Thursday, 5 March 2020

Sunday's Coming: Keighley Cougars

At last. After what seems like an age, Hornets finally get  the 2020 League 1 season off the launch pad with a visit from the Cougars of Keighley.

MASSIVE: A huge badge with a
jersey sewn onto it.
As it's a new season, we're going to dive right in: what IS going own with their 2020 jersey? For us, it's up there with the worst we've ever seen (and we've seen a LOT). We can live with the dodgy pound-shop Marvel hero styling - but that badge?

It's not so much a bad jersey with a disproportionately large badge, more a ridiculously huge badge with a jersey stitched to the back of it. Keighley have a recent history of wearing somewhat 'interesting' shirt designs, but this one would have Stevie Wonder reeling. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should...

The Cougars' Betfred League One campaign began last week with a 24-6 defeat up at Workington Town - narrowly avoiding a nilling with a Jack Coventry try from close range in the last minute of the game. On the way their defeat, Keighley looked flaky up their left edge as Town debutant Elliot Hall bagged four tries on his debut.

Cougars' coach Rhys Lovegrove sees fixing-up that obvious hole as a priority. Speaking in the Keighley News he said: "Our left edge leaked four of our five tries against Workington and that's the side that have not played since Sheffield (in pre-season)."

He's also go to contend with losing prop Dalton Desmond-Walker who broke his hand at Derwent Park.

The defeat at Workington came after Keighley were nudged out of the Challenge Cup in the third round, courtesy of a '... bad-tempered...' 16-12 home defeat to big-spending Newcastle Thunder. Having said that standards have slipped since their unbeaten pre-season programme, Lovegrove said this week that "... it's time for us to step up on Sunday."

Looking down the Cougars squad, it's not short on experience and ability. Out wide former Oldham wing Mo Agoro is partnered by former Melbourne, Gold Coast Titans, Hull KR, Castleford and Bradford centre Jake Webster. That's experience that going to boost any side.

Loverove's squad also includes Kyle Kesik (signed pre-season after 10 years at Doncaster), the indestructable Richie Hawkyard and former Hornets' Foundation Back Onside coach Will Cooke.

32 year-old Lovegrove has had an interesting journey to Keighley. Hailing from the Shire south of Sydney, he played rep footy for  the Australian Schoolboys Team in 2004 and came through the system at St George-Illawarra Dragons. He joined Hull KR on a short-term deal in 2007 - a deal that ended up taking in 159 games over seven years! He went on to play 20 games for London Broncos, before an ill-fated move to Bradford saw his career cut short by injury.

He cut his coaching teeth on the staff at Bradford and Doncaster, moving to Keighley as assistant coach 14 months ago. He was appointed as head coach last summer after the sacking of Craig Lingard.

In what has felt like a disjointed start to the year, Hornets seem to be trucking on pretty well. What is clear is that the current iteration has points in it - and this can only be helped by the addition of Martyn Ridyard. Riddy is a goal-kicking half back with a ten year career that includes 250 games for Leigh plus stints at Huddersfield and Featherstone. Pretty exciting, we think.

Hornets have also taken Leigh wing Brad Holroyd to cover one of the edges.The former Lancashire and England Lions under 19s rep scored on his Centurions debut in their 1895 Cup win over Workington and looks a useful prospect.

As always, we urge all Hornets fans to get there on Sunday and show your support in this new era.  Let's start the season with a bang. See you there.

The game is live on the #OuRLeague app. from 2:45pm!

If you haven't signed up, do it today, choosing the Rochdale Hornets as your team, by going to - the number of fans we have registered with the app dictates how much extra funding we get from the RFL.