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Cougars Head North For Annual Test – Barrow Preview

Barrow Raiders v Keighley Cougars Match Preview by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)

Date: Sunday 5th February

Time: 2:00pm

Venue: JF Hornby Stadium, Barrow-in-Furness

The Cougars retained the Joe Phillips Memorial Trophy in the most dramatic of circumstances last Sunday, now they head north to face one of their League One rivals, the Barrow Raiders, in the two clubs annual pre-season encounter.

LAST TIME OUT:

Paul Crarey give his fringe players a chance to shine as they picked up a 36-18 victory over the Coventry Bears. The Cumbrian outfit were given a real test by a resilient Bears side but the Raiders class showed eventually with tries from Shane Toal, Nathan Mossop, Luke Cresswell, Lewis Charnock, Ryan Johnston, Chris Fleming and Joe Bullock sealing the win.

The Cougars retained the Joe Phillips Memorial Trophy in a thrilling 25-24 victory over the Bradford Bulls. Despite falling behind by twelve points twice in the encounter, a Matty Beharrell drop goal with two minutes remaining won the tie following tries from Sean Hesketh, Nathan Kitson, Andy Gabriel and Emmerson Whittel during the game.

TEAM NEWS:

Paul Crarey will welcome Jarrad Stack back into his side after resting the Australian back-rower against Coventry last Sunday with Tom Walker also returning following a weeks rest. Matty Holmes and Karl Ashall are both out of action with broken arms sustained against Coventry and Whitehaven respectively but Shane Toal will continue to play on despite a broken nose.

Whilst Craig Lingard can welcome Josh Lynam (Hand) and Danny Lawton (Rib) back into his side, he will be without a number of key players with Nathan Conroy (Ankle), Ritche Hawkyard (Knee) and Adam Brook (Rib) picking up injuries against the Bulls last Sunday as they join Ben Sagar and James Pickering (Both Hamstring) on the physios table. Josh Tonks (Work Commitments) and Liam Darville (Travelling) are both unavailable for selection.

KEY BATTLE:

Barrow half-back Jamie Dallimore has notoriously been a thorn in the Cougars side no matter which opposing side he has faced Keighley in and will form a deadly partnership alongisde new signing Lewis Charnock for the season ahead. This will be a real test for Will Milner and Matty Beharrell as they come against the one of the best the League One competition has to offer.

THE COACHES:

Barrow Raiders Head Coach Paul Crarey has yet to comment.

Keighley Cougars Head Coach Craig Lingard: “We’re going to be rotating again against Barrow as we’re still not completely sure what the starting seventeen will be this year.

“There will be a lot of rotation so the side that does play against Barrow might not be the seventeen that plays against Doncaster but we’re looking at the little improvements for ourselves up there and not looking too much into the results of the game.”

THE REFEREE:

The referee for this Sunday’s annual pre-season fixture between the Raiders and the Cougars is John McMullen from Wigan. McMullen refereed the Cougars on a number of occassiosn in the 2016 season, the last of which was May’s victory away at Coventry. McMullen was also the man in the middle for the Raiders victory over Coventry last Sunday.

PREDICTION:

The Cougars will be on a real high following last Sunday’s victory over Bradford and face in truth a tougher test this Sunday away from home at Barrow. It will be a close fought game as it always is between these two sides and it’s hard to pick a winner but the Cougars should be able to see the job through. – KEIGHLEY BY 2

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