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‘Cup Football’ As Cougars Head To Town – Workington Preview

Workington Town v Keighley Cougars Match Preview by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)

Date: Sunday 9th July

Time: 3:00pm

Venue: Derwent Park, Workington

Defeat at Whitehaven despite being the better side for the majority left the Cougars top eight hope hanging by a thread as they return to Cumbria to face Workington Town for the penultimate League One regular season fixture which is as important as ever in the battle to finish in the Top Eight.

LAST TIME OUT:

Workington Town barely broke into the second gear to register a 46-16 home victory over an under-performing London Skolars. Theerapol Ritson marked his return from injury with a personal four try haul with Wigan loanee Gabriel Fell, Scotland international Brett Phillips, half-back Jamie Doran and Macauley Davies, on dual registration from Wigan, all crossing to wrap up the victory for Dave Clark’s outfit.

The Cougars put in arguably their best forty minutes of Rugby League to take the lead into half-time but a second half spell of madness ended up with defeat away at high flying Whitehaven. Tries from Adam Brook and Brad Nicholson gave the Cougars a slender lead at the interval and despite second half efforts from Andy Gabriel and James Feather, a spell of conceding three tries in ten penalty filled minutes ended up with a defeat to the Marras.

TEAM NEWS:

Stuart Howarth (Knee) is a major injury concern for Dave Clark after being forced from the field during the victory against London Skolars but Perry Singleton (Wrist) is expected to be fit to face the Cougars after also being forced off against the Skolars. Kris Coward (Knee) and Callum Phillips are both back in training but will not feature this Sunday, however, veteran forward Phil Joseph is expected to be cleared to play this weekend.

Craig Lingard will still be without Vinny Finigan (Ankle), Scott Law (Groin) and Will Milner (Toe) who are all ruled out through injury but Ritchie Hawkyard comes into the side for the first time since suffering his facial injuries against Hunslet on Good Friday and there is a return for Brendon Rawlins (Concussion). Josh Tonks, James Feather and Hamish Barnes are all unavailable due to suspension with Batley duo Trae O’Sullivan and Brad Hill are both expected to feature next weekend against Oxford whilst Aidan Scully is expected to debut at Derwent Park.

KEY BATTLE:

Thailand international full-back Theerapol Ritson returned from injury with a four-try Man of the Match performance against the London Skolars last Sunday and is Town’s dangerman after an impressive debut season in 2016. He will be up against a fellow bright young full-back in Harry Aaronson this weekend in Cumbria and it promises to be an encounter that brings with it a lot of entertaining and breathtaking Rugby League.

THE SQUADS:

TOWN: Curwen; Davies; Doran; Fell; Fitzsimmons; Forber; Hambley; Howarth; Lister; Maudling; Moore; Mossop; Phillips; Prior; Rasool; Ritson; Ryan; Singleton; Szostak.

COUGARS: Aaronson; Bailey; Beharrell; Brook; Cherryholme; Conroy; Darville; Dixon; Emmett; Gabriel; Hawkyard; Kelly; Lynam; Nicholson; Rawlins; Ryder; Sagar; Scully; Whittel.

THE COACHES:

Workington Town Head Coach Dave Clark: “100 per cent we need to beat Keighley this weekend.

“We knew coming into the back end of the year what we needed to achieve and Keighley at home is going to be another big, tough game for us – and for them. They need the points just as much as us so that brings a bit more taste to the game.

“I think with the super eights coming up it’s great to see that the sides are challenging for that eight position. It brings another aspect to the games and importance to us definitely.”

Keighley Cougars Head Coach Craig Lingard: “I don’t think last weekend’s results make this game at Workington any more important as it was always going to be important.

“The result at Whitehaven was what it was and if we go up to Workington and beat them then we go above them in the League One table and it’s as simple as that.

“We’ve had to prepare a bit differently for this one as Workington’s pitch is smaller in size than the one at Whitehaven and will probably focus on working up the middle rather than down the edges as the Derwent Park field is narrow.

“We’re in a run of fixtures in which we’re playing teams within the top eight and we need to beat these teams in the top eight which as of yet we’ve yet to do.”

THE REFEREE:

The referee for this Kingstone Press League One Round Fourteen fixture at Derwent Park is Stephen Race from Wakefield. Race has yet to officiate a Cougars first team fixture but in the past has been voted the National Conference League’s referee of the year in 2015 and is now into his second season as a referee in the semi-professional ranks after a 14 year career refereeing within the amateur game as well as serving as a Touch Judge in the Championship and League One.

SUMMARY:

The Cougars top eight aspirations are now on a knife’s edge following defeat to Whitehaven and Craig Lingard has described this fixture as ‘Cup Football’ too his player in training this week. This game is a must win for both sides and could be made even more important dependent on Hunslet’s result on Saturday away at London Skolars and both coaches are wary of the position that a defeat will leave them in going into the final round of the regular season next weekend. It’s a big a regular season game they come in terms of league position and the difference between League One and League One Shield rugby come August.

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