Date: Sunday 26th April
Venue: Cougar Park, Keighley
Three from three for Keighley as the Cougars look to put right the wrongs of the last months whilst North Wales head to Yorkshire without a win in three after a unbeaten March.
Last Time Out
The Cougars made it three from three as they stunned Kingston Park to comfortably defeat the Newcastle Thunder.
Hamish Barnes, a Paul White double and Jesse Sheriffe blew Newcastle away and despite the threat of comeback three tries in the last eight minutes from James Feather, White and Paul March wrapped up the victory for the visitors.
North Wales, with only seventeen fit players in the squad, went down 38-12 at home to Featherstone Rovers in the Challenge Cup Fifth Round.
Jamie Dallimore and Tommy Johnson’s efforts were no more than consolation tries as the Championship side proved too much for the Wrexham based outfit who comfortably booked their place in Round Six.
David March (Hamstring) looks set to return from injury while Matthew Bailey and Jode Sheriffe are both cleared of concussion after taking knocks to the head during the win at Newcastle. Rikki Sheriffe’s transfer from Halifax hasn’t gone through in time for the back to play.
Back rowers Jono Smith and Alex Thompson are fit and expected to return from injury for North Wales whilst Joe Philbin and George King will also return to the side on dual registration from the Warrington Wolves.
The forward packs are big hitters and will provide a big match up in the middle of the park. Joe Philbin has Super League experience and will provide a big test for Josh Lynam with Ryan Duffy and Brendon Rawlins set to have an interesting match-up from the front row.
What The Coaches Say
Keighley Cougars Player-Coach Paul March: We set standards in our first game against York, fell below them against Hemel but certainly picked them up at Newcastle last week. The surface up there suited our style of play.
“I’m happy with the way things are going but it’s another tough test this week against North Wales, one of the sides who were relegated with us. We won one and they won one last year so we’re expecting a tough test and hopefully we can come out on top.”
North Wales Crusaders Coach Anthony Murray: “I wanted our boys to put up a good showing and we did for 65 minutes then due to the superior fitness and physicality of their players, they just ran away with it when our boys dropped off a little bit.
“I’m hoping our players have got a lot out of that for this week. Keighley seem to have found a rich vein of form recently and I’m sure they’re going to be looking for a little bit of revenge because we beat them there last year.
“They’ll obviously be wanting to carry on their league form and stay at the top of the table. We’re going there with some decent form ourselves. We got to the iPro Cup final at Blackpool, were a bit unfortunate against Newcastle and put up a half-decent showing against Featherstone. It will be nice to get back to league action and gauge where we’re at. Keighley are a good team and the league table doesn’t lie.”
When North Wales won at Cougar Park last season they blew Keighley away in the first half hour, however, this Cougars side are buzzing with confidence and are a far more dangerous side than that from last August – Keighley by 10.