Friday, 5 August 2016

Sunday's Coming: Keighley Cougars

Sunday sees Keighley Cougars make the trip to Spotlans - and it seems that everyone at Lawkholme Lane is feeling the pressure.

According to the Keighley News, Cougars coach Paul March was left ‘bitterly frustrated’ after last week’s home defeat to Hunslet (whose members vote next month to remove the ‘Hawks’ soubriquet from their official name).

Keighley’s Bradford loanee Jonny Walker was equally disappointed with the result: ““Losing to Hunslet last weekend was obviously very disappointing and I think we took them for granted.” he said.

Consolation Prize? Seems silverware doesn't prevent
you getting your Marching Orders.
It was the Cougars’ second successive defeat in the Super 8s, seeing them slip further off the pace. Which isn’t good news for March, who was recently put on notice by chairman chairman Gary Fawcett that failure to win promotion would see him summarily sacked.

Fawcett said (in the Bradford Teleghraph and Argus last month): "While we are hopeful that a turnaround will happen over the course of the remaining games, we have to be realistic and plan for the future.

"The club operates on principles, which includes honouring contracts. We are not a Premiership football club which hires and fires at will, racking up substantial contract termination costs. Given our financials, we have to be circumspect and, more importantly, treat people with dignity.

"Make no mistake, though. Failure to achieve promotion will require us to appoint a new head coach, who we feel can do the job for 2017, and I have no doubt that there will be plenty of interest in the role. Applications will probably start to arrive at Cougar Park after this press release." A bit naughty, we think.

Perversely, the threat of having their coach sacked seems to have impacted on the team. Cougars’ centre Charlie Martin spoke this week of the effect it’s had.

“… we’re not going to write the season off , because the main goal is to win promotion and save Marchy’s job” he said. “He’s not just a head coach but he’s also a good mate of everyone. We have played with him before and I don’t think people realise how difficult it is to go from being a player to being a coach.

“For me, what the club said about needing to go up for Marchy to keep his job, has heaped added pressure on us.” So an excellent job done there.

Ahead of Sunday’s game Ash Lindsay will undergo a head test and Charlie Martin is a doubt with a finger injury. Forwards Brendon Rawlins and Scott Law will also be monitored in training this week.

Hornets come into Sunday’s game on the back of a hard-fought win at London Skolars. After a lightning first half, injuries reshuffles and the lack of a half-back pairing took their toll, and two late tries gave the game the veneer of a contest. What did impress was that the Hornets pack stood-up well against much bigger counterparts, and scrum half Danny Yates played his best game in Hornets’ colours with a dominant, controlling performance.

Both of which we’ll need in spades against an increasingly desperate Keighley Cougars. As we’ve seen thus far, there are no easy games in this new format - but it does promise to be an afternoon of intense competition. See you there.