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Cougars Hit The Road For Tough Test – Doncaster Preview

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Doncaster RL v Keighley Cougars Match Preview by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)

Date: Sunday 10th June

Time: 3:00pm

Venue: Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster

After just squeezing past London Skolars to secure an ugly win last time out, the Cougars return from a fortnight’s break with a trip to South Yorkshire for a play-off hunt showdown with out of sorts Doncaster RL.

LAST TIME OUT:

Doncaster fell to a third defeat in four games as they went down 32-12 on the road against the Oldham Roughyeds. The Dons were never really in the game at Whitebank and after a 16-0 half-time defecit turned into a 26-0 reverse scoreline early in the second-half, the Doncaster scores through Brandan Wilkinson and Jason Tali were to prove nothing more than mere consolations on the afternoon for Richard Horne’s side.

The Cougars made hard work of a 26-18 hme victory over London Skolars at Cougar Park. A mixed performance saw the Cougars trail throughout until a Perry Whiteley try midway through the second half depsite earlier efforts from Adam Ryder, Andy Gabriel and Brad Nicholson. A further Gabriel effort pulled Keighley ahead once more before they wrapped up the two points late on through two Matty Beharrell penalty conversions.

TEAM NEWS:

Doncaster Head Coach Richard Horne loses dual registration half-back Liam Harris following last week’s defeat across the pennines with Harris featuring for parent club Hull FC in their victory over Salford on Friday evening in the Super League. Jack Downs and Jez Litten have also returned to the KCom Stadium with Ross Osborne, Brad England and Liam Welham coming into the side ahead of tomorrow’s Yorkshire derby. Frankie Mariano is still sidelined through injury.

Cougars Head Coach Craig Lingard welcomes back Darrell Griffin (Quad) from the injury that kept him out of the victory over London Skolars a fortnight ago and also welcomes Harry Aaronson back from international duty into the 19 man squad. Benn Hardcastle (Concussion) has been medically cleared to play afte rmissing the London win with captain Josh Tonks (Back) joining Josh Lynam (Arm) and Emmerson Whittel (Knee) on the treatment table.

KEY BATTLE:

With the loss of Liam Harris back to parent club Hull FC, the Dons will opt for their 2017 half-back pairing of Jordan Howden and Jordie Hedges who caused the Cougars problems in both the meetings during the last campaign. It will provide an interesting on-field battle and challenge for the resurgent Matty Beharrell and his partner, the returning Benn Hardcastle, come 3pm at the Keepmoat Stadium.

THE SQUADS:

DONCASTER: Bienek, Bower, Boyle, Cross, Doherty, England, Hedges, Howden, Kesik, Lane, Martin, Muranka, Osborne, Owen, Sanderson, Spiers, Tali, Welham, Wilkinson.

COUGARS: Aaronson, Bailey, Beharrell, Conroy, Dixon, Emmett, Gabriel, Griffin, Hallas, Hardcastle, Hawkyard, Law, Leeming, Nicholson, Parker, Rawlins, Ryder, Whiteley, Wright.

THE COACHES:

Doncaster RL Head Coach Richard Horne: “It’s a huge game, there are a few teams all sat on the same points total and we want to keep in touch with the teams above us.

“We speak a lot about the performance but given how the past couple of games have gone, we really need to get the two points and have that winning feeling again.

“Confidence grows with winning and the message to the boys is to find a way to win, they have to win the energy battles.

“We’re not panicking because I can see their efforts on the training ground are good, they are working hard to improve and we’re not too far off.”

Keighley Cougars Head Coach Craig Lingard: “We’ve won three on the bounce and they’ve lost two in a row. We may have more confidence, although that means nothing unless you perform well.

“They’ve also been affected by the injury crisis at Hull, who have dual registration with Doncaster.

“They’ve recalled Hakim Miloudi, and Liam Harris, who played for Doncaster last week at Oldham, and both went back to Hull for Friday’s Super League game.

“We might have to take that into consideration, but we won’t know until 48 hours before kick-off. We just have to play the team that’s put in front of us.”

THE REFEREE:

The man in the middle for Sunday’s Betfred League One Round 12 meeting at the Keepmoat Stadium is Greg Dolan from Batley. Dolan refereed the Cougars on two occasions in 2017, officiating the defeat away at Doncaster during the League One regular season before overseeing the Super Eights away defeat to Whitehaven in August.

SUMMARY:

With both sides amongst the group of five currently locked on 14 points in the Betfred League One play-off race, neither side will want to be on the end of a defeat in this mid-season clash in South Yorkshire. The Cougars come in on 3 consecutive wins with Doncaster on the back of their first dip in form this season. Despite losing a number of Hull FC players, the Dons still pose an extremely serious threat to Linners and his side, even more so as they look to head into their run of four consecutive away games with a victory over the Cougars.

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