The opening weekend of the Betfred Championship served up some interesting prospects as the Widnes Vikings, York City Knights and Bradford Bulls joined the survivors from last season in an expanded fourteen team competition, all with their sights on the play-offs final and a Super League XXV place in 2020.

The game of the round saw newly promoted York City Knights take on last years losing Million Pound Game side the Toronto Wolfpack as the Canadian side welcomed a new dawn under coach Brian McDermott. Elsewhere Bradford Bulls had a local derby against Featherstone and the relegated Widnes Vikings hosted Halifax.

It would be an exciting first Sunday.

All credit to the Sheffield Eagles who landed into the 2019 season with both feet firmly on the ground and set about demolishing the Swinton Lions. First half tries from Davies, Millar, Glover, Guzdek, Makelim and Farrell, along with three Walker goals gave the home side a 30-0 lead as they kept Swinton scoreless. Gray opened the second half scoring for the Lions but four tries from Thackeray, one from Blackmore, and a second from Millar concluded a 64-10 win, Swintons only consolation being a Brickhill try with five minutes remaining. Sheffield Eagles top of the table after the opening round.

In the game of the day the York City Knights defended valiantly but ended up losing by 14-0 to the Toronto Wolfpack.

It was a humdinger of a game to welcome the Bradford Bulls back into the second flight. Boas opened the scoring for Featherstone and converted his own try for a 6-0 lead which they retained until the half hour mark when an unconverted Webster try got the Bulls back within two points. A Chisolm try five minutes into the second half edged Bradford into an 8-6 lead before Flanagan and two goals from Chisolm made it 16-6 to the home side. Rovers fought back through Briscoe and King, and after the second was converted by Boas it was 16-16 with fifteen left to play. Chisolm took his opportunity to kick a drop goal on sixty-nine and Featherstone were unable to answer, with the Bulls getting their first two points of the season.

Leigh Centurions did it tough for their first win of the season over Toulouse Olympique XIII. Robin put the visitors ahead on five but three tries in eight minutes from Pownall, Marsh and Costello took Leigh to a 16-6 lead. Marcon scored before the interval for Toulouse for 16-12 at the break. Four minutes after the restart Cator scored for Leigh and Ridyard added the conversion, and when Ridyard kicked a penalty on sixty-six it was 24-12 and the league points were safe. Marcon scored a late consolation for the visitors for a final scoreline of 24-16.

Batley Bulldogs and Barrow had a battle royal at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium. A very early Wood try for Batley was answered by Spedding and when Leak again gave the Bulldogs the lead, Smith was quick to answer for the visitors. A try from Brambini on thirty-one was agains answered, this time again by Spedding and the sides went into the sheds with the home side having an 18-14 advantage. All the second half scoring went the way of Barrow with a Charnock try converted by Spedding and a goal from the kicker to take a 22-18 away win.

Last seasons relegated side the Widnes Vikings got their campaign off to a decent start with a 40-16 win over Halifax. Owens, Gelling and Ince raced the home side into a 16-0 lead before Sharp and Tyrer reduced the half-time arrears to 16-10. Ince grabbed two more in the second half to complete a hat-trick and Ince grabbed a second to give Widnes a comfortable 40-10 lead with just a late Kavanagh converted try causing some mild discomfort.

The game between Rochdale and the Dewsbury Rams was postponed due to a frozen pitch and will be re-arranged.


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