Well the wait is over, after weeks of friendly games, starting last year on Boxing Day for some teams, the 2020 Betfred Championship season is almost upon us.
Below is a preview of Round 1 games this weekend. Let’s hope for an exciting season!
Dewsbury Rams start the season off with a tricky tie against Leigh Centurions. The Rams had a moral boosting victory over the Bradford Bulls in their last pre-season game two weeks ago, whilst the Leigh Centurions come to the Tetley’s Stadium with a 12 – 6 victory over a youthful Wigan Warriors side.
The Centurions have added Jarrod Sammutt to their ranks for the 2020 season. The half back will bring a wealth of experience, alongside a bit of X- factor needed to push the Centurions for promotion to Super League.
There will be extra games shown live over the course of this season from the Championship and League One on the OURLEAGUE app. The first one will be Saturday evening when Toulouse Olympique meet York City Knights at the Stade Ernest Wallon Stadium.
Toulouse Olympique are among the front runners in the Championship hoping to join Catalan Dragons into Super League in 2021. They have added winger Jy Hitchcock to their squad hoping to continue the free flowing entertaining rugby we are used to.
York City Knights boss James Ford is confident of what his squad is capable of and getting off to a flying start in the South of France. The surprise package of 2019 have also strengthened by getting the highly rated Super League center Jimmy Keinhorst for the coming season.
Sunday afternoon kicks off with Batley Bulldogs at home against Featherstone Rovers, both clubs with new coaches in charge at the helm. Dale Morton and Lucas Walshaw left the Rams to join the Bulldogs, but a few eyebrows were raised as Shaun Lunt completed his move to Batley. Featherstone Rovers will continue their successful dual – registration with Leeds Rhinos, who they beat 34-22 last weekend. Rovers will be hoping to go one better than last season and win a place in Super League.
Bradford Bulls under new ownership once again, moving in with the Rams for 2020, another eventful pre-season for the fans of the Bulls, their player recruitment started later than most clubs, but recently the arrival of Anthony England, Sam Barlow and Matty Dawson -Jones have strengthened the squad. The Bulls first game will be against London Broncos, who will be celebrating 40 years in the capital in 2020. London nearly defined the odds by only getting relegated on the last day of last season, since then a few players have left the capital. One new signing is promising youngster Cory Aston. The Broncos will be hoping for a quick return to Super League.
It will be Simon Grix’s first full season as coach of Halifax as they entertain Sheffield Eagles on Sunday, his brother Scott needs just one try for a career total of 150. For Sheffield Eagles it’s the return of the flying winger Rob Worrincy. Rob previously won a Grand Final with Halifax, as well as been a League One winner with the Eagles. Sheffield will be hoping for another Wembley visit, after winning the 1895 Cup last season.
Oldham are back in the Championship for 2020, with a new coach in Matt Diskin. They will also play their home games back at Stalybridge Celtic, a return to the ground the last time they were in the Championship. Oldham’s first game is against Widnes Vikings, at least the Vikings will start on 0 points this season! Their new coach is the evergreen Tim Sheens, his squad will have a mixture of youth and experience this season. Lots will depend on new signing Matty Smith.
Finally, the final game on Sunday, is up in Cumbria where Whitehaven will be wanting to make the Recreation Ground a fortress if they have any chances of avoiding relegation back to League One. Haven coach Garry Charlton is still on the look out to strengthen his squad, even getting his dad Paul to look out for recruits down under in Australia.
They face Swinton Lions who have just announced a new reserve grade dual-registration deal with Salford Red Devils. What are the chances of these two teams struggling to keep out of the bottom two come the end of this season.
This article was written by Rams supporter Andy Lumb