johnny Campbell and Sammut exchanged scores before Daniel Harrison was sent to the sin-bin for a spear tackle. Despite being a man down, London still crossed the whitewash in the last minute thanks to Matt Garside.
Both sides had try-scoring impacts from their forwards in their last match and the front-rowers will provide the platform for more success in Blackpool. Jack Ormondroyd got on the scoresheet in the last few minutes against Dewsbury while James Lockwood and Frankie Mariano, albeit a loose forward and second-rower respectively, also got over the whitewash. Darrell Griffin was on the bench for the Rovers and his experience is vital in big matches, including this one at the weekend. Meanwhile, Junior Roqica notched a brace for London from the bench against Bradford at the weekend while fellow forwards Jay Pitts and Matt Garside touched down too. Ben Evans and Mark Ioane were the starting props for the Broncos, with Roqica, Garside and Matt Gee providing the reinforcements for the forwards. It should be a proper blood and thunder encounter on Saturday between these two sides, and a good advert for the Championship division.
It’s a tough one to call as London have got things back together after a midseason wobble while Featherstone have been consistent all year and even gave Hull KR a run for their money. I can see the Rovers nicking this one, strengthening their top four bid in the process – Featherstone by 12
Bradford Bulls v Hull Kingston Rovers – Saturday’s action concludes with a match between top of the table and bottom, with Hull Kingston Rovers taking on Bradford Bulls. This will be Bradford’s first game without Leon Pryce, who announced his retirement during the week. The loss of Pryce will have been softened by the availability of former Robin Dane Chisholm, whose transfer from Sheffield Eagles was sealed in midweek. Hull KR have won their last three league matches since losing to Toulouse and they’ll be eying up a fourth straight win when they face the Bulls.
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Bradford Bulls were beaten 56-12 against London Broncos at the Provident Stadium. The hosts were 34-6 down at the break despite Cameron Smith’s opener for the Bulls. Kieran Dixon bagged a brace while Jay Pitts, Rhys Williams, Junior Roqica and Jarrod Sammut all added tries. In the second half, Roqica and Dixon crossed once again before Johnny Campbell and Sammut exchanged tries. Daniel Harrison was sin-binned for a spear tackle but London performed just fine without him as Matt Garside finished the game in style with the final try of the game.
Hull Kingston Rovers defeated Swinton Lions 42-18 at KCOM Craven Park, despite only leading 14-8 at the break due to tries from Joe Wardill and Jordan Abdull as well as a penalty from Zach Dockar-Clay. Luke Waterworth scored Swinton’s lone four pointer, with Chris Atkin kicking a penalty. Abdull, Andrew Heffernan and Ryan Shaw all scored consecutive tries in the second half before Mike Butt responded for the Lions. Shaw and Butt swapped scores before the former completed his hat-trick with moments remaining.
Dane Chisholm and Jordan Lilley will give Bradford a bit of x-factor which may spark their revival in the Championship. Chisholm helped the Bulls to a Championship Shield success last year and he has returned, to the delight of Bradford’s following. Lilley is the perfect complement for Chisholm’s off-the-cuff style and the pair will be wanting to shock the Robins at the weekend. Without Jamie Ellis last weekend, Hull KR had no problems as their new half-back partnership of Jordan Abdull and Zach Dockar-Clay combined well. Ellis is in the squad for Saturday’s game and it’s to be expected that the leading points scorer in the second tier will return to the fold.
The introduction of Chisholm will give the Bulls a boost but whether he can lead the basement club to a victory against the Robins is another question altogether. Bradford have leaked over 40 points in each of their last four matches and Hull KR will be rubbing their hands at that fact. The Robins have been on fire for the majority of this season and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them rack up another big score here – Hull KR by 26
Sheffield Eagles v Swinton Lions – Sheffield Eagles kickstart the second day of the Summer Bash in Blackpool when they take on Swinton Lions. Both sides lost to two of the top four teams in the league last week but which side will bounce back at Bloomfield Road?
