Rugby League: Hope for strugglers

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The Independent Online
Two sides becoming increasingly desperate for their first Super League points feel that they have a real chance of getting off the mark in their matches tomorrow, writes Dave Hadfield.

Castleford and Oldham have fulfilled all the gloomy predictions for their seasons, with relegation already looking like a contest between them.

But Cas, without a coach since the resignation of John Joyner, have a visit from Warrington that their caretaker, Mick Morgan, describes as "very winnable". They will have their new signing, Mike Ford, on the bench, but will be without their captain, Lee Crooks, who had a minor operation on his knee this week.

Warrington, coached by the former Castleford boss, Darryl Van de Velde, have problems of their own. Injuries to Lee Penny and John Duffy mean that Chris Rudd will play full-back, with Kelly Shelford at scrum-half.

Van de Velde was less than impressed with his new charges in their victory over Oldham last week. "There is a lot of work to be done, especially in defence," he said, warning that anything less than a committed performance could give his old club the chance to break their duck.

Oldham hope to have David Bradbury, Rob Myler and, for the first time this season, the hard-working Australian second-row, Matt Munro, back from injury to face Paris St-Germain.

The Paris coach, Peter Mulholland, will have the former Perth Western Reds winger, Paul Evans, available after he escaped a ban for his sending- off for a high tackle at Salford.

In tomorrow's other Super League match, Halifax will be without Kelvin Skerrett for the London Broncos' visit. There is also a doubt about the second-row, Simon Baldwin, while Damian Munro is preferred to Greg Clarke on the left wing.

In the First Division, Hull can go back to the top of the table if they win at Featherstone Rovers. Their coach, Phil Sigsworth, who is uncertain of his future under the new regime headed by the former Hull player Tim Wilby, will be without his experienced Australian centre David Liddiard.

Sigsworth is consulting a nutritionist about Liddiard's recurring hamstring problems, but says that it is more important to have him fit for next week's meeting with the current leaders, Huddersfield.