Around the Championship: Round 1

Published: 6 February, 2019 - 7:09 pm

The 2019 Betfred Championship season kicked off with a bang on Sunday afternoon and, other than the Knights hard fought 0-14 loss at the hands of Toronto Wolfpack, there was plenty of action…

York’s fellow promoted team from League One Bradford Bulls edged a much-changed Featherstone Rovers team in a 17-16 victory with Dane Chisholm kicking the vital drop goal. Prior to that, Rovers took an early lead at Odsal and both teams scored three tries and two goals before Chisholm’s game breaker.

Featherstone’s 2018 Betfred Championship Shield opponents Leigh Centurions are another team who have had wholesale changes in the off-season but that didn’t stop them stunning one of last year’s strongest teams, Toulouse, defeating them 24-16. Despite reverting to playing part-time, the Centurions – under new head coach John Duffy – scored three first-half tries to stun the visiting Frenchmen who had earlier taken a fifth minute lead through half-back Stan Robin. Jonny Pownall, Stefan Marsh and Matty Costello scored in the opening period before Joe Cator joined the others in scoring on debut.

Newly relegated Widnes Vikings started life back in the second tier in good form as they thumped the visiting Halifax 40-16 at the Select Security Stadium. Star recruit Anthony Gelling started his Vikings career with two tries and went on to provide one of the best images of the opening round when he joined a young fan in the stand to watch the final few minutes of the match. The Kiwi, however, was outscored by winger Ryan Ince who stormed to a hat-trick as Widnes lay down a marker for their season.

Another high-scoring showing was put out by Sheffield Eagles who thrashed Swinton Lions 64-10 in the Steel City, former Knight Anthony Thackeray making an impressive debut as he scored four tries for Mark Aston’s men. After leading 30-0 at half-time, the Eagles didn’t ease off in the second half and made a great start to the season.

One of the closest encounters – certainly in scoreboard terms – came at Mount Pleasant where Batley Bulldogs were beaten by Barrow Raiders 18-22, the visiting Cumbrians nilling their hosts in the second half of a tight match. Despite David Scott nailing three conversions for Batley compared to Jake Spedding and Barrow kicking just one, the visitors outscored their hosts by four tries to three to take an opening round win.

Rochdale and Dewsbury’s clash was called off due to inclement weather, meaning the Knights’ trip to the Rams on Sunday 10th February will be the West Yorkshire club’s first match of the season.

Round 1 results

Knights 0-14 Toronto Wolfpack
Leigh Centurions 24-16 Toulouse Olympique
Batley Bulldogs 18-22 Barrow Raiders
Bradford Bulls 17-16 Featherstone Rovers
Sheffield Eagles 64-10 Swinton Lions
Widnes Vikings 40-16 Halifax RLFC
Rochdale Hornets P-P Dewsbury Rams