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Sheffield Eagles were beaten 45-20 against Toulouse Olympique at Stade Ernest Argeles. The visitors were 26-6 down at the break despite Kyle Trout’s try. Former Eagle Stan Robin notched a brace while Kane Bentley and Sebastien Planas also touched down. Mark Kheirallah added a penalty goal to his tally before the interval. After the restart, Garry Lo temporarily cut the deficit with the first try of the second period before Bastien Canet resumed normal service for Toulouse. Paddy Flynn bagged a four pointer on debut for Sheffield prior to Planas and Kuni Minga crossing to put the game’s result beyond doubt. Lo doubled his tally with the final try of the game before Kheirallah added gloss to the scoreline thanks to a drop goal.
Swinton Lions put up a good fight against Hull Kingston Rovers but were undone 42-18 at KCOM Craven Park, mostly down to a hat-trick from Ryan Shaw and brace from Jordan Abdull. John Duffy’s men went into the sheds 14-8 down at the break after being 8-0 down courtesy of a Luke Waterworth try and a penalty from Chris Atkin. Joe Wardill and Abdull responded with tries for the hosts, and Zach Dockar-Clay also kicked a penalty. In the second half Abdull, Andrew Heffernan and Shaw all crossed to extend the Robins’ lead before Mike Butt responded for Swinton with a try of his own. Shaw and Butt swapped scores afterwards but the former wasn’t finished as he completed his hat-trick in the last minute.
Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston has a slight dilemma on his hands ahead of this weekend. The South Yorkshire club have brought in full-back Jack Owens from St Helens until the end of the season and Aston will be contemplating a debut for the former Widnes man. However, Ryan Millar has done a sterling job at full-back up to now for the Eagles and it would seem rather harsh to remove the academy product from the starting lineup. Meanwhile, Jack Murphy started against Hull KR in Swinton’s last match and he will be expected to do so again on Sunday against the Eagles. Murphy scored the winning try for Workington against Whitehaven at the Summer Bash in 2015 and he will be hoping for a similar performance by the seaside this year.
Sheffield come into their third Summer Bash after losing their last two fixtures at the showpiece event. London Broncos have had the upper hand over the Eagles in Blackpool but now Mark Aston’s men have a chance to get their first win on the board at Bloomfield Road. The Lions are currently four points above the relegation zone and a victory on Sunday would be perfect for John Duffy’s side as the middle eights come over the horizon – Sheffield by 14
Halifax v Toulouse Olympique – The pick of the bunch from the final day of the Summer Bash as Halifax go head-to-head with Toulouse Olympique. Toulouse beat Halifax at MBi Shay earlier on in the season but had a dubious try given so Richard Marshall’s men will be eager for revenge. Fax are only outside of the top four on points difference but a victory against Toulouse will see them leapfrog the French club. Should be an interesting game to say the least.
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Halifax beat Rochdale Hornets 28-2 on home turf to keep close to their fellow top four competitors. Danny Yates got the scoreboard ticking thanks to a penalty goal for Rochdale before Ben Johnston and Steve Tyrer replied with a try apiece as the hosts led 10-2 at the break. The Hornets finished the half with 12 men due to Chris Riley’s sin-binning for a trip in the 34th minute. After the break, Will Sharp and Adam Tangata notched four pointers before Simon Grix finished the scoring with a try three minutes before time.
Toulouse Olympique defeated Sheffield Eagles 45-20 at Stade Ernest Argeles. The hosts were 26-6 up at half-time thanks to a brace from Stan Robin as well as tries from Kane Bentley and Sebastien Planas. Mark Kheirallah kicked a penalty for Olympique while Kyle Trout got Sheffield on the board with his side’s only try of the first half. In the second period, Garry Lo kept his great try-scoring form going with Sheffield’s second prior to Bastien Canet responding for Toulouse. Paddy Flynn kept the Eagles competitive with another try before the hosts scored twice through Planas and Kuni Minga. Lo notched his second score of the game but the final say went to Kheirallah, who kicked a drop goal.
