KEIGHLEY COUGARS v NORTH WALES CRUSADERS – BETFRED LEAGUE 1 ROUND SEVENTEEN
SUNDAY 5TH SEPTEMBER 2021 – 3PM KICK OFF
COUGAR PARK – KEIGHLEY
REFEREE – MR LIAM STAVELEY (BRADFORD)
LAST TIME OUT:
Keighley Cougars made it three consecutive victories as they eased past the West Wales Raiders, winning 12-42 in Llanelli.
The Cougars took an early two try lead through Jack Miller and Josh Slingsby, and in the process would see a further three tries disallowed by the officials for forward passes and handling errors.
The Raiders though would get back into the game as Will Ramsey pounced on a dropped ball to dive home beneath the crossbar.
This would be a minor blip as QLT raced over from 50 metres out to put Keighley back on the front foot.
Jake Webster raced over shortly before the interval with Con Mika being placed on report by the officials.
The Cougars continued to press, and Miller proved the beneficiary as he scored his second try of the afternoon on the back of a line break from Webster.
They continued in a similar vein and scored once more as Josh Lynam raced onto a pass from Kyle Kesik.
With West Wales tiring, they continued to turn the screw as PLT managed to squeeze his way over in the corner.
The home side would score once more through Phil Cowburn, but dissent saw Ashley Bateman sin binned.
And on the back of the resulting penalty, Miller touched down his own grubber to complete his hat-trick and cap off the victory.
The division’s most in form side, the North Wales Crusaders recorded an eighth consecutive victory as they defeated the Rochdale Hornets 36-10 in Colwyn Bay.
In truth, the Crusaders started the game poorly and fell behind as Rangi Chase scored but a red card to Shaun Robinson would allow the home side to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
The dismissal allowed North Wales to score twenty unanswered points to take a comfortable lead into the half-time interval.
Alex Eckley first crashed over with Tommy Johnson following it up with a try and penalty conversion of his own.
And then just before the hooter sounded, Patrick Ah Van dived over in the corner to put the home side out of sight.
North Wales extended their lead further just after the interval as Matt Reid scored but Rochdale gave themselves a glimmer of hope through Lewis Sheridan.
A glimmer would be all it was as the Crusaders restored their twenty-point advantage shortly after as Jordan Gibson broke the line to dive over.
Ill-discipline from Rochdale would allow Johnson to score his second try to cap off the victory before Chase saw his afternoon ended early as he was placed in the sin-bin by the officials.
Head Coach Rhys Lovegrove has made four changes from the side that defeated the West Wales Raiders last weekend.
Dan Parker (Back) and Brenden Santi (Shoulder) both return from the injuries that ruled them out of the trip to Llanelli last time out.
Taylor Prell returns after being rested with Ryan Wright also included once again following his wedding last Friday.
Dropping out of the side are Jason Muranka, who played against the Raiders, with Jack Arnold, Robert Matamosi, and Morgan Robinson also missing out.
Matthew Bailey will make his 150th career appearance if he plays against the Crusaders on Sunday.
COUGARS: Bailey; Coventry; Desmond-Walker; Feather; Gaylor; Graham; Kesik; P Laulu-Togaga’e; Q Laulu-Togaga’e; Levy; Lynam; Mika; Miller; Murrell; Parker; Prell; Santi; Slingsby; Stephenson; Webster; Wright.
North Wales Crusaders Head Coach Anthony Murray has named an 18-man squad ahead of the journey north to face the Cougars.
Warren Thompson returns to the side after missing out on last week’s victory against the Rochdale Hornets.
Patrick Ah Van misses out from the side that defeated the Hornets but there is a recall to the side for Dante Morley-Samuels.
The Bradford Bulls loan trio of Ethan O’Hanlon, Matthew Race, and Cameron Berry have all been recalled by the Odsal club and named in their squad to face Toulouse on Sunday.
Long serving full-back Tommy Johnson requires just 18 points to reach 1,500 in the colours of the Colwyn Bay outfit.
CRUSADERS: Ashall; Ball; Barratt; Billsborough; Brennan; Davies; Eccleston; Eckley; Gibson; Hazzard; Holmes; Houghton; Johnson; Kelly; Massam; Morley-Samuels; Morris; Reid; Rodden; Thompson.
VIEW FROM THE SHEDS:
KEIGHLEY COUGARS HEAD COACH RHYS LOVEGROVE: “Everything is huge now and we’ve got to continue building towards these games.
“There are a few things that we still need to work on as they aren’t ready yet, especially for games such as this one against North Wales.
“It is really important also that we’ve got key players back as we’ve got to peak in these final two games and then the play-offs.
“What I don’t want to happen is we do stuff outside of the processes and we build into the system and into this run in we are now facing.
“It is all about the performance and the result now in both this fixture and next week’s trip to Doncaster.”
Rhys Lovegrove quotes courtesy of Joshua Chapman
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS HALFBACK JORDAN GIBSON: “I think it’s mainly hard work to be honest and working for each other in training.
“After the Doncaster game, we all knew we had to do something to rectify that.
“We’ve all been really digging in for each other and the buzz around the club at the minute is brilliant.
“We’ve got a great set of lads and coaching staff here and it’s just a really positive place to be.
“Everyone can see how our performances have improved and it’s important we play like that every week because anybody can beat anybody in this league.
“We certainly can’t take anything for granted and we need to make sure we’re at 100 per cent every game.”
Jordan Gibson quotes courtesy of the North Wales Crusaders
THE LAST TIME WE MET:
The reverse fixture between the two sides in Colwyn Bay back in early July was arguably one of the games of the season in Betfred League One.
A game that ebbed and flowed, saw comebacks, collapses, and everything in between as the Crusaders took a 34-28 victory on the afternoon.
It appeared as if North Wales were going to ease their way to victory as they raced into a 26-0 lead inside the game’s opening quarter.
Brad Billsborough opened the scoring early on the back of a handling error, and from there the Crusaders would turn the screw.
Further tries quickly followed as Gav Rodden, Rob Massam, and a double salvo from Tommy Johnson, saw the Cougars in disarray as North Wales began to run riot.
However, the momentum of the game then switched, and Keighley replied with 28 unanswered points of their own to not only comeback into the contest but take the lead.
Two tries before the half-time interval presented a foundation to build on as both Charlie Graham and Aaron Levy found ways over the line before the sound of the hooter.
They began the second half in similar vein and registered a further three scores without reply from their hosts.
Levy scored a second on the back of great work from Scott Murrell with Murrell himself crossing on the back of a 40-yard break before Brenden Santi powered his way over.
With those in attendance stunned by what they had witnessed, the visitors threw the game away with their own ill-discipline.
Two quickfire penalties were both punished by the boot of Johnson before they sealed the win in the final minute as Patrick Ah Van dived over in the corner.
Tickets are still on sale for Sunday’s Family Fun Day game at Cougar Park as we welcome the North Wales Crusaders to West Yorkshire.
You can still purchase a ticket in advance of attending Cougar Park on Sunday, with a pay on the day option also available for supporters yet to purchase their tickets.
Family tickets must be bought upon arrival at the ground this Sunday.
To purchase tickets for Sunday’s game, please click HERE
By Joshua Chapman