SCOTT Naylor says he genuinely wasn’t surprised by the topsy-turvy results last weekend at the top end of Betfred League 1.
London’s win at Hunslet; North Wales Crusaders’ narrow win at Doncaster; Keighley Cougars’ home win against Workington Town; and the 12-12 draw between Whitehaven and Newcastle at the Recreation Ground each caused a few eyebrows to be raised around the league.
Naylor, who tipped Skolars to cause a few upsets after their 34-4 defeat at the Vestacare Stadium in March, was unmoved.
“To some degree it’s been happening all season,” said the Roughyeds boss. “Nobody is running away with it and on any given day most teams in the division can pick up points. For me, there are no surprises any more in this division.
“It’s going to be like that for the rest of the season because it’s a fantastically competitive division.
“I’m not surprised at how tight it is at the top. And that’s why it is so important that we get some consistency into our game.”
With a third of the league campaign gone, Naylor’s men lie fourth, three points behind leaders Whitehaven, who come to the Vestacare Stadium this Sunday, May 5, in the first round of the new 1895 Cup.
Twenty teams from the Championship and League 1 are involved in this brand-new competition which is designed to give clubs outside Super League a realistic chance of playing at Wembley.
Eight Betfred League 1 clubs go to the starting gate this weekend and the four winners join the 12 Championship clubs (excluding Toronto Wolfpack and Toulouse Olympique) in the second-round draw on Sunday night.
It will be streamed live by Our League and the RFL’s Facebook page from 6pm on Sunday.
The Hunslet v Workington Town first-round tie on Saturday (3pm) will also be streamed live by the RFL’s Our League membership app and also by the Twitch streaming platform.
The final is at Wembley in a double-header with the Coral Challenge Cup final on Saturday, August 24.
Roughyeds are running a club trip to Wembley that day, details to be announced soon.
League 1 leaders Whitehaven come to the Vestacare Stadium on Sunday (3pm) looking to avenge their only league defeat at the same venue back in February.
Said skipper Marc Shackley:
“We didn’t play particularly well that day, but we haven’t been beaten since and it will be nice to go back and prove a point.
“We have some good players but the key to our success has been our close-knit togetherness and our fitness.
“We were really put through it in pre-season, but we are reaping the benefits now.”
Coach Gary Charlton added:
“The best team won at Oldham in the league, no complaints, but I expect to see an improvement this time.
“We’ll go into the cup game to be competitive, but the league has to remain our priority.”
He hopes to have a full squad available, including Andrew Bulman and Ethan Kelly, who have been out injured.
Roughyeds have been given a boost by the news that Gareth Owen and Danny Langtree, who were both sin-binned for punching in a heated battle with Hunslet, will face no further action.
The RFL’s match review panel has ruled sin-bin sufficient in both cases and also in the case of Hunslet’s Mike Emmett.
They also ruled ‘no ban’ for Hunslet prop Dan Hawksworth, who was red-carded for punching.
Roughyeds will be without injured Anthony Bowman and Aaron Jones-Bishop, but otherwise Scott Naylor hopes to have a full squad from which to choose.
“Throw in Lee Kershaw too and we’re three backs down, but the lads who came into the side last week all did very well and put themselves in the shop window for the cup-tie,”
On-loan Kershaw has been recalled by Wakefield Trinity and is currently playing in their Super League side.