Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Sunday's Coming: Keighley Cougars

Since they won the iPro Cup, courtesy of a Paul Handforth masterclass in how to boss a game, Keighley seem to have been stricken with a case of the yips.

Going down to a two point home defeat against Barrow last week via a penalty after the hooter was, according to coach Paul March ‘an absolute sickener’, coming as it did a week after the Cougars spectacularly tanked at Toulouse by a staggering 84-6.  You can see Keighley get a proper French flogging in the video below.

The two consecutive defeats leaves Keighley’s chance of making the top four dependent on Doncaster and Barrow’s forthcoming results (both Doncaster and Barrow inflicting home defeats on the Cougars this term).

Speaking on the club’s website,  Head Coach Paul March said: “We must keep going on now, we had that massive low at Toulouse where there was no effort or commitment to each other but it was the total opposite today but at times we weren’t smart enough.”

“We had a lot of the ball in the second half but spilt the ball early in sets when we should have been building pressure and getting repeat sets, but we were giving up possession too easily and allowing Barrow to build the pressure on us.

“There (are) some big games coming up now against Rochdale and York and we need to dust ourselves down and hopefully we’ll get the effort and smart Rugby League from the lads on Sunday at Rochdale.”

Conversely, Hornets secured a top four berth with last week’s flogging of Hemel Stags. Sitting third on 21 points with two games remaining, only Doncaster are close enough to overhaul Killer’s side (18 points with two games remaining). Fifth placed Barrow have only one game left and can only reach 19 points. (Whisper it quietly, but - having seen the format of the super 8s - if you finish fourth, the side finishing top come to you: second or third, you go to them!). Keighley sit 6th on 16 points with two remaining: a possible 20 points: but they do have to play us and York, who’ll be seeking revenge for their iPro Cup final defeat.

If you like a bit of mental artithmetic, the Super 8s Format is:

1st - Home v 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th / Away v 4th, 7th, 8th
2nd - Home v  3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th / Away v 1st, 5th, 8th
3rd - Home v 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th / Away v 1st, 2nd, 6th
4th - Home v 1st, 5th, 6th, 8th / Away v 2nd, 3rd, 7th
5th - Home v 2nd, 6th, 7th / Away v 1st, 3rd, 4th, 8th
6th - Home v 3rd, 7th, 8th / Away v 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th
7th - Home v 1st, 4th, 8th / Away v 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th
8th - Home v 1st, 2nd, 5th / Away v 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th

And the current league table is:

Hornets fell an agonising two points short of overhauling York last week - but had enough in the tank to power past a hardworking, but flaccid Hemel without really releasing the hand-brake. Notable last week was an absence of DR players - Corey Lee and Jordan Case making eye-catching returns, new boy Josh Crowley slotted in well and will only improve as he beds in. Mentions too for Samir Tahraoui and Jono Smith who caused endless panic in the stags defence, and James Tilley who pulled so many tackles we lost count.

Keighley, though pose an altogether more complex challenge: a hardworking, well-drilled side before you add Paul Handforth to the mix. Indeed, every time we've seen Keighley play Handforth has pulled the strings. It makes Sunday's Old Head v Young Gun contest with Danny Yates an intriguing prospect. See you there.