WORKINGTON TOWN v KEIGHLEY COUGARS
BETFRED LEAGUE 1 PLAY-OFF SEMI-FINAL
SUNDAY 26TH SEPTEMBER 2021 – 2PM KICK OFF
DERWENT PARK – WORKINGTON
REFEREE – MR MARCUS GRIFFITHS (WORKINGTON)
LAST TIME OUT:
The Keighley Cougars earned their place in this weekend’s semi-final with a 14-28 victory away at the North Wales Crusaders in the qualifying play-off.
After a physical start to the encounter, the Cougars would race into a 14-0 lead.
Jake Webster opened the scoring as he burrowed his way over from close range on the back of a dummy half play.
The visitors would extend their lead as a grubber in goal from Scott Murrell was grounded by the onrushing Jack Miller.
The boot of Miller would extend that lead further after the Crusaders were penalised for offside near to the line.
But North Wales found a way back into the game shortly before the interval as Brad Billsborough touched down his own kick after it deflected back of a post protector.
The Crusaders would then level the scoreboard through a Tommy Johnson penalty and Patrick Ah Van try following the sin binning of Jack Arnold early in the second half.
However, the Cougars would regroup and push onto victory with the kickstart coming through a penalty conversion from Miller.
With tension in the air, they were eased by Brenden Santi as the forward scored two late tries after powering over before being the beneficiary of a superb inside ball from Webster.
Workington Town brought the curtain down on their regular season with a 14-32 home defeat at the hands of Hunslet.
In an end-to-end first half, Workington managed to take a two-point lead into the interval.
Brad Holroyd opened the scoring for the hosts after Simon Brown was sent to the sin bin for Hunslet.
Hunslet would level in similar circumstances shortly after as Mikey Wood found a way over after Gabe Fell was sent for ten for the hosts.
Joe Brown then crashed over for the home side, but they would fall behind after a score from Alex Rowe.
And ill-discipline from Hunslet saw them fall behind heading into the break as Brown finished off a team move to score.
The second half though would be all Hunslet, as the Parksiders scored twenty unanswered points to seal victory and the final spot in the play-offs.
Tries from Duane Straugheir and Reece Chapman-Smith completely turned the game on its head early into the half as the South Leeds outfit put Hunslet into the lead.
Workington’s ill-discipline would allow the boot of Dom Brambani to extend the advantage by four further points.
And then with ten minutes left on the clock, Lewis Young would wrap up the victory with a try.
Head Coach Rhys Lovegrove has made two changes to the squad that defeated the Crusaders last weekend.
He welcomes back Aaron Levy after the forward missed out on last week’s game through a one-game suspension.
Phoenix Laulu-Togaga’e also returns after the injury he picked up against Doncaster has turned out to not be as bad as originally feared.
Dropping out of the side is Jack Arnold, who has been handed a one-game suspension for Grade B Dangerous Contact.
Kieran Moran misses out on a place in the 21 from last week.
COUGARS: Agoro; Bailey; 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.
Workington Town Head Coach Chris Thorman has named a 20-man squad for Sunday’s visit of the Cougars.
He welcomes back Blair Marwood (Illness) and Hanley Dawson (Shin) to his side after the pair missed out on the defeat to Hunslet a fortnight ago.
Town though will be without Gabe Fell (Ankle) and Elliot Miller (Back) as they both continue their recoveries from injury.
Jordan O’Leary and Conor Fitzsimmons also miss out from the Town squad that played the Parksiders last time out.
Jordan Thomson, Stevie Scholey, and David Weetman are all long-term absentees for Thorman with the trio’s 2021 seasons are over prematurely.
TOWN: Barnes; Bickerdike; Brown; Clarke; Dawson; Doran; Forber; Henson; Holroyd; Hutchings; Lightowler; Marwood; Moore; O’Brien; O’Donnell; Olstrom; Singleton; Wellington; Wilson; Young.
VIEW FROM THE SHEDS:
KEIGHLEY COUGARS HEAD COACH RHYS LOVEGROVE: “It does have a psychological effect getting fourth instead of fifth, but it’s less about the extra chance, and more about the fact we could now get a Grand Final at home.
“We knew we’d have to come through some tough games to get top four, which we have, and it will continue to be hard from here too.
“North Wales are the best team in the division for me, just because of their consistency.
“Going away and trying to win there was tough, but even though now we have done that, we have to win at Workington, another hard place to go, to get that Grand Final at home.
“But it’s a great opportunity for us to go and do that now.”
Rhys Lovegrove quotes courtesy of the Keighley News
WORKINGTON TOWN HEAD COACH CHRIS THORMAN: “It’s been frustrating dealing with the Covid.
“But over the next few weeks all our attention will be on performing and training and performing on the Sunday.”
Chris Thorman quotes courtesy of Cumbria Crack.
THE LAST TIME WE MET:
This is the third meeting between the two sides, the previous encounter coming in West Yorkshire back in early August.
On that day, the Keighley Cougars fell to a 18-22 home defeat at the hands of Workington Town at Cougar Park.
On a wet and miserable afternoon, the Cumbrian outfit cemented themselves in second position with a hard-fought win over their hosts.
The Cougars took an early 10-0 lead with tries in the game’s opening quarter through Mo Agoro and Josh Slingsby.
The first half would end with both sides exchanging possession with Workington scoring just before the interval as Joe Brown touched down Calvin Wellington’s flick back from a Jamie Doran kick.
Keighley then became their own worst enemies in the second half as penalties and errors allowed Town to turn the game on its head and take the lead.
Despite a Jack Miller penalty conversion moving Cougars a converted try in front, tries from Matty Henson and Jake Moore put the visitors into the lead for the first time on the afternoon.
Con Mika powered his way over to put Rhys Lovegrove’s side back in front but a try late on from Brad Holroyd made sure that Workington would return home victorious.
Tickets for Sunday’s game at Derwent Park are on sale NOW and available to buy online.
With a big four figure crowd expected at Workington this Sunday afternoon, it is recommended by both clubs to purchase your tickets in advance of travelling this weekend.
Tickets purchased online in advance of the day are priced at £13.50 for Adults, £8.50 for Concessions, and £1.50 for Juniors.
Tickets purchased on the day upon arrival at Derwent Park are priced at £15 for Adults, £10 for Concessions, and £3 for Juniors.
The supporters’ buses however are now SOLD OUT with four full coaches making the journey north to Cumbria on Sunday.
To purchase your tickets in advance of arriving on Sunday, please click HERE
By Joshua Chapman