A Busy Weekend of Northern Rail Cup Games Ahead

7th March 2013

Northern Rail Cup

Sunday March 10

Gateshead Thunder v North Wales Crusaders (3.00pm)

Gateshead Thunder coach Kevin Neighbour has warned his side they need to show massive improvement if they are to challenge North Wales Crusaders on Sunday.

Thunder lost 58-16 at Rochdale in last week’s opening Northern Rail Cup fixture.

Neighbour said: “We got exactly what we deserved. I’m not going to sugarcoat it or dress it up – they were better than us in every department.”

Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths insists his side will not get carried away, despite registering a 48-12 win over Oldham last week.

Griffiths said: “I’m very pleased, but we’ve got to keep our feet on the ground. Oldham had lots of ball and it was only resolute defence that kept them out.”

He added: “Gateshead this year are not Gateshead of last year. They’re packed with new players and they’ll be smarting from last year’s defeats.

“We anticipate a really tough game at Craven Park, but we’re going there with momentum and confidence and we know we can score tries from any area of the field, and that’s what other teams will have to combat. We can ask questions from anywhere.

“We’re not the finished article by any means – we’re only just over a year old – but the pre-season we’ve had has been fantastic and we were very clinical against Oldham.”

Lewys Weaver might miss Sunday’s game due to a hamstring picked up in training.

Gloucestershire All Golds v South Wales Scorpions (3.00pm)

Gloucestershire All Golds coach Brad Hepi will be without Jamie Crowther (broken hand) for four weeks following last week’s bruising introduction to the semi-professional ranks.

Hepi is hoping his squad can adapt to the challenges posed at this level ahead of Sunday’s Northern Rail Cup fixture with South Wales Scorpions.

Hepi said: “The guys have now had a taste of what it’s all about.

“Where they could get away with things in student rugby, this is a whole new ball game in terms of the quality of the players you’re up against.”

Scorpions coach Dave Clark has challenged his side to bounce back from last week’s 54-12 defeat by London Skolars.

Clark said: “That performance was unacceptable at all levels.

“The players know they need to put things right this week, and they’ll be extra determined to do just that.”

Haydn Peacock is set to miss the rest of the Northern Rail Cup campaign with an ankle injury.

Clark is set to give Nigerian-born prop Samir Tahraoui an opportunity to impress.

London Skolars v Hemel Stags (3.00pm)

London Skolars coach Joe Mbu has warned his squad not to underestimate Hemel Stags ahead of Sunday’s Northern Rail Cup fixture.

The Stags made a winning start to life in the semi-professional ranks, beating Gloucestershire All Golds 36-18 last week.

Mbu said: “They’ll be a decent outfit, they’ve got some London Broncos players, and I don’t think anyone should take them lightly.”

He added: “I was encouraged by our performance last week. We showed a lot of maturity and control.

“We could have easily started trying to overplay, but we stayed disciplined and executed things well. Hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come.”

Hemel stand-off Chris Stevenson faces a fitness test on a knee problem before Troy Perkins names his Stags squad.

However, James Howitt will definitely be unavailable for the next three weeks due to personal reasons.

Perkins said: “We’re under no illusions this week will give us a tougher test than last week. We’re playing against blokes with Super League experience, and others who’ve been in this league for a long time.

“Where we dominated physically last week, it might be more difficult for us on Sunday. We’ll have to aim up in the forwards if we’re to have a chance of winning the game.”

Oldham v Rochdale Hornets (3.00pm)

Oldham coach Scott Naylor will pick from full strength for Sunday’s mouthwatering Northern Rail Cup derby with Rochdale Hornets.

Naylor’s squad will be trying to recover from their 48-12 defeat against North Wales Crusaders last week, but Naylor insisted: “The score didn’t reflect the game. It made it look a lot worse than it was.

“We need to work on certain things and make sure we don’t switch off for 10 or 15 minute periods this week.”

Hornets coach Ian Talbot is also reporting a clean bill of health after last week’s 58-16 win over Gateshead Thunder.

Talbot said: “Oldham will have improved since we played them a few weeks ago. I expect them to be a much tougher proposition, especially at their home ground.

“It’s going to be as much about how we deal with the conditions as how we deal with the opposition.”

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