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The Northern Preview - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Sat, 01 Mar 2008 10:32:00 GMT
What's more exciting then putting man on the moon? The answer is Neil Barraclough's weekly preview of the Northern Rail Cup.

FRIDAY 29TH FEBRUARY
OLDHAM v ROCHDALE HORNETS

Oldham boss Steve Deakin will be without Matty Brooks (knee) and Daryl Cardiss (dislocated shoulder) for Friday's game against Rochdale.

Six more players are also undergoing treatment in an attempt to be fit for the clash.

Deakin said: "At this stage it is just a case of monitoring and managing the injury situation on a day-to-day basis.

"We have to bear in mind that we play Rochdale twice in six days -- Friday and then Wednesday -- and then on the Sunday it's the Carnegie Challenge Cup: that's three games in ten days.

"On the one hand we don't want to do too much swopping and changing, but on the other we need to look at the bruised bodies and look also at the demands that will be made on the squad in the next 10 days."

Hornets' coach Bobbie Goulding is hoping to include Chris Campbell and Wayne Corcoran but Jamie Benn definitely won't feature. He has returned to Featherstone after an unsuccessful loan spell at Rochdale.

Goulding's side lost 38-34 against Swinton last week after conceding a last minute try. Goulding said: "I feel we're one of the fittest sides in the league but we were really poor in the last set of six.

Nobody put their body on the line in that last minute or two.

"Everybody was waiting for somebody else to do it. People have got to start putting their hand up and taking responsibility and that's what I'm looking for this week."

SALFORD CITY REDS v SWINTON LIONS

Reds' coach Shaun McRae wants his side to show their spirit and commitment against local rivals Swinton.

Salford fell to their first defeat of 2008 last week, going down 18-14 against Oldham.

McRae admitted: "Maybe it's been building. I was a little critical of us after the Swinton game and I could feel it building for a number of weeks.

"I'm hoping it (the defeat) has done us the world of good. I don't mind being beaten but it's the way we got beat that was a concern."

In contrast, Swinton approach the game in high spirits after their first victory of the year came in 38-34 thriller against Rochdale.

Lions' boss Paul Kidd said: "There were still things we can improve on and we know we will have to do so before Friday."

SATURDAY 1ST MARCH
CELTIC CRUSADERS v LONDON SKOLARS

Luke Dyer (groin), Aaron Summers and Terry Martin are all expected to miss out for the Crusaders on Saturday, but Anthony Blackwood and Chris Beasley could both return to John Dixon's line up.

Dixon said: "I said a few weeks ago that the Skolars are improving every time we play them.
"Their win at Sheffield last week just proves how far they've come.
We're looking forward to an exciting contest at the Brewery Field on Saturday."

Skolars' coach Tony Benson is hoping last week's thrilling win over Sheffield can boost belief among his squad.

Benson said: "It gives the players lot of confidence. They need to know that what we're doing is right. They're very talented athletes but sometimes they're not game-savvy.

This result emphasised to them what's important in the game.

"Last time we played Celtic we were unlucky not to win and then not to get a bonus point. We know they've improved since then but hopefully so have we.

We'll have to maintain what we've done and add to it - if we don't, they're the type of team that will punish us." Liam Daly faces a late fitness test for the visitors.

SUNDAY 2ND MARCH
BARROW RAIDERS v LEIGH CENTURIONS

Barrow coach Dave Clark is expected to make numerous changes to his starting line-up after a young Raiders side lost 78-0 against Widnes on Wednesday night.

Pat Weisner could keep his place but Clark will opt to fill his squad with experience for Sunday's clash against Leigh.

Clark said: "This is a game we've been targeting. Leigh have competed well in the Northern Rail Cup and they've come through undefeated.

They'll ask big questions of us during the game, we know that."

Andy Hobson (elbow) is Leigh's main injury concern, with Centurions' football manager Darren Shaw admitting he was rated "doubtful" at best.

Leigh beat Widnes 20-10 last weekend, with Shaw challenging his troops to continue their form.

