Coventry Bears v Keighley Cougars Match Preview by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)
Date: Sunday 7th May
Venue: Butts Park Arena, Coventry
After a nail biting Good Friday victory over Hunslet RL at Cougar Park, the Cougars return to action following a 23 day break from action as they head to the Midlands to face the Coventry Bears in the first of their two games in four days.
LAST TIME OUT:
Coventry recorded their first win off the 2017 League One campaign as they defeated Oxford RL 38-28 at the Butts Park Arena. A Richard Hughes brace in the second half added to efforts from Jack Morrison, Harry Chapman, Jamahl Hunte, Zach Johnson and Matt Reid whilst Brad Delaney converted six of his seven efforts at goal.
The Cougars made it back-to-back victories with a hard fought 20-12 home victory over Hunslet RL. Brad Nicholson sealed the victory with his second try off the afternoon in the final minute with the Cougars further try on the afternoon come through Adam Ryder with Matty Beharrell converting a penalty in the second half for Lingard’s side.
Coventry Bears Head Coach Tom Tsang is expected to go into this fixture with an unchanged squad from the one that beat Oxford on Good Friday in their last game. Despite not being named in the 19 man squad with the RFL, winger Hayden Freeman has been named in the Bears squad on Social Media.
Craig Lingard will be without Ritchie Hawkyard for 6-8 weeks following surgery to repair the number of facial injuries he sustained in the victory over Hunslet. Josh Lynam (Back) and Ben Sagar (Hamstring) also miss out but there is a return from injury for Scott Law (Bicep). Emmerson Whittel (Jaw) is fit to play but the trip to Coventry comes too soon for the back row forward.
The Bears pose two dangerous threats in attacks down the wing in Hayden Freeman and Jamahl Hunte with both strong carriers off the ball with a hard running game. They will keep Andy Gabriel and Vinny Finigan on their toes come 3pm on Sunday, so keep your eyes on the flanks during Sunday’s clash at the Butts Park Arena.
BEARS: Aldred; Barratt; Beddows; Chapman; Delaney; Freeman; Gaylor; Geurtjens; Gover; Hughes; Hunte; Johnson; Meadows; Medforth; Morrison; Prior; Reid; Russell; Sherratt.
COUGARS: Aaronson; Bailey; Barnes; Beharrell; Brook; Cherryholme; Conroy; Dixon; Emmett; Feather; Finigan; Gabriel; Kelly; Law; Milner; Nicholson; Rawlins; Ryder; Tonks.
Coventry Bears Head Coach Tom Tsang: “That win over Oxford did wonders for our confidence. Against Oxford everything fell into place, now we have to do the same again, and a little bit more, against Keighley who are a quality side.
“Keighley are in the top third of the table, having won three of their first five league games, and it is against sides like this that we have to measure our progress.”
Keighley Cougars Head Coach Craig Lingard: “Some weeks you think we’ve got there and then the following week, you think we’ve gone back a couple of steps.
“There’s been such a high turnover of players, while players who were here last year are still getting used to me and the other coaches and about how we want to play the game.
“It’s been difficult for some of the players in that they have never had as much freedom as what I’m probably giving them. We give them a basic game plan and say to them ‘we’ll give you a fall-back and give you certain patterns to play with start points but what happens after that – you’re on the field and it’s up to you to do it’.
“Some players have taken to that really well and some are still getting to grips with it. It’s still a learning process but we are getting there slowly. Where we are at the minute is 70-75 per cent of where we want to be, which I suppose at this stage of the season is good. It’s something to build on.”
This Sunday’s referee for the League One Round Six clash at the Butts Park Arena is Billy Pearson from Barnsley. This will be the first team Pearson has been assigned for a Cougars first team fixture but he did however referee the Reserves sides pre-season friendly victory over amateur side Victoria Rangers in the 2015 season.
Both these sides may show a little ring rust in the early goings with both being out of action since Good Friday, but in the past clashes between the two have been tight yet high scoring affairs with the previous meeting at the Butts Park Arena seeing the Cougars emerge victorious after a superb second half showing. The Cougars should have enough though for a third win on the bounce – KEIGHLEY BY 20.