Whitehaven v Keighley Cougars Match Preview by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)
Date: Sunday 20th August
Venue: Recreation Ground, Whitehaven
After sealing a dramatic but well deserved point against the Toronto Wolfpack last Sunday, the Cougars head to Cumbria to face Whitehaven this Sunday at the Recreation Ground in a game that is only going ahead thanks to the superb work of the Whitehaven grounds staff to clear a large amount of standing water from the pitch this week.
LAST TIME OUT:
Whitehaven lost further ground on Toronto and Barrow at the top of League One as they fell to a 30-22 defeat away at Doncaster RL. Tries from Jesse Joe Parker and Connor Holliday sent Haven into the interval only trailing by 4 points but they took a 22-20 lead after a try from Tommy Holland and a second for Parker but Doncaster scored twice late on to condemn Carl Forster’s side to a second defeat in the Super Eights.
A Matty Beharrell penalty kick at the death sealed a point against Toronto for the Cougars. Despite falling behind early doors, tries from Hamish Barnes and Vinny Finigan gave the Cougars a 12-4 lead but they headed into the half-time break trailing by ten points. A superb second half showing saw tries from first Ritchie Hawkyard and a superb indiviudal Finigan effort close the gap to two points before Beharrell slotted over for the two points to secure a famous draw.
Whitehaven Player-Coach Carl Forster has put himself straight back into the side after missing last Sunday’s defeat to Doncaste through suspension. Dion Aiye is also back into the squad after missing last weekend’s trip to South Yorkshire through injury while Jordan Hand is also back from injury but misses out on a return. Scott McAvoy drops out.
Cougars Head Coach Craig Lingard will be without Scott Law (Leg) after the Prop sustained a nasty knock during last Sunday’s draw with the Wolfpack. Josh Tonks returns following his five game suspension for his dismissal in June’s defeat to York while Brad Nicholson (Quad) returns after missing the last three games through suspension and injury.
Josh Tonks will be a man with a point to prove after sitting out for the best part of two months through suspension and along with in form Ben Sagar will provide Connor Holliday and Papua New Guinea international Dion Aiye, who is returning from injury, with a stern test this Sunday afternoon in Cumbria.
WHITEHAVEN: Aiye; Burns; Calvert; Crook; Forster; Green; Holland; Holliday; Miller; Newton; Olstrum; Parker; Riley; Roper; Shackley; Taylor; Thompson; Tilley; Worthington.
COUGARS: Aaronson; Bailey; Barnes; Beharrell; Brook; Conroy; Dixon; Emmett; Feather; Finigan; Gabriel; Hawkyard; Nicholson; O’Sullivan; Rawlins; Reed; Ryder; Sagar; Tonks.
Whitehaven Player-Coach Carl Forster: “We already know from that last meeting Keighley will be a tough nut to crack, but we will be preparing accordingly and spending a lot of time on our defence this week.
“The race for the top five is hotting up and it’s disappointing to have lost two out of our first four games in the Eights, which is why we will need to record a home win on Sunday.”
Keighley Cougars Head Coach Craig Lingard: “It becomes a dilemma when you’ve been undefeated in five games and people are starting to come back to fitness. But those players have to force their way into the team.
“In Tonks’ case, he is a really important player for us. His aggression, the way that he carries the ball, and his enthusiasm makes him someone that you want in the team.
“He will strengthen us and, hopefully, Nicholson will be available as well. Then we might have some headaches about who to select rather than who can we select because we haven’t got enough bodies.
“It’s disappointing I suppose that Whitehaven got beaten by Doncaster because we would’ve been in the top five after that but, it is what it is. We didn’t get that favour. All we can do is keep winning games or keep chalking these draws off and not getting beat.”
The referee for this Kingstone Press League One Super Eights Round Four fixture at the Recreation Ground is Greg Dolan. This will be the second successive Sunday that Dolan has officiated the Marras but only the second time this season he has been the whistle blower for a Cougars game in 2017 with his previous appointment coming in May’s defeat away at Doncaster RL.
The Cougars are very much the in-form team of Kingstone Press League One after five games unbeaten and the draw against Toronto was more than deserved last time out. Whitehaven will be hurting after losing away at Doncaster last weekend and will be glad to be back on home soil and on a pitch which may still be suffering the after effects of flooding earlier in the week. This promises to be yet another belting 80 minutes of Super Eights Rugby League.