Keighley Cougars coach Paul March says that he’s expecting a strong response from his players on Saturday afternoon as they bid to become the first side in 2016 to lift silverware.
The Cougars face York in the final of the iPro Sport Cup, which will be the first game of the 2016 Summer Bash event.
However, Keighley head to Blackpool on the back of a disappointing defeat to London Skolars last week – but March is hopeful that the setback in the capital will be one which gives them fresh impetus heading into Saturday’s clash against York.
Commenting on the defeat at London, coach Paul March said: “It was disappointing how we played but credit to them, they took their opportunities, had a game plan and obviously it worked for them. For us it was about putting down a marker for Saturday, individually and as a team. I think some individuals let themselves down and ultimately that will cost them a place in the 17 for Saturday.
“What we need to do is look at what we did, and it’s all about reactions now. We can lay down and give a performance like we did on Saturday at London or we can react in a positive way and give a good account of ourselves against York.
“Looking at the squads, it’s going to be a difficult game between two well-matched sides. They certainly put a performance in on Friday after their disappointing game against Barrow the week before. They came out with a reaction and that’s what I’m hoping my boys will do this week.”
In stark contrast, York will be going into the final full of confidence after their impressive 36-4 victory at Newcastle Thunder. Knights coach James Ford said: “I was really pleased, I saw a lot of positive signs. Our defensive effort was great. We kicked the ball a lot better and worked really hard for one another. They were the qualities that were outstanding to me at the start of the season so it was pleasing to see them in abundance up in Newcastle.
“Newcastle are a good team and have scored some points against other teams so to limit them to one try was a good achievement. In previous weeks we’re probably not been quite on the pulse in taking opportunities when they have arisen but this week we were and that was really pleasing.”
For Ford and his players, the game at Blackpool on Saturday is something special. “I think it’s pretty clichéd for coaches to say it’s just a another game but it’s not; it’s a final,” he said.
“The players have worked really hard to get there and they deserve the opportunity to compete for that trophy. We’re all excited, the players and the coaches, but when it comes to game day we’ll just focus on the little things in our performance that has seen us be pretty successful thus far.
“Keighley have got some good players and their pride will be dented after last week’s defeat. We shouldn’t take too much away from London Skolars, they are a good team, and they’ve got some good players. Every side that goes there will have their hands full. They tested us at our place and I’m thankful we didn’t have to play them away.
“Keighley will want to respond this week and if they beat us, then last week’s performance against London will be forgotten.”