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Paul March backs Keighley Cougars to stay safe
Paul March insists he has full confidence in his side’s ability to beat the drop as the Cougars head to Barrow for a final-day survival battle.
March’s men lie fifth-bottom (on 32 points) heading into Sunday’s clash but only two points above the dreaded drop zone.
Victory would ensure survival but defeat by more than 12 points – denying them a bonus point – would see the second-bottom Cumbrians (30 points) leapfrog Keighley and leave them sweating on results elsewhere.
Third-bottom Hunslet (30) host high-flying Featherstone, while fourth-bottom Swinton (31) head to Whitehaven.
Bottom-placed York’s outside hope of still being in the mix disappeared with a midweek defeat at Doncaster in their game in hand.
Player-coach March, who takes a strong squad to Craven Park, declared: “It’s always been in our hands to stay up and if we pick up a win then we are safe.
“We’ve had the chance to do that against Featherstone and Halifax and now this weekend, so it’s still in our hands.
“Everyone else has got to win to overtake us, so we’ll go to Barrow well prepared and show what we can do.”
March has endured a baptism of fire in his first year in the Cougar Park hot-seat but has never wavered from his belief that his side can stay up.
The Cougars have collected precious bonus points during recent defeats to Workington and Featherstone and March is confident they can complete the job.
“The fans have seen us show a lot of pride and commitment to the shirt in the last few weeks,” he said.
“Am I concerned about the position we’re in? No, you’ve got to back your own ability as a sportsman and we’ve tried to do that all year.
“We’ve got to do that this weekend now and make sure we come away with some points.
“They’ve got some quality players at Barrow, with the likes of Liam Harrison and Liam Campbell, but we’ve just got to concentrate on how we perform on the day.
“If we turn the ball over like we have in the last couple of games, then we’re not going to be in the game. But if we complete our sets and have good finishes to our sets, we’ll compete.”
March has re-signed a number of players for next year, including several promising youngsters, and recruited Halifax half-back Paul Handforth in a notable coup.
The player-boss said: “It’s a massive boost. We’ve turned around 36 players this year and I know a few of them have left and a few have come in but the likes of Josh Lynam, Sean Kelly and Ryan Patchett have come in and performed, while Matty Bailey has been a revelation since his comeback.
“I’m pleased with all the youngsters and I’m glad they’ve committed themselves to the club.
“It’s now up to everyone to perform against Barrow because we’re effectively playing for our livelihoods and our contracts that we’ve all signed.”
March said there was no further signings imminent but added: “We’re still fighting to be in this league but we’re always looking to add to the squad.
“We’re talking to a couple of people but nothing’s in black and white yet. After this weekend, when we hopefully ensure our survival, we’ll be able to turn them into black and white.”