Sunday sees a game that marks the end of two exiles. The first is that it's the last game of Hornets' six week annual odyssey imposed by the Spotland pitch works.
The other is that - by our calculations - it's the last game of Cougars' coach Paul March's two month stadium ban imposed after the RFL found him guilty of verbally abusing match officials.
The terms of his ban mean that he cannot be present in the stadium 90 minutes before the kick off at any first or second team Keighley Cougars game, he can only return to the stadium 30 minutes after the full time whistle, and he is not allowed to communicate with his team or staff during the game.
|Wax on, wax off - Paul March's new viewpoint today|
"It's not so bad when we're at home because I've got a viewing point outside the ground," March said. "At the back of the posts there's a petrol station and I can see 90 per cent of the pitch from a fence in the car wash. The frustrating thing is that I can see things going on and I can't do anything about it because I can't communicate with the bench."
So expect to see him gazing forlornly through the fence on Sunday.
This week Ross Heppenstall - Bradford Bulls reporter for the Argus and the Keighley News, who also covers the Cougars - described Keighley as: "… well placed in eighth spot heading into Sunday’s home clash with lowly Rochdale."
Whilst he's clearly a patronising bastard soured by watching too much of lowly Bradford's slow Super League suicide, sitting comfortably with an 8 & 8 record - plus four of those elusive bonus points - Keighley do have the feel of a club that's got to grips with Championship life, and has acquired the nous that enables them to not only find ways to win, but more importantly to 'lose well'.
Keighley come into Sunday's game buoyed by a cheeky 13 point win at fast-fading Sheffield who, incidentally, have won only two home league games at Owlerton - the Whitebank of the Championship. Danny Jones with the late drop goal to deny Sheffield the bonus point.
Indeed the win was engineered by Jones and his half-back partner, the redoubtable Paul Handforth, who provided ample opportunity for Cougars' jumbo-sized pack to wreak havoc. So a clear danger there.
Hornets can take confidence from last week's game at Halifax. Take three freakish long-range tries out of the equation and the game was pretty even, Hornets showing the graft and determination that takes you a long way - but boy, do teams hit your errors hard at this level …
Sunday provides a great opportunity to tee-up our return to Spotland with a morale-boosting performance, so let's get over there in numbers and hope we can all top-up our tans on the popular side at Lawkholme Lane.
See you Sunday - bring your singing voice.
Keighley - Parking Warning
If you're heading over on Sunday, a friendly word of warning from BurleyCougar on parking around the ground. He/she says: " If you happen to park at the Bottom end of the ground (Opposite the McDonalds end ) please DO NOT park on any of the side roads that lead off the main road (Royd Ings Avenue) as a few of them are private roads , if you park there you will get ticketed. They turn up after kick off and pounce, have lost track of the amount of tickets they have dished out this season. Also anti-Cougars parking are the following: Retail park behind K.F.C., the swimming pool further back from ground on Hard Ings Road and the Carpetright just after petrol station on same side of ground. There is plenty of parking on the main road at bottom end of ground (Royd ings Avenue) and there is a club car park about 50 yards from the bottom turnstiles"
So now you know.
Official RFL Preview
Keighley Cougars coach Paul March is preparing for the penultimate game of his two-month stadium ban on Sunday.
Cougars host struggling Rochdale Hornets, who have lost their last seven games, just seven days after an impressive victory against Sheffield Eagles.
But Rochdale coach Ian Talbot insists his side can halt their recent run of form, having been encouraged by last week’s 42-24 defeat against Halifax.
Talbot said: “There were big signs of improvement in that game, and at 55 minutes the game was there for the taking.”
Hornets expect to have Ryan Millard available after a recent knee injury, with Talbot reporting no new concerns in his squad.
He added: “Keighley are hitting a bit of form and it’s never easy to go to Cougar Park.
“They’ve got experience across the park, with Danny Jones and Paul Handforth steering them well and Richie Barnett is always a threat out wide.
“We’ve just go to take each game as it comes and just worry about ourselves and the challenges in front of us.”