12th August 2016, 14:06 | league1

League 1 Shield Round 4 Previews

League 1 Shield Round 4 Previews

Oxford v Newcastle Thunder (Saturday, 2:30pm)

Oxford notched up their second successive win with a 46-10 victory over Hemel Stags. Coach Tim Rumford said: “I think it’s just desserts for our lads because they’ve stuck at it and worked really hard. The challenge now is having won two on the bounce, not to get ahead of ourselves and realise that this weekend’s challenge is a very, very different one to the last couple of weeks.

“Newcastle are a good side and a good club. They’ve got great standards and their coach is a pretty smart guy. He’s recruited quite well but done it with a lot of sense. We’ll still be trying to knock them about a bit on Saturday.

“They’ve put themselves in that upper echelon of the league and it would be seen as taking a scalp if we were to beat Newcastle.”

Newcastle Thunder notched up their fourth consecutive win with a 30-14 home victory over North Wales Crusaders. Coach Mick Mantelli said: “The boys played well. Some of the teams below us are playing some good footy, so we’ve just got to make sure that we’re up for footy every week.

“Any team that puts wins together like Oxford are starting to hit form and once you get in form it’s hard to lose it, so we’re expecting a very tough game against them.”

North Wales Crusaders v Coventry Bears (Sunday, 2:30pm)

North Wales Crusaders lost 30-14 at Newcastle Thunder and arriving late for the game didn’t help according to coach Anthony Murray said: “To be honest, in the first half I thought we were still on the coach. We arrived late and they had to postpone the kick-off. But take nothing away from Newcastle, they seem to have a habit of starting games really fast and punish you early. That’s what they did, it was a bad day at the office but they were the better team on the day.

“Coventry will be seeing this week’s game as an opportunity to claw some points back. The incentive for us is that if we beat Coventry then we’re in the Shield final, it’s as simple as that. It’s a semi-final if you like and I’m hoping we can raise our game.”

Wing Andy Oakden is struggling with a back injury but forward Alex Thompson and hooker Lee Hudson return.

Coventry Bears lost 18-14 at home to South Wales Scorpions which was bitterly disappointing for coach Tom Tsang said: “The South Wales half-backs gave us a lesson in game management,” he said. “Having said that, we created at least double the opportunities that they had but they happened to take theirs.

“We got a draw against North Wales last time out but we felt we could have got the win. We’ll be going up there with pretty much the same team but with a bit of fire in the belly so hopefully we’ll be able to turn it around.”

University of Gloucestershire All Golds v Hemel Stags (Sunday, 3:00pm)

University of Gloucestershire All Golds were without a game last week and have lost both their Shield games to Newcastle Thunder and Oxford. Coach Lee Greenwood said: “We’ve had a bit of time to lick our wounds. There was some dented pride from staff and players. We’ve got Hemel on Sunday and they’ll be looking to do the same to us as Oxford did.

“We’re certainly not where we wanted to be at the start of the year, but we are and our goal for the season now is probably about not finishing last. We need to win this one for our own confidence and sanity.”

Hemel Stags continued their poor run of form with a 46-10 defeat at Oxford. Coach Troy Perkins said: “It was probably one of the most disappointing performances of the season. We’d trained well and the quality we had in our team was, in my opinion, enough to get a win. But when we took the field we were pretty ordinary – there was a lack of respect for the ball, too many soft penalties.

“I thought we’d been turning the corner a little bit over the last couple of weeks but we went back to being very ordinary. We’ve got four games to try and get a couple of results and we need to be way better this week against an All Golds team that probably haven’t lived up to expectations either so we’ll both be desperate for that result. Individually we’ve got some quality there but we need to put it together.”