KEIGHLEY COUGARS v DONCASTER RL – BETFRED LEAGUE 1 ROUND ONE
SUNDAY 9th MAY 2021 – 3PM KICK OFF
COUGAR PARK – KEIGHLEY
REFEREE – MR JOHN McMULLEN (WIGAN)
LAST TIME OUT:
The Keighley Cougars return to action after a fortnight off following the 52-4 pre-season friendly victory over the Coventry Bears at Cougar Park.
In truth, the Cougars had the game wrapped up by half-time after a dominating opening twenty minutes that blew Coventry off the park.
Five tries inside the first 19 minutes from Ben Stead, Brenden Santi, Jack Miller, and a brace from Mo Agoro, put Rhys Lovegrove’s side into a commanding position.
Further tries from Alfie Seeley, Jake Webster, Miller, and two scores from Josh Slingsby, added a bit of gloss to the scoreboard with Coventry touching down for their only points of the afternoon through Reece Rance.
Sunday’s game will be the first time that Doncaster RL take to the field since a 50-10 home victory over the West Wales Raiders in March of last year.
The Dons had a comfortable afternoon at the office at the Keepmoat, racing in to a 50-point lead prior to taking their foot of the gas and allow West Wales Raiders to score two consolation efforts.
On an afternoon in which Richard Horne’s side crossed for nine tries, Sam Doherty was the star of the show as he crossed for five tries that saw him finish the curtailed season as the League One top try scorer.
Ross Peltier also crossed for a brace with captain Brad Foster and hooker Kieran Cross completing the scores for the home side before now Cougar Robert Matamosi and Emosi Nadaubale scored for West Wales.
Head Coach Rhys Lovegrove is expected to hand out three competitive debuts this Sunday afternoon.
Scott Murrell, QLT, and Zach Braham, are all named in the side after missing out March’s Betfred Challenge Cup defeat to the London Broncos.
There is also a first inclusion in a 21-man squad this season for Jake Webster and Dan Hawksworth, who also missed out on the trip to the capital two months ago.
Taylor Prell is unavailable for selection, meaning he joins Wellington Albert (Ankle), Alix Stephenson (Leg), and Morgan Robinson (Concussion) on the sidelines.
COUGARS: Agoro; Arnold; Bailey; Braham; Coventry; Graham; Hawksworth; Kesik; Q Laulu-Togaga’e; Levy; Lynam; Miller; Moran; Muranka; Murrell; Parker; Santi; Seeley; Stead; Webster; Wright.
Richard Horne could give as many as six of his off-season recruits their Doncaster debuts at Cougar Park on Sunday.
Misi Taulapapa, Ben Johnston, Liam Johnson, Anesu Mudoti, Ross Whitmore, and Aaron York, have all been named in Horne’s squad for the trip to West Yorkshire.
Watson Boas is available for selection, and is included in the named side, after arriving back in the United Kingdom last week following a loan spell at the PNG Hunters in Australia’s Queensland Cup at the beginning of this year.
Former Cougars trio Matty Beharrell, Ross Peltier, and Aaron Ollett-Hobson are all included in the Don’s 21-man squad.
DONCASTER: Beharrell; Boas; Boyle; Cross; Dixon; Doherty; Douglas; Halliday; Holdstock; Johnson; Johnston; Mudoti; Ollett-Hobson; Peltier; Smeaton; Spiers; Tali; Taulapapa; Whitmore; Wilkinson; York.
WORDS FROM THE SHEDS:
KEIGHLEY COUGARS HEAD COACH RHYS LOVEGROVE: “Doncaster are a big club, who’ve kept themselves around the top of League 1 for the last few years with a good roster.
“They have a pretty good balance. League 1 is generally forward dominated but Doncaster play in more of a Super League style.
“They have a solid forward pack, with strength off the bench in Ross Peltier.
“There’s Matty Beharrell controlling the game for them in the halves, they’re strong in the centre and have pace out wide with the likes of Sam Doherty.
“They’ve just signed (experienced Samoan international) Misi Taulapapa too, who’s a great player.
“It’s too soon to make a call on how the result will affect the season.
“I think the first four to six weeks, teams will be a bit all over the place, so it’s more about the performance I want to see from my boys on Sunday.
“Hopefully, we can put in a good one and then show we can be there or thereabouts later on in the season.”
Rhys Lovegrove quotes courtesy of the Keighley News
DONCASTER RL HEAD COACH RICHARD HORNE: “We believe we can get over the line this season.
“We’ve had two semi-finals in the last two years and just to miss out is frustrating. Both of them probably came down to not having a big enough squad and relying a little bit too much on the dual registration system.
“When it came to that business end not having those players available on dual reg, and only having a small squad, caught up with us. We picked up some injuries and players played with some injuries they probably shouldn’t have but they held their hand up.
“Keighley have spent big money this year, with what Newcastle did in 2019 they’ve probably done this year in terms of the players they’ve brought in.
“Barrow are always going to be big and powerful. Rochdale have recruited really well also and Hunslet are always in and around there with us.
“There will be a lot of teams challenging. I thought North Wales were a progressing team and it’ll be interesting to see how they go again this year.
“It’s wide open for anybody to win the competition. We have to be at our best every week.”
Richard Horne quotes courtesy of the Doncaster Free Press
THE LAST TIME WE MET:
The last meeting between the two clubs in September 2019 saw the Dons ease their way to a 48-12 victory over the Cougars in the penultimate round of the regular League One season.
Doncaster were inspired on the day by a Rangi Chase, now with West Wales, masterclass that saw them fly into a 20-0 lead by the half-time interval.
After Tom Halliday and Brad Foster scored the home sides opening two tries, Chase began to turn on the style and showed glimpses of individual brilliance that saw him win the Super League Man of Steel award earlier in his career to set up both Jason Tali and Halliday just before the hooter sounded to bring an end to the first half.
Within two minutes of the second half getting underway a series of Keighley errors allowed Papua New Guinea international Watson Boas to capitalise and extend the Doncaster lead further.
The Cougars would then register their first points of the game as they capitalised on an error themselves with Billy Gaylor picking up a loose ball and racing 30 metres to dive over the whitewash.
The try settled Rhys Lovegrove’s side, and they got back into the arm wrestle until that man Chase popped up once more, linking up with full-back Jordan Howden as they combined to send Halliday racing in at the corner to complete his hat-trick of tries for the afternoon.
Jason Muranka crossed on his return to his former club to take the Cougars into double figures on the scoreboard, but Doncaster ran in three late tries to bulk the board and seal a comprehensive victory.
Ryan Boyle, Sam Doherty, and Connor Bower, all found their way over the line to touch down for Richard Horne’s side on an afternoon that firmly belonged to Rangi Chase.
Supporters can still purchase the OuRLeague stream for tomorrow’s game through the RFL and OuRLeague website.
The game is available to purchase at the price of £4.95 until midnight tomorrow, with the price then rising to £10 if purchased on the day.
To buy the stream for tomorrow’s game, please follow this link: https://www.rugby-league.com/livestream
By Joshua Chapman