The opening round of Betfred Championship fixtures is brought to a close on Sunday and there are two cracking games to look forward to, starting with Sheffield Eagles’ home clash against Bradford Bulls RLFC at 12:45.

The Eagles, winners of the Championship in 2012 and 2013, head into this fixture at the Keepmoat Stadium on the back of a 30-6 loss to the York City Knights in the Challenge Cup.

Sheffield lost four of their five league fixtures in 2020 before the season was curtailed and they face a tough challenge to get their 2021 campaign off to a winning start.

Bradford head coach John Kear, in his third year at the helm, has added several new faces in the hope of a play-off push, most notably bringing in former Super League star Danny Brough.

Aaron Murphy, Ben Evans, Brad England, Reece Hamlett, Elliot Wallis, Brad Calland, Jack Sanderson and Anthony Walker have also been added to the ranks, and it is hard to look past a Bulls win on Sunday.

Sheffield are 11/5 to pick up the win, while a draw is priced at 20/1 and Bradford are 2/5 favourites to get off to the perfect start.

Sunday’s second encounter will see Newcastle Thunder take on Widnes Vikings at Kingston Park at 17:15 (Match betting – Newcastle 5/2, Draw 25/1, Widnes 1/3).

Widnes head coach Simon Finnigan will be taking on his former club, having spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons in charge of the Thunder, and he will be hoping it is a happy return to the North East.

The visitors are without Logan Tomkins, who is recovering from a foot injury discovered during pre-season training, while Calum O’Neill is continuing his recovery from a concussion suffered.

As for Newcastle, Kieran Gill and Liam McAvoy are both available for selection after missing the Challenge Cup loss to Swinton, while on-loan hooker Connor Aspey has been included in the match-day squad.

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