Doncaster RL v Keighley Cougars Match Preview by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)
Date: Sunday 21st May
Venue: Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster
After setting the new club record for the highest points scored in defeat last time out at home to Barrow, the Cougars hit South Yorkshire for a derby date at the Keepmoat Stadium with Doncaster.
LAST TIME OUT:
Doncaster’s first game following the departure of Gary Thornton saw the side record a 24-50 victory away at the Hemel Stags. Richie Barnett, Tom Carr and Jason Tali all crossed for braces of tries with further scores on the afternoon coming through Kyle Kesik, Jordie Hedges, Sam Doherty and Louis Sheriff secured the victory at Pennine Way.
The Cougars scored 42 points against Barrow but still fell to defeat at Cougar Park. Despite an early Brendon Rawlins try, the Raiders raced into a 6-30 lead before tries from Matthew Bailey and Emmerson Whittel made it a twelve point gap at the break. A second Rawlins try and tries from Mike Emmett, Scott Law and Harry Aaronson in the second-half couldn’t prevent the loss.
Pete Green can welcome Jason Muranka (Ribs) back from injury following the victory at Hemel but will still be without Jamie Thackray who is ruled out through suspension. The Dons powerhouse prop Iafeta Palea’aesina (Achilles) is still out through the injury he sustained in the Dons draw with London Skolars at the beginning of the month.
Craig Lingard will welcome the trio of James Feather (Illness), Josh Lynam (Back) and Josh Tonks (Foot) back from injury but is still without Hamish Barnes (Knee) who is joined on the sidelines by Andy Gabriel (Ribs). Liam Darville comes into the side after impressing for the reserves whilst Neil Cherryholme and Adam Brook drop out the squad.
The Dons pose one of the division’s most dangerous and powerful centres in Paupa New Guinea international Jason Tali and his battle with Adam Ryder at the Keepmoat on Sunday will no doubt be one that leads to plenty of big hits and powerful runs and is definitely one to keep an eye on once the whistle blows for kick-off.
DONCASTER: Aizue; Barnett; Braham; Doherty; England; Green; Hedges; Howden; Jones-Bishop; Kesik; Martin; Miller; Muranka; Scott; Sheriff; Spiers; Tali; Welham; Wright.
COUGARS: Aaronson; Bailey; Beharrell; Conroy; Darville; Dixon; Emmett; Feather; Finigan; Kelly; Kitson; Law; Lynam; Milner; Nicholson; Rawlins; Ryder; Tonks; Whittel.
Doncaster RL Interim Head Coach Pete Green: “We came away with the result against Hemel and that is exactly what we wanted, we have been good in training and it was always going to be tough.
“We created a lot of opportunities in the first half but we just have to make sure that we keep taking the chances when we get them.
“I know it’s a cliché, but we have to take every game as it comes, we have a hard month coming up but we talk about ourselves being realistically up there for promotion and the lads are looking forward to the challenge.
“There is a good mood in the dressing room after the win against Hemel, we conceded a lot more points than we would have wanted, it is a relief to get that first win which has taken us up to fourth.”
Keighley Cougars Head Coach Craig Lingard: “It makes it slightly more difficult in terms of preparing than what it would have been if Gary Thornton was still there as you preview teams based on what they have been doing in previous weeks.
“They are fourth in the table, so it’s not as if they are fourth from bottom. It looks like a bit of a knee jerk reaction to the draw against London Skolars.
“I’ve reviewed that game and the Doncaster winger Aaron Jones-Bishop dropped the ball twice with no one in front of him, if he had scored those they might have won and it would have been a different story.
“But we need to get our house in order and making sure we fix up what we need to and carry out the same attacking play we had last week.”
The referee for this Kingstone Press League One Round Eight fixture at the Keepmoat Stadium is Greg Dolan from Batley. This will be Dolan’s first Cougars first-team appointment of the 2017 season but refereed the previous meeting between the two in South Yorkshire last August as the Don’s recorded a 26-24 victory over the Cougars.
Craig Lingard will be hoping that his defence has tightened up following the Barrow defeat and takes advantage of a wounded animal in Doncaster who lost Head Coach Gary Thornton before falling over the line in victory at Hemel last Sunday. Games between the two at the Keepmoat have tended to be close affairs and Sunday will no doubt be different.