Newcastle Thunder will look to end a three game losing streak in all competitions when they travel to Whitehaven this weekend.

Mick Mantelli’s side lost two matches against North Wales Crusaders – one in the league and the other in the League 1 Cup – before suffering a heavy defeat in their last match against Barrow Raiders. After a promising start to the campaign, Newcastle are in the final playoff spot as things stand while their round six opponents, Whitehaven, are five places above them in third.

In their last fixture, Carl Forster’s men beat Hunslet RLFC 19-18 at the South Leeds Stadium as a drop goal from Steve Roper proved to be the difference.

Last Time Out 

Whitehaven edged Hunslet in a close game at the South Leeds Stadium. The match was originally scheduled for round three but was postponed and rearranged. Haven were 16-12 up at half-time courtesy of tries from Marc Shackley, Chris Taylor and Steve Roper.

Jake Normington and George Flanagan were the try-scorers in the first half for Hunslet, with the latter’s four pointer coming after Whitehaven half-back Roper was sin-binned for obstruction.

The hosts took the lead for the first time in the contest on 54 minutes when Marcus Webb crossed the whitewash. However, their two point advantage was wiped out as a penalty goal levelled the game. In the final quarter, Roper struck the decisive blow with a cool one pointer which gave the visitors the all important spoils.

Newcastle Thunder were heavily beaten against Barrow Raiders at Kingston Park. The high-flying Raiders triumphed 50-6 and were 26-0 up at the break thanks to tries from Oliver Wilkes, Declan Hulme, Shane Toal and Luke Cresswell.

Barrow’s cause was helped considerably in the 28th minute as Jack Aldous was sent off for punching. Lewis Charnock also kicked a penalty goal during the first period. After the restart, Andy Litherland and Tom Shaw exchanged tries for Barrow and Newcastle respectively before the former notched three more tries in the final quarter to add more gloss to an emphatic victory.

James Duerden, Joe Bullock and Ryan Fieldhouse were the try-scorers for the Cumbrian club, who have got their league campaign off to a great start.

Key Battle 

If Newcastle are to get anything out of the game on Sunday, they will need to keep the Whitehaven halves quiet. Steve Roper and Paul Crook have a lot of experience between them and their partnership is one of the reasons why the Cumbrian club will be pushing for promotion this year.

Both players provide a good kicking game which will keep Thunder on their toes throughout the match. If Mantelli’s men can limit their influence then they will have a chance. Newcastle went with Tom Shaw and Benn Hardcastle in the halves against Barrow but were unable to lead their side to victory as Barrow overpowered the Tyneside outfit.

Hardcastle is at the heart of the attack for Newcastle and he will need to put in a good performance at the weekend as his side look to get back to winning ways. His performance against London Skolars earlier on in the season, despite missing a few conversions, is a prime example of how much he is worth to the side. He struck the match winning goal from the corner to spark great scenes at Kingston Park. Everyone will be hoping that those celebrations return with an important win on Sunday at the Recreation Ground.