Match Preview: Toronto Wolfpack vs Gloucestershire All Golds

Match preview by Doug Thomson, League Express
Match Date: Saturday July 8th, 2017
Time: 16:30 EDT / 21:30 BST
Venue: Lamport Stadium, Toronto

ANOTHER BIG NIGHT

It’s all to play for when Toronto Wolfpack welcome Gloucestershire All Golds to the Lamport Stadium.

Paul Rowley’s men can tie up top spot in the regular-season table by gaining a 14th win out of 14 League One matches.

Whitehaven, who visit North Wales Crusaders, are two points behind the Wolfpack with two games to go before the Super 8s.

But Toronto’s points difference is 649 compared to Whitehaven’s 207, a figure which could be very important, not just at the moment, but in September, when the Wolfpack hope to be celebrating promotion to the Championship as Super 8s winners.

That’s the ultimate target, but the immediate priority is taking on the All Golds, who are in 11th place with six wins from 13.

The Wolfpack were made to work for their 64-22 victory over York City Knights, who scored more points against the home team than any other League 1 side so far.

Rowley’s team will be aiming to tighten up in defence while continuing their freescoring ways after winger Liam Kay’s five-try blitz against York.

CHELTENHAM

The coat of arms of Cheltenham carries the Latin motto Salubritas et Eruditio – health and education.

Add cyber and signals information gathering and horse racing for the four things the town on the edge of the famous Cotswold hills in South-West England is best known for.

Cheltenham has been a a health and holiday spa resort since the discovery of mineral springs in 1716 (it was once a favoured destination for the Royal Family).

As well as the University of Gloucestershire, home of the All Golds Rugby League Club, it has a number of internationally renowned and historic schools.

It’s the home of GCHQ (the Government Communications Headquarters), an intelligence and security organisation which feeds the British Government and Armed Forces.

And every March, thousands flock to the racecourse for the famous Cheltenham Festival and its Gold Cup, the flagship race of British steeplechasing.

The town also has renowned annual festivals for literature, jazz, science, music and food and drink.

With a population of 110,000, Cheltenham is between Birmingham and Bristol and 110 miles West of London.

THE ALL GOLDS

The University of Gloucestershire’s Rugby League club have been playing in League 1 since 2013, when they were admitted at the same time as Hemel Stags, next weekend’s visitors to Canada, and Oxford, the first UK side to play in Toronto back in May.

The club had caught the eye by defeating London Broncos, Widnes and Salford in a Rugby League Nines competition in 2012.

The All Golds are based at the Prince of Wales Stadium in Cheltenham, which also boasts a renowned racecourse and a Soccer club playing in the Football League’s Second Division, the fourth tier of the game in England and Wales.

The well-known Gloucester Rugby Union Club play in the town of that name, ten miles to the West of Cheltenham.

The All Golds run a number of open-age and junior sides, with the first team coached by former England international winger Lee Greenwood.

With experience as an assistant coach at Batley Bulldogs and Halifax, he took over from Steve McCormack, the current Scotland coach, in October 2014.

While the All Golds emerged during the 1990s, Rugby League was played in Cheltenham back in 1908, when New Zealand met England (then called the Northern Union) in what has become known as the Great Match of the Edwardian Period.

The Kiwis’ victory in the third and deciding match meant they won Rugby League’s first ever international Test series (the first two games were in Leeds and London).

KEY BATTLES

The All Golds boast an experienced operator in Phil Cowburn and a dangerous winger in Mo Agoro.

Versatile back Cowburn, originally from Manchester, has just become the first player to make 100 appearances for the club and has scored 41 tries in that time.

Jamaica international winger Agoro, previously at Oldham and Hunslet, has crossed for 15 League 1 tries this season, the same as the Wolfpack’s Jonny Pownall (his teammate Liam Kay has 17).

The All Golds have a trio of players – halfback Ben Stead, centre Brad Kingslingbury and second row Harry Kidd – away on Student World Cup duty.