Keighley Cougars v York City Knights Match Preview by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)
Date: Sunday 25th June
Venue: Cougar Park, Keighley
After a superb second half showing saw off the London Skolars last Sunday, the Cougars are back on home turf once more as the York City Knights visit in a huge match in the race for both a top eight and a top four finish.
LAST TIME OUT:
The Cougars came back from a 14-18 half time deficit to register a 45-26 victory over the London Skolars. Davey Dixon, Matthew Bailey and a try of the season contender from Harry Aaronson in the first half were followed by second half efforts from Mike Emmett, Dixon, Matt Beharrell, James Feather and Nathan Conroy whilst Beharrell also slotted over a drop goal.
The Knights recent good form came to an end as they lost 16-18 at home to high flying Whitehaven. Despite trailing 4-18, two late tries from Brad Hey and Tim Spears brought the home side within two points with four minutes left to play but Connor Robinson missed all three attempts on goal following Spears try to rescue the home side a point.
Craig Lingard will be without Vinny Finigan (Ankle) once more and he is joined in the medical room by Scott Law (Groin) who sustained an injury against the Skolars. Ritchie Hawkyard (Facial) is still at least a fortnight away from a return whilst Ben Sagar’s recent impressive performances for the reserves earn him a call up to the 19 man squad. Otherwise, Lingard sticks with the same side that saw off London.
The Knights will be without Harry Carter (Hernia) who was rushed to hospital for an emergency operation following the defeat to Whitehaven last Sunday. Former Cougar Samir Taharoui (Knee) is still unavailable having yet to make his debut for the minster club. Tuoyo Egodo joined the club Friday from Castleford and is expected to debut whilst fellow new recruit Ryan Mallinder is not included.
In Connor Robinson and Pat Smith, the Knights possess a real threat from the number 9 position and the duo will provide a stern test for James Feather and Nathan Conroy as well as the Cougars pack in and around the ruck. This should be an enthralling battle throughout this Sunday afternoon.
COUGARS: Aaronson; Bailey; Barnes; Beharrell; Brook; Cherryholme; Conroy; Dixon; Emmett; Feather; Gabriel; Lynam; Milner; Nicholson; Rawlins; Ryder; Sagar; Tonks; Whittel.
KNIGHTS: Batchelor; Dixon; Egodo; Foggin-Johnston; Haynes; Hey; Jubb; Moran; Morrison; A Robinson; C Robinson; Robson; Saxton; Siddons; E Smith; P Smith; Spears; B Tyson-Wilson; H Tyson-Wilson.
Keighley Cougars Head Coach Craig Lingard: “This is the most competitive League One has ever been. There’s never been a Toronto before and three Cumbrian teams in there.
“Then you’ve got the heartland teams, including ourselves, and expansion teams, who have had five, six, seven years to get going and are now finding their feet and stronger.
“Every team in the league has got players who have ability and like to play a bit of rugby. If the defence is good then they are going to score points against you, so it is very difficult at the minute.
“You have no God-given right to be in the top eight or the top four. You’ve got to fight for every point you get.”
York City Knights Head Coach James Ford: “I thought we were miles away from the standards we’ve set ourselves against Whitehaven. Some of the stuff we did with the ball was unrecognisable.
“We have shown when we have an off day we still have enough fight and character to be in the game against a good team and we should have taken something from the game – we certainly had enough chances.
“We got somewhere near in the second half when the standards were more like the team we’ve seen in the last few weeks and in practice.
“I think the effort from the middle was fantastic, especially after we lost Chris Siddons (to sunstroke) after 10 minutes leaving us a player down for 70 minutes.
“But we’re a bit disgusted with ourselves – we know we’re better than we performed against Whitehaven.”
The referee for this Kingstone Press League One Round Twelve fixture at Cougar Park is Tom Crashley from Castleford. Crashley’s last Keighley appointment came in the high scoring League One defeat away at Rochdale Hornets last July in which a late rally from the Cougars proved too late after being on the back foot for the majority of the game.
Cougar Park is a traditional bogey ground for the Knights with the club only winning twice in Keighley since it’s re-formation in 2002 but the one thing you can’t do with the Knights under James Ford is write them off as they have established themselves as the ultimate underdogs over the past three years. A victory for Keighley would take them up to fourth and give them great momentum heading into next week’s trip to Whitehaven so two points is again extremely important. It promises to be an absolute corker this Sunday at Cougar Park.