He said: "We got together on Tuesday night and all our talk was about maintaining this level of performance."

BATLEY BULLDOGS v HUNSLET HAWKS

Batley boss Gary Thornton expects to be boosted by the return of Tim Spears and Craig Farrell.

Jamie Stokes (knee) is still on the Bulldogs' treatment table but Thornton remains confident, despite last week's 32-16 defeat against Dewsbury.

Thornton said: "We played OK in the first half but then the wheels fell off and we got too involved in the emotional side of things.

"But there were encouraging signs and we're happy with where we are at this stage of the season.

"We beat Hunslet quite easily earlier in this competition but this will be a very difficult game - I know they've improved over the last few weeks.

"They're going to come to the Mount wanting to put a few things right.

It'll be a really tough test for us."
Hunslet boss Graeme Hallas could hand debuts to two new signings if the paperwork can be completed in time. Hallas is hoping to sign at least one player on Thursday evening, with another possibility in the
pipelines.

If the deals go through, the un-named pair will be added to the same 17 that took on Gateshead last week.

FEATHERSTONE ROVERS v DEWSBURY RAMS

Rovers' coach David Hobbs will be without Paul Handforth as he looks for his side to bounce back after last week's draw against York.

Hobbs said: "It was a little bit frustrating and we didn't play particularly well. We set off OK and got 10-0 up but it was a scrappy affair and we were disappointed we didn't produce enough to put them away.

"We allowed them to get back into the game and that was what cost us. I guess the pleasing thing was that we tied the game in the last few minutes, but I expected better.

"Dewsbury had a decent result last week (against Batley), but we owe ourselves a decent performance this week."

Rams' boss Andy Kelly has a fully-fit squad to pick from after Ryan Glynn returned to full training and Alex Bretherton came through his first game back unscathed.

Kelly said: "We had a good opening to the Northern Rail Cup against Featherstone but I think we'd be foolish to think this game will be similar to that first weekend, when we racked up 50 points. I don't envisage it to be like that again."

GATESHEAD THUNDER v YORK CITY KNIGHTS

Dave Woods still expects to be without Stuart Kain for Sunday's clash against York while Tabua Cakacaka and Dylan Nash face late fitness tests.

Thunder battled to a 30-22 win at Hunslet last week and Woods believes that bodes well for the future.

He said: "Last year we wouldn't have come through it and got the win.

It's very pleasing in that respect.

"In terms of York and their abilities, we know that they are a good side and we know it's going to be tough this weekend. We're expecting a real battle."

Knights' boss Paul March has doubts over Ryan Esders (shoulder) and Rob Kelly (knee).

March said: "Last week we came on leaps and bounds and defensively we proved a point. We muscled up and didn't get bullied.

"With the ball in hand we know we can score tries so it was very pleasing to be much stronger than we had been in defence."

HALIFAX v WORKINGTON TOWN

Paul Southern (calf strain) is Halifax's only injury concern ahead of Sunday's fixture against Workington.

The game will be Halifax's third in nine days, following a strong display against Melbourne last Friday and a convincing win against Keighley on Tuesday night.

Matt Calland's side can secure their place in the knockout stages of the Northern Rail Cup with a victory against the Cumbrians, who are yet to record their first win of the campaign.

But Town boss Dave Rotheram remains upbeat and confident in his side's ability.

Rotheram said: "We played Whitehaven last week and they didn't' shake us off until the very end of the game.

We had five minutes of madness at the start of the second half, then we lost two players through injury who couldn't come back on, and we just ran out of steam.

"It was a credible performance from us. If you look at the recent history in the local derbies they were always big wins for Whitehaven but this was a big turnaround locally.

We've just got to transfer that form into this game."

But Rotheram is facing a string of injury concerns, with doubts over Darren King, Stephen Dawes, Neil Frazer, Gary Purdham, James Robinson, Mark Routledge, Ryan Blair and Taani Lavulavu.

KEIGHLEY COUGARS v WHITEHAVEN

Andy Shickell (suspension) is a definite absentee for the hosts whi - Read More, Here