Keighley Cougars three points off drop zone after Batley win appeal

Paul March's Cougars are now just three points off the relegation zone after Batley's reprieve

Paul March's Cougars are now just three points off the relegation zone after Batley's reprieve

First published in Sport
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A BONUS point might not be enough for Keighley Cougars to clinch their Championship survival on Sunday after Batley won their appeal against a points deduction imposed by the Rugby Football League.

Cougars only required one point at Dewsbury Rams to guarantee safety before today's verdict but the decision to overturn the deduction saw Bulldogs climb out of the relegation zone into ninth spot, three points behind eighth-placed Keighley.

Whitehaven are level on points with Batley but drop into the bottom five due to a worst points difference.

A win at Rams would all but guarantee safety for Cougars as they have a much better points difference than Whitehaven. But anything less could leave them needing something from their final game at home to Featherstone.

Batley - given a reprieve along with fourth-placed Doncaster, whose points were also returned - entertain already-relegated Swinton on Sunday, while Whitehaven host Rochdale, who are also already down.

Batley and Doncaster were both docked three points by an independent tribunal of the RFL a fortnight ago after being found guilty of fielding ineligible Super League players during matches on July 27.

The clubs were found to have breached the RFL's operational rules in playing Super League duo Jacob Fairbank (Huddersfield) and Ben Crooks (Hull) respectively on dual registration after the Championship transfer deadline had passed.

The RFL say the appeals tribunal overturned the points deductions after being presented with fresh evidence relating to previous historical breaches of operational rules by other clubs which had not faced similar sanctions.

An RFL spokesman said: "The RFL accepts the decision of the independent appeals tribunal and has re-instated the points deducted from both clubs.

"The new evidence provided to today's tribunal will be considered as part of the ongoing review into the operational rules relating to dual-registration that will be completed in time for the start of the 2015 season."

Doncaster chief executive Carl Hall said: "I have always been confident that the club had strong grounds for an appeal. I was surprised with the initial outcome of the hearing and therefore pleased that justice and common sense have prevailed on this occasion."

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