Rugby League


14 Sep 2023

Betfred Championship Preview | Round 26

Betfred Championship Preview | Round 26

It is the penultimate round of fixtures in the Betfred Championship. With just two rounds to go, but there is still a lot to play for throughout the table.

Newcastle Thunder will host Barrow Raiders in the opening fixture of the weekend.

After losing at home to Featherstone Rovers, Thunder were relegated to Betfred League One. Chris Thorman’s side have won four games and drawn another this season. Their one draw did come against Barrow Raiders earlier in the season.

Thunder will be looking to end the season on a positive as they build towards next season.

Barrow Raiders know a win would be vital for their Championship survival.

The Raiders beat Swinton 32-14 which saw them take a huge step to survival and move them three points above the drop. A win would secure their place in the Championship for next season.

Paul Crarey’s side have won some crucial games this season, including their away win at Whitehaven earlier in the campaign.

The other game on Saturday will see the top two sides meet in France, as Toulouse Olympique host Featherstone Rovers.

Toulouse have not dropped points at home this season, with only points being dropped away from home. However, Toulouse did travel to Featherstone and defeat them in Round 14.

Toulouse have had some important success at home to Featherstone. In 2021, Toulouse defeated Featherstone 34-12 in the Championship Grand Final.

Jake Shorrocks could make his 100th career appearance. Shorrocks joined Toulouse ahead of the season and has made 23 appearances this season.

James Ford’s side will be looking for a big win ahead of the play-offs.

Since losing in Round 21 at Halifax, Rovers have not lost since. That was only their second league defeat of the season.

This season, Rovers have been the best side statistically in attack and defence. Featherstone has scored nearly 200 points more than their opposition on Saturday, meanwhile, in defence they have conceded nearly 70 points left.

On Sunday, both Keighley Cougars and Halifax Panthers will both be looking for a win for their season.

The Cougars sit two points ahead of Swinton Lions in 12th place, meanwhile Halifax are seventh and sit one point behind the play-offs.

Keighley struggled during one point of the season, however, they have picked up key wins under Matt Foster.

With wins against Batley Bulldogs and Barrow Raiders, have put themselves into a position which their destiny is in their own hands.

Brad Walker could make his 100th career appearance. Walker has made 21 appearances this season.

The Cougars’ last home victory against Halifax came in March 2006.

Simon Grix’s side will travel to Keighley at the weekend, as the club search for the 15th consecutive victory in a row.

After a dip in form, Halifax have won consecutive games against Whitehaven and Toulouse which has put them back into a strong position for the play-offs.

Joe Keyes and Louis Joufret linked up well last weekend, which helped in their victory over the side who sit second place.

The Round 6 victory against Keighley was the first meeting between the two sides for nine years.

London Broncos have won nine of their last ten matches and they will look to extend that run as they host Bradford Bulls this weekend.

The Broncos have turned a corner at the right time which has seen them fly up the table into fourth position.

London will be looking for their first home victory over Bradford since their 42-12 win in 2017.

Dean Parata could make his 150th appearance this weekend. The Italian international has made 57 appearances for London since joining ahead of last season.

Bradford slipped below London into fifth last week after losing at home to York Knights last week.

The Bulls have lost their last two matches, however, they have won their last three away matches.

With 29 points, Bradford sit two points ahead of Halifax Panthers in seventh place.

One of the biggest games of the weekend will see Swinton Lions face Whitehaven at Heywood Road.

Swinton are currently occupying the final relegation spot, however, if Swinton defeat Whitehaven by four points it will see them overtake Haven.

The Lions have lost their last four, with their last victory coming against Keighley 18-10 in Round 21.

Allan Coleman’s side have showed resilience this season and are no strangers to big results at home. They defeated Toulouse and another performance like that would go a long way towards a big victory.

Jake Spedding joined Swinton before the season and his 21 appearances this year has seen him move to 99 career appearances.

Jonty Gorley will take his side to Swinton knowing a win would keep them in the Betfred Championship.

Whitehaven have won their last two matches with Swinton and will be hoping to came that record going.

Whitehaven have failed to win their last four matches, with a 32-20 win at home to Sheffield Eagles in their Round 21 match.

The final match on Sunday will see Widnes Vikings face Sheffield Eagles. 

Sheffield are currently third and looking to get a home fixture during the opening week of the play-offs. Meanwhile, Widnes are eighth and sit two points behind Batley.

Mark Aston’s side won the meeting earlier in the season at Olympic Legacy Park when the sides met in Round Five.

Ben Jones-Bishop has scored a try in each of Sheffield’s last three meetings with Widnes.

In opposition, Widnes’ Danny Craven has scored in the last four meetings with the Eagles.

The final match of the round will see York Knights face Batley Bulldogs live on Viaplay on Monday evening.

York Knights have been in good form and have put themselves in outside contention of reaching the play-offs. Meanwhile, Batley were third at one point and now have dropped to sixth.

Batley have won the last three meetings between the two sides.