Sharks and Celtic kick off Conference campaigns

Sam Ottewell scrambles for the ball during the Sharks  Challenge Cup tie.
Sam Ottewell scrambles for the ball during the Sharks Challenge Cup tie.

Shaw Cross Sharks and Dewsbury Celtic begin their National Conference League campaigns on Saturday.

The Sharks missed out on a place in last season’s Division One play-off final when they were edged out 24-22 in a thrilling semi-final against York Acorn.

Cross had finished the regular season in fourth place and they will be bidding to go one better this season.

Brett Turner’s Sharks begin with a trip to The Mill Pond, where they take on newly promoted Featherstone Lions on Saturday.

Featherstone finished runners-up in Division Two last season and will be keen to make their mark at the higher level.

The Sharks bowed out of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup three weeks ago, losing 40-6 against Castleford Lock Lane, while they have been preparing for the new Conference season with training sessions on Wednesday evenings at Hyrstmount and held an on-field practice last Saturday.

The Sharks’ first home game is against East Leeds on March 12.

Celtic are confident of making a promotion challenge from Division Two this season and begin at home to Saddleworth Rangers on Saturday.

This is the only match in the second division and gives Celtic the chance to steal a march on their rivals before their mouthwatering derby trip to Thornhill Trojans on March 12.

Thornhill warmed up with a 40-20 victory over Keighley Cougars a fortnight ago and will also be looking to be among the leading contenders having won promotion from Division Three last season.