Betfred League 1 – Round One Preview
February 18, 2023
The 2023 Betfred League 1 campaign starts this afternoon in the capital as London Skolars host last season’s Championship basement dwellers Workington Town.
The Cumbrian outfit, under new head coach Anthony Murray, after he moved to Derwent Park from North Wales Crusaders, have rebuilt over the winter as they hunt an instant return to the second tier.
For the Skolars, they will be eyeing the play-offs again after coming up five points short of finishing in sixth place during 2022. However, Skolars chief Joe Mbu will have to do without inspirational duo Jared Bassett and Phil Lyon, the source of many tries and points for the capital side last term.
Full-back Bassett (pictured below) has moved across London to the Broncos while Lyon is spending time away from the game for family reasons. Mbu has moved to fill the void left by Lyon by recruiting former West Wales Raiders stand-off Shane Lee.
Three games take place on Sunday with the first of those kicking off at 2.30pm as North Wales Crusaders face off against another relegated side Dewsbury Rams.
This encounter will take place at a neutral venue, the DCBL Stadium, home of Betfred Championship side Widnes Vikings, owing to the Crusaders’ Eirias Stadium being declared unavailable recently.
In South Yorkshire, two sides who will be eying promotion glory clash at the Eco-Power Stadium with Doncaster hosting Hunslet.
The Dons were beaten play-off finalists for a second successive year and if they are to make it third time lucky, Richard Horne’s charges might have to do so without influential Papua New Guinea playmaker Watson Boas, It has been reported that Boas, who caught the eye when Doncaster defeated Cornwall 44-10 at the Mem last July, has agreed a deal back in his homeland, despite being contracted to the Yorkshire outfit.
For Hunslet, who boast former Choughs Nathan Conroy and Joe Burton in their ranks, they have recruited heavily over the close season with former Bradford Bulls skipper Steve Crossley (pictured below) just one of many eye-catching recruits that have moved to the South Leeds Stadium.
The round is completed in the shadow of the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham, on the arena’s warm-up pitch as Cornwall face Midlands Hurricanes.
After rebranding from the Coventry Bears and relocating to Solihull for 2022, Midlands are on the move again to the Second City and although the aim of the club is to play in the main Alexander Stadium, which hosted the 2022 Commonwealth Games, 2023 home games will take place at a secondary, temporary facility.
Hurricanes chief Richard Squires has kept the bulk of his squad from 2022 in place and for tomorrow’s game, has been forced to supplement his squad with several players from Super League side Castleford Tigers.
Owing to West Wales’ demise over the winter, both Oldham and Rochdale Hornets will sit out the opening weekend.
Betfred League 1 Round One Fixtures – Sunday unless stated
Doncaster vs Hulnslet – 3.00pm
London Skolars vs Workington Town – 3.00pm (Saturday)
Midlands Hurricanes vs Cornwall RLFC – 3.00pm
North Wales Crusaders vs Dewsbury Rams – 2.30pm