By James Whaling, Rugby Leaguer & League Express.
Keighley player-coach Paul March insists that the unusually long grass at Cougar Park for Thursday’s Championship victory over Workington Town wasn’t a deliberate ploy.
The Cougars got back to winning ways with a 28-20 triumph, and seemed to use the length of the grass to their advantage, particularly in the in-goal area, where the ball repeatedly stood up instead of running over the dead-ball line.
According to the RFL Minimum Standards report, “The pitch should be: flat and level, the surface should allow for a fast and free moving game and provide adequate grip for players and be safe.”
March said: “The groundsman can only get on the field when it’s dry, and we’ve had a lot of rain over the last couple of weeks. He did manage to get on the field a few hours before kick-off to take a bit off, but it was slightly long. You can’t cut the grass when it’s wet as it ruins the pitch; it certainly wasn’t a ploy on our behalf.”
The pitch markings were also an issue, with the touchlines barely visible on the television coverage. RFL guidelines state that it is the match commissioner and referee’s responsibility to check that line markings are clear on a match day.
Keighley had raced into a comfortable 24-0 half time lead, but Town came back to make it a nervy last fifteen minutes for the Cougar Park faithful.
The victory snapped Keighley’s streak of six consecutive defeats, and March is now looking for his team to gather momentum and launch an assault on the play off positions. “When we sat down at the beginning of the season the top eight was our goal, and that hasn’t changed. We now go into the next five matches expecting to win, and if we do that the top eight will be in our hands.”