North Wales Crusaders v Keighley Cougars Match Preview by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)
Date: Sunday 20th May
Venue: Queensway Stadium, Wrexham
Records went tumbling against the Coventry Bears a fortnight ago, but the Cougars face a much tougher challenge on the road this Sunday as they head to Queensway for the second time this season looking to put right the wrongs of February’s Challenge Cup defeat whilst maintaining a top five position in League One.
LAST TIME OUT:
North Wales continued their recent upturn in form with a somewhat surprising 22-25 victory away at Whitehaven. Steve Roper and Gavin Conroy tries put the visitors into a 12 point lead but Whitehaven pulled back to level the scores but further tries from Ryan Smith and Kenny Baker and a Brad Walker drop goal sealed the victory for the Crusaders after they held off a late fightback from their hosts.
The Cougars ran riot to record a record 98-6 home victory over the Coventry Bears at Cougar Park. Adam Ryder crossed for a hat-trick with Harry Aaronson, Andy Gabriel and Brendon Rawlins all helping themselves to a brace of tries. Further tries on the day came through Benn Hardcastle, Matthew Bailey, Josh Tonks, Dan Parker, Scott Law, Brad Nicholson, Ritchie Hawkyard and Matty Beharrell.
North Wales Head Coach Anthony Murray calls upon the dual-registration agreement with Widnes to include four Vikings in his side as Ed Chapelhow, Joe Lyons, Dan Norman and Brad Walker all come into the Crusaders squad. Tommy Johnson (Back), James Dandy (Shoulder), Lee Hudson (Groin) and Warren Thompson (Knee) are ruled out through injury with Jonny Walker and Alex Thompson also unavailable.
Cougars Head Coach Craig Lingard welcomes Darrell Griffin (Quad) back into his 19 man squad after being rested against the Bears last time out. He replaces Harry Aaronson in the side, who along with Lewis Fairhurst, is on international duty with the English Universities side this weekend. Hamish Barnes (Shoulder), Josh Lynam (Arm) and Emmerson Whittel (Knee) still remain as Lingard’s only three long-term injuries.
In February’s game of two halves in the Challenge Cup, North Wales centre Simon Atherton proved the game changer as he caused the Cougars nightmares throughout a sensational second-half. It will be up to the likes of Adam Ryder and Andy Gabriel to make sure there is no repeat performance at Queensway this weekend.
CRUSADERS: Atherton, Baker, Bate, Bloomfield, Brennan, Case, Chapelhow, Conroy, Houghton, Hulme, Knox, Lyons, Millington, Moore, Norman, Roper, Smith, Trumper, Walker.
COUGARS: Bailey, Beharrell, Conroy, Dixon, Emmett, Gabriel, Griffin, Hallas, Hardcastle, Hawkyard, Law, Leeming, Nicholson, Parker, Rawlins, Ryder, Tonks, Whiteley, Wright.
North Wales Crusaders Head Coach Anthony Murray: “They’re a really good side.
“They will have learnt from the Challenge Cup defeat here a few months ago, and will no doubt be eager to turn that around and pick up an important two points.
“Both sides will go into the game on the back of a week off following good wins and I think we’re in for a fantastic game at the Queensway with our fans right behind us.”
Keighley Cougars Head Coach Craig Lingard: “I’m keen to avoid a repeat of the Cup game in February.
“We were winning comfortably at half-time and then they came back and scored 20-odd points in the second half to beat us.
“I’ll be very disappointed if the lads turn up there just expecting to win given what’s already happened to us this year and how well North Wales are playing, with them beating Whitehaven last time out.”
The man in the middle for Sunday’s Betfred League One Round 10 meeting between these two sides at the Queensway Stadium is Nick Bennett from Sheffield. This will be the first time Bennett has been appointed to a Cougars fixture since the final game of the 2017 season when Craig Lingard’s side were defeated away at eventual play-off winners, Barrow Raiders.
Craig Lingard will be looking for the momentum from the Coventry victory to be carried into this Sunday’s trip across the border whilst also looking to avoid a repeat of February’s Challenge Cup collapse. The Crusaders will be buoyed in confidence after victories of Hemel and Whitehaven and will be glad to have their vocal and proud home support in their corner. It promises to be an absolute belter in Wrexham this Sunday!