Both sides have talented outside backs who will excite the crowd at Bloomfield Road, if given a chance. Ben Heaton and Rob Worrincy were named as the wingers for Halifax against Rochdale, with James Saltonstall not in the squad. Steve Tyrer and James Woodburn-Hall were the centres, and the former got on the scoresheet for the West Yorkshire club. Only Kuni Minga of Toulouse’s three-quarters crossed the whitewash against Sheffield, highlighting the French side’s strength all over the field. Tony Maurel and Gavin Marguerite were the wingers, while Minga and Bastien Ader started in the centre positions. If both sides play to their potential, we will be in for a treat that is for sure.
As previously mentioned, Halifax’s defeat to Toulouse earlier in the season certainly brought controversy with it and Richard Marshall’s side will certainly be motivated for this match. Toulouse’s away form was brought into the conversation earlier on in the season but they have answered critics in the perfect way by picking up some good results on their travels. Will they register another victory, this time in Blackpool? – Toulouse by 10
Batley Bulldogs v Dewsbury Rams – The Heavy Woollen derby will end this year’s Summer Bash and both sides will come into the game feeling disappointed with their current place in the league table. The Bulldogs have been poor during Matt Diskin’s debut season as coach and have been unable to work upon their place in last year’s Qualifiers. Meanwhile, Dewsbury sacked coach Glenn Morrison last month and replaced him with Neil Kelly. Two wins over the Bulldogs since Morrison’s departure will have pleased fans but they’re still four points shy of tenth-placed Swinton.
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Batley Bulldogs beat Oldham 48-28 at Manchester Regional Arena to put an end to their poor run of form. The Bulldogs went into half-time all square at 22-22 but had their backs against the wall in the opening minutes when Adam Clay and Adam Neal both bagged a try apiece. Danny Cowling and Joel Farrell responded for the Bulldogs as they levelled matters but Oldham soon hit the front once again. Clay completed his hat-trick with two more quick-fire tries but the Bulldogs soon replied again. Alistair Leak and Adam Gledhill crossed as the visitors levelled things heading into the second half. Matt Diskin’s side ended the first period with 12 men after Dom Brambani was sin-binned. With Brambani still absent, Wayne Reittie gave Batley their first lead of the match before the scrum-half returned to extend the advantage. Cain Southernwood’s penalty made it 36-22 before the West Yorkshire club wrapped up the win with tries from James Harrison and Tom Lillycrop. Brambani was sent off for dissent in the dying embers of the game and Oldham capitalised with a consolation through Danny Grimshaw.
Dewsbury Rams were beaten 52-10 against Featherstone Rovers last Saturday. The visitors were 32-4 down at the break, Lewis Fairhurst bagged Dewsbury’s only try. Tries from James Lockwood, Misi Taulapapa, Josh Hardcastle, Jason Walton and a brace from Scott Turner gave the Rovers a comfortable advantage. Cory Aston also kicked a penalty for the hosts. Walton and Frankie Mariano added tries after the restart before Shaun Squires crossed for Dewsbury. Hardcastle and Jack Ormondroyd finished the game in style with a try apiece as the hosts recorded a straightforward win.
James Davey and Alistair Leak will be wanting to punish Dewsbury’s ruck defence on Sunday as Batley look to gain their first win over the Rams this season. Davey and Leak are tricky customers to handle when they’ve got a quick play the ball to exploit and the Rams will have to be wary of their presence. Dewsbury had Tom Hemingway and Robbie Ward as their hookers against Featherstone but neither could get on the scoresheet as the Rams were easily beaten. Both players have what it takes to make a big impact against Batley and Neil Kelly will be wanting to see his dummy-halves giving Batley a tough time for 80 minutes.
The Bulldogs will be hoping they’ve turned a corner after their good second half performance against Oldham. The talent they have in their squad is certainly there for all to see but it’s been tough going for Matt Diskin in his first season in charge. A derby win against Dewsbury will certainly help his cause. The Rams need to start making ground on Swinton and the teams above them ahead of the Championship Shield, another victory against the Bulldogs would go down well with players and fans alike – Batley by 18