Rugby League


7 Sep 2023

Betfred Championship Preview Round 25

Betfred Championship Preview Round 25

Just three rounds remain in the Betfred Championship before sides head to the play-offs. Here is a closer look at all fixtures taking place in Round 25.

Sheffield Eagles will host Keighley Cougars on Friday evening.

Mark Aston’s side will be looking to bounce back from their home defeat to London last weekend, a victory would pretty much seal a place in the play-offs for the Eagles.

Sheffield are fourth in the table with 14 wins from their 24 matches, which sees them sit two points above seventh place and with a superior points difference.

The Eagles came out in the previous meeting this season. Ben Jones-Bishop and Kris Welham both scored braces during the 46-18 contest in Round 11.

Keighley secured a vital win last weekend, as they came from behind to defeat Barrow Raiders at Cougar Park.

With two wins in their last three, Matt Foster’s Keighley Cougars have turned their fortunes around and put their hopes of survival in their own hands.

The wins have seen Keighley rise up the table into 10th position, two points ahead of the drop zone. 

The other game on Friday sees the League Leaders Shield winners, Featherstone Rovers, travel to Newcastle to face a Thunder side who will be relegated, if they are unable to get a win.

James Ford’s side travelled to Bradford last weekend, knowing a point at Odsal would be enough to see them seal top spot. With the sides split by just two points heading into the final 15 minutes. Joey Leilua barged his way through the Bulls’ defence before offloading to Caleb Aekins for a crucial score in the 16-8 contest.

Leuilua has a good record against Newcastle, scoring in his each of last three appearances.

Friday’s meeting will be the 18th meeting between the two sides, Featherstone have won 16 of these, with the other resulting in a draw.

Chris Thorman’s side need a win to keep their hopes of survival alive.

Thunder have struggled with four wins this season, however, they have made Kingston Park a tough place to travel on occasions.

Saturday will see one game taking place, as Halifax Panthers host Toulouse at the Shay. 

Simon Grix’s side put in a strong second half display which saw them power away against Whitehaven. The victory moved Halifax within one point of the play-offs.

The Panthers have made it difficult for sides travelling to the Shay this season and could be a tough game.

Toulouse know that they are set to finish second. After last weekend, they are unable to catch Featherstone for top spot, meanwhile, Bradford Bulls sit third and are seven points behind with just six points to play for. 

Saturday’s visitors have impressed throughout the season and look one of the main contenders for promotion.

A blip early in the season saw Featherstone open up a gap which they’ve been unable to bridge.

A huge game on Sunday will take place in Cumbria when Barrow Raiders and Swinton Lions meet.

Swinton are 13th in the table and are currently going to be relegated, however, they sit one point behind Barrow. A win for Allan Coleman’s side would see them move out of the relegation spots. 

Paul Crarey’s Barrow Raiders came up with a huge away win at Whitehaven in front of the Viaplay cameras over a fortnight ago, however, they’ve been unable to find another since. Last week they were pegged by at Cougar Park by a Keighley side who are fighting for their safety.

Barrow came out 32-14 victors when the sides met earlier in the season during the Round Three Challenge Cup tie, however, Swinton did edge the league contest.

Swinton have two vital game coming up against Barrow and Newcastle, victories in both would pretty much secure their place in the Championship for next season.

Swinton’s last win was in Round 21, at home to Keighley. 

Kenny Baker could make his 150th career appearance this weekend. Baker joined Swinton this season and has made 22 appearances for the Lions.

Batley are in need of a winner to boost their hopes of a play-off spot. They welcome Whitehaven to the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium on Sunday.

Craig Lingard’s side have won just one of their last nine matches, which has seen them slip down to 7th in the table and outside the play-offs.

Batley narrowly defeated Whitehaven when the sides met in Round Seven. 

With three games remaining, it’s key that Batley turn their form around to make the top six.

Whitehaven are another side who need a win, however, theirs would be to help boost their hopes of survival.

Haven sit two points ahead of the drop zone and a win would help to secure their Championship status for 2024.

Whitehaven pushed Halifax close in the first half last week, but were unable to continue through the second 40.

Bradford Bulls head into their fixture with York knowing a win pretty much confirms their spot in the top six.

Bradford were defeated by eight points last weekend at home to the league leaders, Featherstone.

The Bulls are set to have a home game in the initial week of the play-offs which could be huge for them to progress.

Bradford had won their previous three until last week and will be hoping to pick up again before the play-offs.

They face a York Knights side who need wins to stay in contention for the top six.

Andrew Henderson’s side have won seven of their last eight matches which has moved them to two points away from sixth place as it stands.

Hooker, Will Jubb has scored in each of his last three matches against Bradford, including their victory earlier in the season.

Two sides fighting to remain in the play-offs after being outside them for so long are London Broncos and Widnes Vikings. The two sides will meet in the capital this Sunday.

Mike Eccles’ Broncos side are one of the most in form teams with 8 wins from their last nine fixtures.

A victory would nearly confirm their spot in the final six.

 London got the victory when the sides met earlier in the season and will be looking to complete a league double.

Corey Norman and Alex Walker could both have milestone appearances. Norman is just one appearance away from 250 in his career, meanwhile, an appearance on Sunday would be the 150th appearance Walker has made for London.

Widnes travel down to London knowing they’ve won their last three visits. Their last defeat was in 2012.

The Vikings have also been on a good run with six wins from their last seven, which has seen them rise up to sixth in the table.

The good form could see Widnes do well if they are to finish in the top six.

Tom Gilmore is a player who returned to Widnes this season. Gilmore made it to the Championship Grand Final last season with Batley, Gilmore could make his 150th career appearance. The half-back has featured 72 times for the Vikings.



  • Sheffield Eagles v Keighley Cougars - 7:30PM
  • Newcastle Thunder v Featherstone Rovers - 8PM


  • Halifax Panthers v Toulouse - 6PM


  • Barrow Raiders v Swinton - 3PM
  • Batley Bulldogs v Whitehaven - 3PM
  • Bradford Bulls v York Knights - 3PM
  • London Broncos v Widnes Vikings - 3PM