Keighley Cougars v Toronto Wolfpack Match Preview by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)
Date: Sunday 26th March
Venue: Cougar Park, Keighley
After a much improved performance in defeat to Barrow last Saturday evening, the Cougars are back on home turf for the first time in three weeks for their toughest test of the season as the Toronto Wolfpack and the Premier Sports cameras roll into town.
LAST TIME OUT:
The Cougars exited the Challenge Cup with a 20-0 defeat away at the Barrow Raiders. Despite the horrendous conditions the game was played in, a Lewis Charnock double and tries from Shane Toal and Declan Hulme secured progression into the Fifth Round for the Raiders. Harry Aaronson had an effort ruled out for double movement for the Cougars.
Toronto continued their sensational start to life with the shock of the round as they picked up a 26-30 victory away at the London Broncos. Tries from Craig Hall, Liam Kay, Jack Bussey, Jonny Pownall and Rhys Jacks for the Wolfpack saw them through to a fifth round tie at Salford but only after holding off a late fightback from the Broncos.
Craig Lingard will be without Sean Kelly (Knee), Nathan Conroy (Ankle) and Emmerson Whittel (Jaw) for the visit of the Wolfpack. However, Scott Law (Hamstring), Ritchie Hawkyard (Ribs) and Matty Beharrell (Knee) all are fit to play as is Brad Nicholson (Illness) who missed out on the defeat at Barrow last Saturday evening.
Paul Rowley comes to Cougar Park without Fuifui Moimoi who will be serving the final game of his three match suspension for a shoulder charge in last month’s victory at Siddal. Fui aside, with the exception of injured centre Greg Worthington and utility back Reece Dean who is on a month’s loan at Sheffield Eagles, the Wolfpack have a full fit squad to choose from.
There are a number interesting battles around the pitch at Cougar Park on Sunday but the key battle will be who handles the elements better. Whilst it is forecast to be dry and warm come 3pm on Sunday, the pitch has taken a battering this week in the appalling weather and as the games against Siddal and Whitehaven have shown to date the Wolfpack aren’t at there best in the mud. Can the Cougars use this to their advantage and spring the surprise?
COUGARS: Bailey; Beharrell; Brook; Casey; Emmett; Feather; Finigan; Gabriel; Hawkyard; Kitson; Law; Lynam; Milner; Nicholson; Rawlins; Ryder; Sagar; Tonks; Welsh.
WOLFPACK: Beswick; Burroughs; Crossley; Dempsey; Dixon; Emmitt; Everett; Fleming; Hall; Jacks; Kay; Laithwaite; Laulu-Togagae; Pick; Pownall; Sidlow; Wallace; Wheeler; Whiting.
Keighley Cougars Head Coach Craig Lingard: “We just need to get our own house in order and not worry about them too much because we know the sort of players they have got. It is important we don’t get over-awed by the occasion too much and we concentrate on doing what we need to do.
“If we can challenge in that first 20-25 minutes and keep it nice and tight then you never know what can happen.
“If we can get an early score or two then that would give us a real confidence boost to realise it is man against man. “They all have two arms and two legs and they are not super heroes. It is important we see the game like that.
“I’m definitely glad we are at home. It would have been a good experience to go over there but it makes it even harder with the playing roster they have got. It will be hard enough regardless of where you are playing, so if you put into the equation the travel to Canada and players being out of their comfort zone, it would definitely be harder to play them away.”
Toronto Wolfpack Head Coach Paul Rowley has yet to comment.
This Sunday’s referee at Cougar Park for this historic first meeting between the two clubs is Andy Sweet from Castleford. Sweet is no stranger to the Cougars and this will be his second appointment of the season after officiating the pre-season friendly victory over the Hunslet Warriors in Early January. His last competitive appointment for a Cougars fixture came last July in the Super Eights defeat at home to Hunslet RL.
The Cougars are a completely different animal at Cougar Park to the one that plays away from home and given the conditions this week with the rain and snow battering the region, the pitch won’t be at it’s best and will help Linners and his side slow an otherwise pacey Toronto side down around the park, this could be the toughest challenge the Wolfpack face on English soil in League One and is the most likely opportunity that a surprise defeat could be inflicted. – COUGARS BY 2.