THE Barton Townley Cup starts on Saturday as the amateur rugby league season kicks into gear, writes PADDY McATEER.

Ulverston, Dalton, Millom and Hindpool Tigers are the four sides seeing action.


(Dragley Beck, 2.30pm)

ULVERSTON parade new faces Jake Schofield and Joel Smith as they host Dalton.

The Australian duo are set to start, and Ulverston coach Phil Atkinson said: “They look good in training and I am eager to see how they go.

“Jake will probably start at full-back, while Joel will slot in at half-back or hooker.”

Liam Saunders himself is back at Dragley Beck after a short spell at Millom, where he played in the first round of the Challenge Cup against the University of Hull. He returned to his hometown club to join two Australians he met during his time Down Under.

Atkinson added: “We have had good numbers at pre-season sessions and they are all champing at the bit to play, but I can only select 17.

“It has been one of Ulverston’s best pre-season for several years and I’m sure we will progress nicely as the weeks go by.

“Dalton are in full swing playing in the winter league, so they have that advantage and I am expecting it to be tough. They are fully match-fit, so we will have to get into our stride as soon as possible.”

Back in the fold for Ulverston are Josh Proctor and Tom Spedding, who missed many games last season through injury following a bad ankle break. Also in line for a place is Ryan John.

Dalton are without Alastair McEwan, Harri Brown and Ian Hayes through injury, but Jordan Woodend and Jamie Southward are back from rib injuries.

Assistant coach Owen Richards said: “Three good lads are out through injury and two through work (Jack Flynn and Ryan Baines), but we will still have a decent side out with several players putting their hands up to play.

“We are a very enthusiastic team and it should be a good game. We are looking for our match fitness to see us through – we are very fresh while Ulverston are just starting their season”


(Devonshire Road, 1.30pm)

TOM Sibley and Ian Armstrong are unavailable for Millom’s clash with North West Men’s League side Hindpool, but Marcus O’Brien should be declared fit and will be joined in the squad by Tom Newbiggin.

Player/coach Sibley said: “We will not be taking Hindpool lightly. They are getting their season under way and they will be up for it, we will have to be more switched on than last week against Pilkington Recs (who won 46-12 in the Challenge Cup).

“They caught us cold, they were sharp and broke fast, which we couldn’t cope with.

“We have worked on a few things in training to put matters right and look to progress”

Hindpool coach Phil Cubiss said: “We have one or two missing, lads going to the World Club Challenge games, but we will give former junior Scott Beattie his debut. Scott was with us as a junior before moving to Dalton.

“We have struggled with the weather to get on to the pitch for training, but the lads have been put through it in the gym, so we will be toughened up.

“It has been a long off-season and the lads are itching to play and they will give it their all.”

Cubiss goes into battle minus his normal half-back pairing of Matt Preston and Daryl Archer, though Matt Archer is available, along with Stu Travis.