Unbeaten Hull KR enter a run of six fixtures in 28 days intent on maintaining the flying start to their mission to return to Super League at the first attempt and thrown into those games is a Challenge Cup fixture against a current Super League side, the team that took Rovers’ place in the top flight.
The fixture list for April has produced a set of matches that sees Tim Sheens men play four sides that are sitting in the top 6 of the division directly behind Rovers.
First up on Sunday at KCOM Craven Park are Batley Bulldogs who like KR contested in the ‘middle 8s’ last term and will come to East Hull looking to improve on their last visit when KR put them to the sword with a resounding 58-18 win in the 1st game of the 8s. Matt Diskin’s men have had mixed start to the season, winning 4 & losing 3 league games and knocking Toulouse out of the Challenge Cup in France only weeks after taking a hammering over there in the opening league game of the season.
The Robins then travel to Greater Manchester the following week to take on a what must be said is a poor Swinton Lions side who have only 1 win all season, against fellow strugglers Dewsbury. Taking nothing for granted but Sheens may see this game as an opportunity to ‘rest’ some of his key men and give some of the squad much needed game time safe in the knowledge they should be capable of winning before the real arduous run over Easter begins.
Good Friday sees one of KR’s perceived tougher rivals make the journey over to East Hull, when Jon Sharp brings his Featherstone side over to begin a tough holiday double header for the Robins. If playing the 3rd placed side in the division wasn’t a tough enough ask after a five day turnaround, then you are tasked with travelling to the 2nd placed side who have yet to lose on their own ‘mud’ and happen to be based in Southern France it becomes apparent how difficult Easter will be for KR. So after a bruising Yorkshire derby on Good Friday, KR will head to Toulouse for the Easter Monday showdown hoping to have minimal injury concerns to deal with.
Only 5 days later the Robins will pit their wits against the team occupying their Super League berth in 2017, the Leigh Centurions at the Leigh sports village for a fascinating Challenge Cup tie, the cup god’s obviously weren’t looking too favourably on KR’s fixtures when this meeting was confirmed. Some will see this as a gauge to how far off Tim Sheens’ men are from Super League, but I think the make up of the 2 teams and the importance, coaches Sheens & Neil Jukes put on this fixture will be dictated by the results the respective clubs achieve over Easter, Leigh play Salford (a) on Good Friday before entertaining Hull FC on Easter Monday.
Rovers round off the month with a home game against a side they’ve already beaten away this year when Rochdale Hornets visit Craven Park. One factor to take into consideration for this game, what should be a routine home win is the Hornets will be coming into this game on the back of a week off having been knocked out of the cup by York City Knights in the previous round and therefore could be slightly more fresher in mind & body then Rovers, but Rovers’ quality should shine through and see the Robins round April off with a win.