Rugby League


24 Aug 2023

Betfred Championship Preview | Round 23

Betfred Championship Preview | Round 23

Just five rounds remain in the Betfred Championship. With sides fighting for play-off places and for survival, here is a closer look at all seven games taking place in Round 23.

The action gets underway on Friday evening with two matches taking place.

Batley Bulldogs will host Sheffield Eagles at the Fox’s Biscuit Stadium.

Craig Lingard’s side fell short in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Final and they will be hoping to bounce back after suffering an away defeat at Keighley last weekend.

Batley have slipped down the table a bit and will be hoping to turn their fortunes around and cement their place in the play-offs.

Similar to Batley, Sheffield have also suffered a few defeats recently which has seen them slip towards the chasing pack.

Mark Aston’s side will be looking to complete the double after a 36-0 victory in Round Three.

Sheffield have won two of their previous six and are currently three points ahead of seventh place.

A win could be a huge statement to finding their place in the knockout stages.

The other game on Friday evening sees Newcastle Thunder face York Knights.

Thunder currently are bottom of the table and are five points away from safety.

Four victories in 22 matches has put Newcastle into a tough position to avoid the drop, however, a win could see them make a late surge in their season.

York Knights are a side in-form and know that a win for them would very much put them into the play-off picture.

Andrew Henderson’s side are four points outside the play-offs but could put themselves towards that position. They currently sit ninth in the table and have won their last five away meetings at Newcastle.

On Saturday, Toulouse will welcome Barrow to France.

Toulouse look set to finish second, which would see them have a home play-off match. They are yet to lose at home this season.

Olympique are eight points behind Featherstone and five ahead of third place Bradford Bulls.

Toulouse came out on top when these sides met in Round One.

Barrow moved themselves out of the relegation places on Monday evening.

Paul Crarey’s side defeated Cumbrian rivals, Whitehaven live on Viaplay Sports. Ryan Johnson’s drop-goal in the final minute saw Barrow move up to 11th in the table.

Featherstone could become the Betfred Championship League Leaders Shield winners if Toulouse fail to win and they defeat Keighley on Sunday.

Rovers have stood out as the most dominant side in the table and if they don’t secure it this week, it is likely they may do it the following week.

Featherstone have won their previous 16 meetings with Keighley, including the opening round 50-0 success.

Keighley won their first match under head coach, Matt Foster last Sunday.

The Cougars defeated Batley 26-20 in a victory which could be huge in their bid for survival.

Keighley have failed to win at Featherstone since 1996.

Halifax and Widnes meet at the Shay, with both sides outside the play-offs but will be looking to burst into the top six.

Halifax Panthers secured some silverware after beating Batley at Wembley in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Final.

Simon Grix’s side were comfortably defeated by London last week, but they will need to bounce back if they are to end the season in the top six.

Adam Tangata could make his 200th career appearance. The Cook Islands international has made 174 appearances for Halifax and also made three appearances in 2019 for Widnes.

The Vikings did defeat Halifax earlier in the season by a scoreline of 42-14.

Widnes know a victory could move them into that top six, however, a defeat last week to York will mean they have to improve.

Widnes have won their last two away matches.

London Broncos are another side who have improved which has seen them put themselves into a position for the play-offs.

The Broncos have won the last two meetings between the two sides this season, one of which was a Challenge Cup tie.

London have four home games remaining and that could aid them on their way to getting a play-off place.

Whitehaven were defeated late on during Monday’s Viaplay fixture against Barrow.

Haven look like they could be in a strong position for safety, however, they would prefer to end the season with some victories to make sure of their status.

The final match of the weekend sees Swinton Lions host Bradford Bulls.

Due to points difference, Swinton are currently in the relegation places.

Last weekend, Swinton lost 26-6 away at Toulouse which showed a strong level of fight, this had followed a home victory against Keighley.

Swinton have produced some big performances this season and home, a success against Bradford would not be a surprise.

The Bulls have picked up at the right time of the year and will head into this contest in third position.

Bradford have won their last seven away meetings with Swinton. They have not lost to the Lions since 1985.

The Bulls defeated Swinton earlier in the season in an entertaining 44-38 contest at Odsal.

Bradford will be looking for a few more wins to put themselves into the play-offs and in contention for promotion.