DEWSBURY Rams were tipped as the Betfred Championship’s dark horses for 2021 and even in these early stages they seem to be living up to that tagline.

Dewsbury enjoyed a strong start to the 2020 season with wins over Halifax, Widnes Vikings, Oldham and Whitehaven before the campaign was eventually declared null and void amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the restart, the Rams have begun the league term by sealing victories over Whitehaven and Widnes, though they were beaten 35-14 by fellow Tetley’s Stadium residents Bradford Bulls in their last outing, ahead of this Sunday's clash with York City Knights (7.30pm).

Of course, it would be premature to rush to judgements about final league standings but it seems fair to assume that Dewsbury, now in their third season under head coach Lee Greenwood, will be able to better their 12th-placed finish of 2019.

Over the off-season, Dewsbury have brought in an abundance of youth to complement the existing experience in their group, primarily through veteran half-backs Paul Sykes (39) and Liam Finn (37).

Of the nine signings made by Dewsbury, eight are aged 24 or younger, with Swinton Lions prop forward Aaron Hall the oldest of the additions at 27.

Five recruits arrive from Betfred Super League clubs, those being front rower Jordan Schofield (Wakefield Trinity), loose forward Brad Clavering (Hull KR), hookers Jamie Greenwood and Reiss Butterworth (Huddersfield Giants) and winger Lewis Carr (Castleford Tigers).

The latter of the duo are both formerly of York City Knights, having previously featured on loan and dual registration respectively last year.

Also arriving from the lower divisions are full-back Reece Chapman Smith from Halifax Panthers, back Bailey Liu from West Wales Raiders and centre/second-row Keenan Tomlinson from Batley Bulldogs.