Round 23 Previews

Official English Super League Round 23 previews -Sunday games. Hull FC v London Broncos, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats v Huddersfield Giants, Bradford Bulls v Widnes Vikings and Leigh Centurions v Leeds Rhinos.

Kear: Broncos a tough challenge

High-flying Hull FC are preparing for a tough encounter when they face sixth-placed London Broncos at the KC Stadium.

The Powergen Challenge Cup finalists can move clear of Warrington in third place with victory, but they take on an in-form Broncos side that has lost just one of their last nine games.

Hull coach John Kear said: ?They are playing some really good rugby league. I think they have lost only once in their last nine games.

?They are in great form and they play well against the so-called bigger teams.

?They played well against Saints and beat Leeds. They have had two weeks off and will ask questions, but our lads are on a high and will be ready come Sunday at 6 o?clock.?

Hull FC v London Broncos, KC Stadium, Sunday August 7 2005

Hull 18-man: Briscoe, Yeaman, Raynor, R. Horne, Dowes, Swain, King, McMenemy, Kearney, Cooke, Tony, Thackray, Saxton, Carvell, Brough, G. Horne, Whiting, Lee.

London 18-man: Armour, Bradley-Qalilawa, Dorn, Haumono, Highton, Hopkins, Lucky Luisi, Mateo, McLinden, Mbu, Purdham, Smith, Stephenson, Sykes, Tookey, Trindall, Wells, Williams.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick

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Crabtree ready for Giant stride

Huddersfield prop Eorl Crabtree remains confident his side can win the race for the sixth spot in the engage Super League play-offs.

The Giants have stumbled in their attempts to reach the top six by losing three of their last four games and are now four points adrift of the play-off places.

Yet with six games left, Crabtree retains hope, although the Giants will have to quell a late charge from resurgent Wakefield at the Atlantic Solutions Stadium on Sunday.

Crabtree said: ?We have had a lot of injuries and been a bit unlucky, but we are getting players back and the young lads coming through are exceptional.

?Hopefully we will push for a place. Wakefield is going to be a tough one but we are going to give it a good go.

?They have done very well since they got the new coach in. You can?t take anything for granted against a side like that.

?They have some quality players and you have to be on top of your game.?

Both sides have had a fortnight to prepare for the game as neither was involved in last week?s Powergen Challenge Cup semi-finals.

And with crucial play-off points at stake, Crabtree insists the Giants have not been taking it easy.

The 22-year-old added: ?We have trained hard. You don?t get a week off in rugby league. You?ve got to work hard all the time to keep your fitness up.?

Wakefield have spent most of the year worrying about relegation but have made a late push with three consecutive wins since sacking coach Shane McNally.

New coach Tony Smith has reinvigorated the Wildcats and they are now much tougher proposition than when beaten 40-22 by the Giants in June.

Smith said: ?The games between these two clubs are always tight, aggressive games.

?That is the way we are preparing to play it. We are anticipating a tough game and we don?t expect anything different.?

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats v Huddersfield Giants, Atlantic Solutions Stadium, Sunday August 7 2005

Wakefield 18-man squad: Halpenny, Wainwright, Demetriou, Domic, Tadulala, Jeffries, Griffin, March, Korkidas, Solomona, J. Field, Spicer, Obst , Wrench, Snitch, MacGillivray, Elima, Henderson.

Huddersfield 18-man squad: O?Hare, Evans, Thorman, March, Drew, Gannon, Nero, Gene, Morrison, Smith, Crabtree, Grayshon, White, Hemingway, Fagborun, McDonald, Greenwood, St Hilaire.

Referee: R Silverwood

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Bradford and Widnes announce squads

Time is fast running out too for Widnes Vikings, who are five points behind third-from-bottom Salford with just six games to save themselves.

Bradford can hammer another nail into their coffin at Odsal but the Vikings will at least take encouragement from their past performances against the Bulls, having taken three points off them this term.

Bulls stand-off Iestyn Harris said: ?Widnes have been poor at times this year but every time they have played Bradford they have played extremely well.

?They took two points off us at their place and drew at our place so they are certainly a side we need to be wary of.

?We can?t take anything for granted now. We have no sort of cushion and we can?t afford to lose any more games that we should win.?

Bradford Bulls v Widnes Vikings, Odsal, Sunday August 7 2005

Bradford 18-man: Vainikolo, Deacon, Cook, Fielden, I. Harris, Withers, Johnson, Lynch, B. Harris, Parker, L. Pryce, Peacock, Paul, Hape, Reardon, Meyers, Radford, Henderson.

Widnes 18-man: Emelio, Hughes, Myler, O'Connor, J. O'Neill, Cassidy, Stankevitch, Finnigan, Hulse, Whitaker, Frame, Mills, Smith, Whittle, Viane, J. O'Neill, Watts, Kerr.

Referee: Glen Black

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Leigh and Leeds announce squads

Leigh?s return to the top flight after a decade in the wilderness looks set to come to an end after just one season on Sunday.

The Centurions have picked up just five points in their first engage Super League season and their relegation will be confirmed if they lose to champions Leeds at The Coliseum.

The club have been fighting an uphill battle since winning last year?s National League Grand Final, having had little time to recruit the quality necessary to survive amongst the elite.

They have already begun preparing for life back at a lower level and their difficult year took another turn for the worst when they parted company with coach Darren Abram in midweek.

Leigh had decided to revert to a part-time structure for next season and terms with Abram could not be agreed.

Yet despite being marooned at the foot of the table, there have been some plucky performances, not least in a 27-20 defeat to St Helens a fortnight ago.

As a result Leeds coach Tony Smith, whose side are now a point behind Saints after their win at Warrington last night, is taking nothing for granted.

Smith said of his players: ?They will be up for a big performance as they were in the last two meetings with them.

?In the first half of our first game at Leigh we scored a couple of spectacular tries that took us clear and they gave us a real tussle at Headingley.

?They put in a good performance in their last outing against St Helens and they will be looking to build on that.

?They have had a fortnight to prepare for us which will have given them time to rest a few players, which can be vital at this time of year, and we know we are in for a tough test.?

Leigh, who are in the temporary charge of coaches Tommy Martyn and Heath Cruckshank, will at least not have to contend with Man of Steel aspirant Rob Burrow.

The Rhinos scrum-half injured his ankle in training this week and joins captain Kevin Sinfield on the sidelines.

The in-form 22-year-old suffered the injury in training this week and is likely to be replaced in the side by Andrew Dunemann.

Smith is also considering handing a debut to Academy full-back Ashley Gibson. The 18-year-old is included in the Rhinos? 20-man squad to travel to The Coliseum along with fellow youngsters Lee Smith and Danny Williams.

Smith said: ?Danny has been pushing for selection with some top-quality performances in the academy.

?He is working hard and we will see how he goes this week in training with the first team squad.?

Leigh Centurions v Leeds Rhinos, The Coliseum, Sunday August 7 2005

Leigh 18-man squad: Cooper, Fleary, Jackson, P. Jones, Kent, Wilkes, Leafa, Maden, Marshall, Smyth, Stapleton, Sturm, Wilshere, Owen, J. Duffy, Maddox, Stevens, Coleman.

Leeds 18-man squad: Mathers, Calderwood, Walker, Senior, McGuire, Bailey, Diskin, McDermott, Lauitiiti, McKenna, Dunemann, Ward, Poching, Ellis, Scruton, Smith, Cummins, Gibson.

Referee: R Laughton

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