Kingstone Press Championship previews:
Sheffield Eagles v York City Knights (7.30pm)
Young forward Connor Scott is set for a place in Mark Aston’s Sheffield Eagles squad for Friday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash with York City Knights.
The 19-year-old made two appearances last year and has impressed Aston in training this term.
Now he looks likely to get his opportunity in the Eagles’ first game of 2013 at Bramall Lane.
York coach Gary Thornton is in buoyant mood, despite his side’s 18-14 loss against Halifax last week.
Thornton said: “We would have been good value to win the game. We deserved more than a bonus point.
“We asked for a reaction after the Batley defeat and we certainly got it. Hopefully that will be a marker for the rest of the season.
“We’ll go into Friday’s game a lot more confident, and we know we can compete with teams in the top five.
“Sheffield is a different challenge to Halifax. They play on a very wide pitch, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Sam Scott (pelvis) is likely to miss the match with his old club, while Ed Smith (dead leg) is also doubtful.
However, Jason Golden and James Ford are set to return to the Knights’ match-day squad.
Sunday March 3:
Hunslet Hawks v Doncaster (3.00pm)
Hunslet coach Barry Eaton believes a second win of the season is just around the corner – providing the Hawks keep hold of the ball.
Eaton’s men have not won since a 42-12 victory over Barrow Raiders on the opening weekend of the Kingstone Press Championship season.
Last week they lost 36-18 at Featherstone Rovers, following other defeats against Leigh Centurions and Dewsbury Rams, but Eaton’s faith remains undiminished.
Eaton said: “Although the score was against us at half time against Featherstone, we weren’t banging our heads against the wall in disgust at our own performance.
“It’s no coincidence that in our previous two defeats, our completion rate had been a big downfall for us. On Sunday we played the best side in the competition, but we were able to make the right decisions in the second half because our completion rate was in the right area.”
He added: “We’re confident going into this game against Doncaster. The belief and mentality within the camp is pretty good.
“We’re at home and confident, but we’re also aware that Doncaster are a good side. They look like they’re well and truly able to compete at this level.”
Hunslet are set to be unchanged from last week, while Mike Kelly and Chris Spurr could both come back into contention for the Dons.
Keighley Cougars v Leigh Centurions (3.00pm)
Keighley Cougars coach Paul March has been dealt a major blow with the news that Daley Williams faces at least six weeks on the sidelines with broken ribs.
However, Ollie Pursglove could return to action on Sunday to boost March’s options.
March’s side collected their third successive bonus point with a 20-10 defeat against Swinton Lions last week.
March said: “We are so close but yet so far. The last time we won was in July, and losing becomes a habit just as much as winning.
“We need to get out of the losing habit pretty quickly, but I believe in the ability of the squad and coaching staff to turn it around.”
On Leigh Centurions, he added: “They’ve signed some quality players in guys like Sean Penkywicz, but I don’t think they’ve fully gelled yet. Maybe it’s a good time to catch them.”
Centurions coach Paul Rowley has doubts over two unnamed forwards, but insists: “We’ve more than enough cover. We’ll be happy with the squad we put out.”
Rowley added: “Keighley aren’t a bad side. They’ve been through a big transition and they’ll get better over time. They’ve some good personnel.
“Everyone talks about Paul March being rugged, but he’s also a smart footballer and people forget that at times. He epitomises what Keighley are all about.”
Swinton Lions v Dewsbury Rams (3.00pm)
Swinton Lions’ caretaker coach Ian Watson will be without Chris Clarke (broken thumb) and Jordan Burke (ankle) for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship fixture with Dewsbury Rams.
Burke is expected to miss six weeks of action in news that comes as a major blow to the Lions.
However, Chas I’Anson is set to return to action on Sunday, giving Watson a timely boost as Swinton look to back up last week’s win at Keighley.
Impressive Dewsbury racked up a 46-8 triumph against Whitehaven in a performance that pleased coach Glenn Morrison.
He said: “We’re probably going to run with the same squad this week.
“I was really impressed with our boys last week – they completed their sets and put on display what we’ve been working on in training.”
He added: “Swinton are a quality side, and Richie Hawkyard is someone I’ve known since my Bradford days.
“Teams like that just need one win – which they got last week – and then they generally kick on from there. We’ll have to take our A game.”
Whitehaven v Featherstone Rovers (3.00pm)
Whitehaven coach Dave Woods has challenged his players to bounce back from last week’s 46-8 defeat against Dewsbury Rams.
‘Haven started life in the Kingstone Press Championship with back-to-back wins, but have now fallen to successive defeats.
Woods said: “We can’t change what’s happened, but we’ve got to react to it now.
“We’ve got to forget about our performance against Dewsbury and move on.
“It’s one tough game after another tough game in this league, but we’re at home on Sunday – that’s the good thing about it.
“Hopefully we can right a few wrongs from last week and show some improvement.”
Woods has no new injury concerns, while Featherstone Rovers coach Daryl Powell could also name an unchanged side from last week’s 36-18 win against Hunslet Hawks.
However, Powell is demanding more defensive concentration from his squad.
He said: “(Conceding) 18 points is too many. We need to dip down on that and improve our standards.
“There’s loads of improvement in us, and we’ve got a lot of work to do from a mentality point of view to improve on that in future games.”
Workington Town v Barrow Raiders (3.00pm)
Workington Town coach Gary Charlton has a major doubt over Mark Calderwood for Sunday’s derby with Barrow Raiders.
The former England winger, who was selected in the Premier Sports Team of the Week after scoring two tries in last week’s 28-24 defeat against Sheffield Eagles, landed awkwardly after catching a kick.
But despite the concern over Calderwood, Charlton remains in confident mood.
He said: “We have three winnable games coming up in the next month against teams that will be around us in the table. We’ve got to be looking to be picking up points.”
Raiders coach Darren Holt has a slight worry over Kurt Haggerty (knee), but has no new major injuries to contend with.
Holt’s men are still searching for their first win in the Kingstone Press Championship, having lost 20-10 against Batley Bulldogs in their latest fixture.
Holt said: “Our performance against Batley was a big step forward. For the majority of the game we came out on top.
“It should be a benchmark performance for us, and we should be looking to improve each week on it.”
On Workington, Holt added: “We played each other four times last year and while there are some new faces on both sides, these games always follow a similar pattern.
“Workington have gone well at home this year. We’ll look at DVDs and see if there’s anything we can exploit, but we know it will be a big test for us.”