Broncos braced for hardy Halifax

Rugby League
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The Independent Online
DAVE HADFIELD

London Broncos bid farewell to The Stoop Memorial Ground today with a Regal Trophy tie against one of the league's stronger clubs - but one they have already beaten this season.

The Broncos' brand of high-speed, inventive rugby proved too good for Halifax at the same ground 10 days ago. They are not, however, taking that as a form guide for this match.

"It will be a very different proposition - much more intense," the Broncos' coach, Gary Grienke, said. He has been able to pick from a full-strength squad, with the side's token Englishman, Ikram Butt, returning from a hamstring injury.

The changes in Halifax's side since their last meeting could be more significant, with John Bentley, Wayne Parker, Karl Harrison and Paul Moriarty all back.

Bradford Bulls throw in a triallist scrum-half, Craig Robinson, brother of Keighley's Steve, against Leeds at Headingley tomorrow. Robinson, from the Dudley Hill amateur club, has played in Bradford's Alliance team and impressed the club's assistant coach, Matthew Elliott - in charge this weekend in the absence of Brian Smith who is at the Super League conference in Los Angeles.

"He has showed enough to suggest that he can go out there and enjoy himself," Elliott said. "If he does that, he will do well."

Other changes after last Friday's embarrassment at the hands of an 11- man St Helens see the return of Dave Turpin, John Hamer and Karl Fairbank. Paul Newlove is described as "declared medically fit to play" - which still leaves a few other possibilities - but Carl Hall and Andy Ireland are injured.

Leeds, who have almost as much to prove following their defeat by Sheffield Eagles, are without Jim Fallon and Garry Schofield. Paul Cook comes in for Fallon, with Graham Holroyd continuing at scrum-half and Gary Mercer preferred to Mike Forshaw at loose-forward.

The Leeds coach, Dean Bell, will have left his side in little doubt about his feelings over last week's defeat. "We clicked as a unit against Wigan, but since them it's been all downhill," he said. "It wouldn't hurt to remember the feeling from last Sunday's game, because if that's not enough motivation not to feel like that again then nothing is."

The holders, Wigan, will be the architects of their own fate as the first visitors to the McAlpine Stadium since it was declared the Building of the Year. The setting is likely to be more impressive than the opposition, as Huddersfield, whose new coach, Darryl Van de Velde, arrives next month, are struggling near the foot of the First Division and will be without the suspended Dean Hanger.

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