Barrow Raiders v Keighley Cougars Match Preview by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)
Date: Sunday 17th September
Venue: J F Hornby Stadium, Barrow-In-Furness
The Cougars sent Buster and Chez out at Cougar Park on a high with a victory over Workington which leaves them a point of the final play-off place heading into the final game of the season at Barrow this Sunday. With Doncaster away in Toronto, it could be said that a rare Craven Park triumph would be enough to secure a top five finish for Craig Lingard and his side.
LAST TIME OUT:
Barrow headed across the Atlantic for the second time this year and were defeated 26-2 as Toronto Wolfpack secured the League One title and promotion with a game to spare. A 40 yard penalty conversion from Lewis Charnock was the Raiders only points on the night in Canada as the Wolfpack ran in three second half tries to seal victory and the right to be Champions.
The Cougars bowed out at home in 2017 with a 28-6 victory over Workington Town in horrific conditions at Cougar Park. First half tries from James Feather, Matthew Bailey and Josh Lynam were followed up by further second half efforts from Josh Tonks and Ritchie Hawkyard to secure the two points and send the side into Sunday with something still to play for.
Paul Crarey’s side returned from Toronto with a number of players carrying knocks who need assessing ahead of Sunday’s game. Tom Walker (Tongue) is included in the squad despite requiring stitches to hold his tongue together following a nasty collision in the defeat to the Wolfpack but ‘Cresta’ should be able to bring back in those who were unable to miss the trip across the Atlantic.
Cougars Head Coach Craig Lingard confirmed that Nathan Conroy (Ankle) and Trae O’Sullivan (Leg) will miss the remainder of the season and lost Josh Lynam (Hamstring) to an injury sustained in training. Hamish Barnes (Back) and Scott Law (Leg) both returned to training this week and are in contention for recalls ahead of a fourth trip of the year to Barrow.
Bar the exception of the Wednesday night madness against the Raiders at Cougar Park in the League One regular season, games between these two are traditionally physical affairs in which defences and the forward pack traditionally come out on top. Joe Bullock is a stand out for both the Raiders and in League One as a whole and will provide yet another challenging afternoon for the Cougars front row at Craven Park.
RAIDERS: Ashall; Aspinwall; Bullock; Carter; Charnock; Crellinn; Cresswell; Dallimore; Deurden; Fieldhouse; Hulme; Loxam; Morrow; Mossop; Stack; D Toal; S Toal; Walker; Wilkes.
COUGARS: Aaronson; Bailey; Barnes; Beharrell; Brook; Cherryholme; Darville; Dixon; Emmett; Feather; Gabriel; Hawkyard; Kelly; Law; Nicholson; Rawlins; Ryder; Sagar; Tonks.
Barrow Raiders Head Coach Paul Crarey: “Tom Walker nearly had his tongue in half and had to have stitches in it after the game, and it was a right mess, he played on after that, but it looked as if his tongue was going to drop of at one stage.
“We had a couple of bad knocks and we’re going to get them in those sort of games.
“I talked to a few of their players and they were really complementary of our lads and Paul Rowley said it was the most physical game his boys had played, especially over there.
“It was a real ding-dong battle in the middle and probably the difference was their back three returning the ball.
Keighley Cougars Head Coach Craig Lingard: : “I’m not really pleased with the Workington performance, they didn’t retain the ball as well as I would’ve liked.
“We’ve scored a lot of points this year and that’s probably good going to stand us in good stead if Toronto beat Doncaster and we beat Barrow.
“But we’re going to have to improve considerably, we can’t turn out like we did against Workington at Barrow and expect to win.
“Got to take some of the positives out of last week’s game though, we got the win and our defence was really good which is a really pleasing aspect of our game giving the amount of defensive work we had to do.
The referee for this Kingstone Press League One Super Eights Round Seven fixture at the J F Hornby Stadium is Nick Bennett from Sheffield. This game will be Bennett’s fourth appointment as the man in the middle for the Cougars this season after he officiated League One victories over North Wales and London Skolars and also the Cougars League One Cup Quarter Final defeat against Barrow in early April.
The Cougars know with Doncaster away at Toronto and a far superior points difference compared to the Dons and Newcastle that victory in Cumbria will secure fifth place, play-off football and another trip to Barrow. To do that though, they will have to be on the ball throughout against a notrious bogey side in tough conditions and take advantage of any mistake the Raiders might make fresh of a physical and exhausting trip across the Atlantic last weekend.