Rugby League


25 May 2023

Betfred Championship Preview | Summer Bash

Betfred Championship Preview | Summer Bash

The Betfred Championship will head to North Yorkshire this weekend, with all seven matches taking place across two days at York’s LNER Community Stadium.

The Summer Bash will get underway as Widnes Vikings face Swinton Lions at 12:45PM on Saturday afternoon.

John Kear’s side sit sixth in the table with six victories from 11 Betfred Championship matches.

The Vikings will head to York looking to get rid of their winless record at the event. They have failed to register a victory on their two previous visits to the event.

However, Widnes have the upper hand on their opposition for Saturday. The Vikings have won their previous 17 meetings, including their Round Eight meeting this season.

On-loan signing, Zach Eckersley made an impressive debut, as he completed a hat-trick during Widnes’ 48-16 success over the Lions.

Adam Lawton could make his 100th career appearance. The forward has scored four tries in his last three appearances against Swinton.

Swinton started the season well with two wins from their opening three matches, however, they have found it tougher since. In their last eight matches, the Lions have won just one, but that one success was a 19-12 win against Toulouse Olympique.

Swinton will be making their fifth appearance at Summer Bash. In their previous four matches, they have a 75% strike rate with three wins and one defeat.

The match will be the first meeting between the two sides at Summer Bash.

Game two will see a Cumbrian derby as Barrow Raiders face Whitehaven.

The Raiders have struggled in 2023, but a strong performance against Bradford will give some encouragement going forward. Barrow ran in eight tries during their 46-12 win over the Bulls.

Barrow currently occupy 13th place heading into the fixture and will be looking for revenge after losing to Whitehaven earlier in the campaign.

Paul Crarey’s side have won just one of three visits to Summer Bash, but that one victory did come last season against Widnes Vikings.

The Raiders completed the double over Haven last season. A 18-4 win in Round Two was followed later in the season with a 40-6 victory in Round 18.

Haven will be looking for their second win in the city of York this season and their fifth Betfred Championship success.

Whitehaven hit a rich vein of form with three wins within four matches, after defeating York; Barrow and Newcastle, however, they have suffered defeats to Keighley and Halifax since.

Whitehaven have won two of their three visits to Summer Bash, which included a Cumbrian derby success against Workington Town in 2022.

The penultimate game on Day One sees London Broncos face Toulouse Olympique.

London will be seeking revenge after suffering a 52-0 defeat in France to Toulouse in Round Eight.

Saturday’s match will be a sixth visit to Bash for London, with a previous record of three wins and two defeats.

Former New Zealand international, Dean Whare has joined the capital side and could make his Broncos debut. Whare has made 19 appearances for New Zealand and also featured 36 times in the Super League for Catalans Dragons.

In the Championship, London ended a three-game winless run with a success against Barrow Raiders in Round 11.

Toulouse have impressed in France this season but have found it tougher away from home.

Olympique have lost their last two trips with a 19-12 defeat at Swinton followed by a narrow 17-16 against Batley Bulldogs.

Saturday’s meeting will be the second between the two sides at Summer Bash. Toulouse came out on top with a 40-28 win in 2018, which included an outstanding long range try.

Toulouse head into the match in third position with seven wins from their 11 league matches.

Day One is rounded off when York Knights face the unbeaten Featherstone Rovers.

York became the last Championship side standing in the Challenge Cup after defeating London last weekend. That success was a four straight victory for the Knights in all competitions.

Andrew Henderson’s side are eighth in the table with five wins in the Betfred Championship.

York have a 50% strike rate at Bash with their one victory coming last year against Newcastle Thunder.

Featherstone Rovers head into Saturday’s game with a perfect 11 from 11 record in the Championship this season.

Sean Long’s have opened up a six point gap at the top of the table and they will be looking to keep their winning streak going.

Rovers will be without on-loan half-back Riley Dean, who has been recalled by Warrington Wolves.

Gareth Gale scored a hat-trick during Featherstone’s 46-4 win over York earlier in the season.

Rovers have struggled at Summer Bash in previous years. From six matches, Rovers have won just one which did come against York.

Newcastle and Sheffield get the Day two Championship action underway.

Chris Thorman’s Thunder side have struggled to capitalise since their opening game success against Swinton Lions.

The North East side have three points this season and will be looking for a second win of the season on Sunday.

Newcastle’s last win against Sheffield was a 24-16 contest in Round Three of the Championship during the 2021 season.

Mark Aston’s Eagles have flown up the table into second position and will be looking to continue their push towards top spot.

Eight wins, sees Sheffield sat two points ahead of Toulouse, Halifax and Batley. Thackeray has scored 61 tries for Sheffield and currently is sat with 247 in his career.

Anthony Thackeray has scored six tries in his previous three contests against Newcastle. 

The Eagles have already defeated Newcastle this season. Sheffield travelled to Newcastle at the beginning of April and defeated Thunder 44-20.

Batley Bulldogs will face fellow West Yorkshire side Halifax Panthers.

Craig Lingard’s side have produced some big performances in 2023 and will be looking to overtake Halifax on Sunday.

The Bulldogs have won five of their last six Betfred Championship matches. Their one defeat was an 18-26 home defeat to Featherstone in Round Eight.

On their last trip to the Bash, Batley broke numerous Summer Bash records. Lingard’s side beat Dewsbury 60-6 in the Heavy Woollen Derby. This was the most tries scored by one side, widest margin and biggest score in the events history.

Halifax have won their last three Betfred Championship matches and gave a good account of themselves last week against World Champions, St Helens, in the Betfred Challenge Cup.

Simon Grix’s side sit above Batley due to a better points difference. Halifax have already defeated Batley once this season. Despite trailing at the break, the Panthers began to assert their dominance on their way to the success.

Halifax have won the previous two meetings between the two sides.

The final game of Summer Bash sees Bradford Bulls face Keighley Cougars in a West Yorkshire derby.

Bradford Bulls have had a mixed season so far with six wins from 11 matches.

After a 46-12 defeat to Barrow, Bradford parted company with head coach, Mark Dunning. Since his departure, Bradford beat Swinton 44-38 in a high scoring contest at Odsal.

Bradford will be looking to settle the score after suffering a 34-6 defeat at Cougar Park in Round Seven.

Keighley Cougars will be making their first appearance at Summer Bash.

The Cougars also parted ways with their head coach recently and will be looking to continue their push towards the play-offs.

Keighley are ninth in the table, however, a win could see them overtake their opposition on Sunday.

The Cougars scored four tries in a ten minute period in the previous meeting which asserted their dominance.


Summer Bash Fixtures:


  • Widnes Vikings v Swinton Lions – 12:45PM – Live on Our League
  • Whitehaven v Barrow Raiders – 3PM – Live on Our League
  • London Broncos v Toulouse – 5:15PM – Live on Viaplay Sports
  • Featherstone Rovers v York Knights – 7:30PM – Live on Viaplay Sports



  • Newcastle Thunder v Sheffield Eagles – 1:45PM – Live on Our League
  • Halifax Panthers v Batley Bulldogs – 4PM – Live on Our League
  • Bradford Bulls v Keighley Cougars – 6:15PM – Live on Our League