Rams forced to move Leigh game

Austin Buchanan

Austin Buchanan

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Dewsbury’s crucial final Co-operative Championship game of the season at home to Leigh Centurions has been brought forward to Thursday (September 1).

The game was due to be a week on Sunday (September 4) but Sky TV have picked the clash to be screened live this Thursday with a 7.30pm kick-off.

Both relegation-threatened Dewsbury and title chasing Leigh had lodged complaints with the Rugby Football League (RFL) but the decision was confirmed yesterday afternoon (Thursday).

Rams coach Warren Jowitt said: “We are not happy and Leigh are not happy. All three teams in the relegation scrap need to play at the same time.”

Dewsbury chairman Mark Sawyer said: “The RFL have turned down our appeal which is ridiculous.

“York officials have told me it’s the best news ever. It’s an absolute joke.”

Dewsbury’s 54-24 defeat by leaders Featherstone Rovers last Sunday, coupled with both Hunslet and York recording surprise wins, saw the Rams slip to second-bottom going into the final round of matches.

Jowitt’s men are a point behind Hunslet and York but have a far superior points difference to their rivals, so a bonus point against Leigh could be enough to save the Rams if the Hawks and Knights lost heavily.

Hunslet entertain play-off bound Halifax in their final match, while York face a tough trip to Sheffield, with those matches next Sunday.

In a further twist, the RFL has still to confirm how many sides will be relegated from the Championship. Bottom club Toulouse will return to the French Elite League at the end of the season, while there is still uncertainty regarding what will happen to Crusaders, meaning only one English side instead of two could face the drop.

The Wrexham-based club withdrew their application for a new three-year Super League licence in July, citing financial concerns, but this week confirmed their intention to join one of the Champioinship divisions.

However, with the coaching staff and several star players set to leave at the end of the current season, they may be forced to start in Championship One.

Jowitt added: “I can’t see Crusaders joining the Championship and with Toulouse also going, we can’t lose any more clubs.”

There is further confusion at the top of the Championship, with Leigh and Featherstone battling it out for first place. The sides are level on 50 points but Featherstone have a better points difference and also have a game in hand, away to Sheffield this Sunday.

Rovers’ final game of the season is at Widnes, so there is still plenty to play for at both ends of the table.

Jowitt added: “We have left ourselves the biggest mountain to climb ever.

“Leigh are the best team in the league by far, they have the best players and best facilities.

“We have only had two really poor games this season, Swinton at home (in the cup) and away to Halifax.In the others the lads have competed and tried their hearts out but you look back at the Toulouse game, which we should have won, and against York when we dropped the ball and they scored in the last minute.

“Players come and go and perhaps some of the players I signed turned out not to be as good a signing as they might have been, which is why they left the club.”

Second row Richard Fletcher is Dewsbury’s only doubt and they will assess his knee injury before deciding whether to include him in the squad.

n What do you think of the decision to move Dewsbury’s crucial final game? E-mail DewsburySport@ywng.co.uk, write to 17 Wellington Road, Dewsbury WF13 1HQ or contact us through www.dewsbury reporter.co.uk to send in your views.