Rugby League


28 Feb 2022

National Conference League ready for kick off this weekend

National Conference League ready for kick off this weekend

The National Conference League gets underway this weekend with a host of eye-catching fixtures for fans to enjoy.

Topping the bill in the Premier Division is Egremont Rangers v Hunslet Club Parkside. Both sides have something to prove.

Coaching Rangers is former player, lead youth coach, and assistant John Wells who has enjoyed a long association and he thinks the club is well equipped for the season following friendly wins against Hensingham and Seaton Rangers.

"We have got a mixed squad this year, so we are having to adapt players to play in different positions." 

Having been in charge for two years, Wells has overseen a change in culture. "We've made everything mean a bit more to every player, helping them visualise what success looks like. I don't mean that in picking a trophy up, I just mean about being competitive every week. It's about everyone knowing where they are and how to get better.

"We've lost a lot of players over the last 18 months due to retirement or them turning pro and a big chunk of those were our pivot players. We are there as coaching staff to develop every player."

Looking ahead to the challenge posed by Hunslet Club Parkside, Wells is excited. "Here we are, this tiny little market town in West Cumbria and we are taking on Hunslet Club Parkside on Saturday. They are a fantastic club, and I use them as an example of what you can achieve in a short space of time.

"The way they came through the NCL leagues and then three years ago they were unbeaten and took the Premiership title, that's a lesson to us all! When you look at the catchment areas of some of the clubs in the NCL Premier, it's great that we can compete with them!"

Over at Hunslet Club Parkside, they are coming into the NCL battle-hardened after getting through to Round Four of the Betfred Challenge Cup for the first time in their history.

Coach Steve Thorpe felt the games were the perfect springboard into the league season. "We are definitely hoping to be there or thereabouts again this year."

He said, "We can't be the only NCL Premier side to struggle to get friendlies. We've done well in this cup and it's probably been a good thing for us. There is some real talent in the NCL. I said at half-time against Sheffield Eagles that we will play tougher games than this in the NCL and be in tougher positions. We picked up a few injuries and that showed at the end of the game. There are two of those that definitely won't play, but we'll see how everyone else comes through this week."

"It's always a hard place to go is Egremont, as is Cumbria in general. I think we have done well on our previous trips. It's always difficult to get a result, but I hope we can start the season well."

Lots of other fixtures offer the prospect of exciting action, including NCL starts for new boys Bentley and Seaton Rangers in Division Three. After giving a great BetFred Challenge Cup account of themselves against Stanningley, Bentley host. Visiting are rejuvenated Hensingham who have former PNG international and Whitehaven favourite Jessie Joe Parker at the helm. Seaton Rangers and their new boss Ryan Campbell get to test themselves with a home tie against Wakefield side Eastmoor Dragons.

Premier Division

  • Egremont Rangers v Hunslet Club Parkside
  • Leigh Miners Rangers v Pilkington Recs
  • Wath Brow Hornets v Lock Lane
  • Rochdale Mayfield v  York Acorn
  • Thatto Heath v Siddal
  • Thornhill Trojans v West Hull

Division One

  • Featherstone Lions v Kells
  • Milford v Oulton Raiders
  • Myton Warriors v Saddleworth Rangers
  • Skirlaugh v Hull Dockers
  • West Bowling v Stanningley
  • Wigan St Patricks v Ince Rose Bridge

Division Two

  • Crosfields v Barrow Island
  • Dewsbury Celtic v Bradford Dudley Hill
  • Heworth v Dewsbury Moor Maroons
  • Hunslet Warriors v Beverley
  • Normanton Knights v Wigan St Judes
  • Woolston Rovers v Clock Face Miners

Division Three

  • Batley Boys v Millom
  • Bentley v Hensingham
  • East Leeds v Drighlington
  • Leigh East v Shaw Cross Sharks
  • Seaton Rangers v Eastmoor Dragons
  • Waterhead Warriors v Oldham St Annes

All games are set to kick off at 2.30pm.