Hemel Stags v Keighley Cougars Match Preview by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)
Date: Sunday 9th April
Venue: Pennine Way Stadium, Hemel Hempstead
After the defence of the League One Cup came to an end away at Barrow last Sunday, the Cougars return to League One action looking for a first win since the 5th March as they face Hemel Stags, a side yet to win in any competition so far in the 2017 season.
LAST TIME OUT:
Hemel Stags fell to a fifth consecutive defeat in 2017 as they were handed a 82-0 thrashing away from home at the Barrow Raiders. The Stags conceded 15 tries on a very difficult evening in Cumbria with the game effecitvely over as a contest after just the opening 20 minutes.
The Cougars League One Cup defence ended with a 28-6 away defeat at the Barrow Raiders. Adam Brook’s second half effort may have been the first try Barrow conceded at home in 291 minutes, but proved to be a mere consolation as the Raiders proved too strong for the Cougars for the second time in as many weeks.
Head Coach Troy Perkins is set to ring the changes following the defeat in Barrow a fortnight ago. Santino Decaro (Shoulder) and Ross White (Calf) are out injured whilst Jorge Richardson and Charlie Brown drop out of the side that went down heavily to the Raiders. Lewis Fairhurst, Aaron James, Harley Axe and Alex Williams come into the seventeen.
Craig Lingard will be without Will Milner (Concussion) and Scott Law (Hamstring) who join Emmerson Whittel (Jaw) on the sidelines. Linners does welcome Nathan Conroy (Ankle) back after a month out through injury with Neil Cherryholme set to make his first apperance of the season after being included in the 19 man squad.
Stags versatile hooker Jono Burns has been credited with adding enthusasim to a youthful and struggling Stags side but will have to be at the very top of his game if he is to combat the threat posed to him this Sunday by Cougars Captain James Feather and Nathan Conroy. On their day, you will struggle to find a better duo out of dummy half and Burns will have to be wary from the moment the game gets underway.
STAGS: Axe; Barlow; Burns; Elliott; Fairhurst; Forde; Gregory; Halliday; Horn; James; Jonas; Jowett; Lee; O’Brien; Thornton; Tomlinson; Vincent; A Williams; R Williams.
COUGARS: Aaronson; Bailey; Beharrell; Brook; Cherryholme; Conroy; Darville; Dixon; Emmett; Feather; Finigan; Gabriel; Hawkyard; Lynam; Nicholson; Rawlins; Ryder; Sagar; Tonks.
Hemel Stags Head Coach Troy Perkins has yet to comment.
Keighley Cougars Head Coach Craig Lingard: “We will be going with our strongest team, which is what we have done for the past three weeks.
“I am not going to say to the lads who have slogged their guts out these last three weeks, going up to Barrow twice and playing against Toronto, that I am going to give them a rest.
“Obviously we are going to look at our team performance-wise but we will be going with our strongest team.”
This Sunday’s referee for the League One Round Four meeting between the Stags and the Cougars at Pennine Way is Matthew Rossleigh from London. The Australian born official is a regular for home games of both the Stags and London Skolars, however this is set to be the first team he has been the whistle blower for a Cougars first team fixture.
Both these sides come into the game on back of away defeats at Barrow but with the Stags now based north in Dewsbury, the element of the away side travelling has been taken away for the Cougars. Lingard’s side have now gone a month without victory and you would expect that to change against a Stags side that has shipped 180 points in their first three League One fixtures. – COUGARS BY 46.