Big incentive for Keighley Cougars to tame Swinton Lions

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: James Haley, left, is responding well to treatment on his injured back but a late decision will be made on his fitness for Saturday James Haley, left, is responding well to treatment on his injured back but a late decision will be made on his fitness for Saturday

Cougars player-coach Paul March says his side are quietly confident they can overcome Swinton Lions and move into the Tetley’s Challenge Cup quarter-finals this weekend.

Cougars head to Leigh Sports Village on Saturday (3pm) for the fifth-round tie as they bid to negotiate a way past their Kingstone Press Championship rivals.

Swinton lie four places below March’s eighth-placed side in the table and he believes his men can make their class pay.

He said: “The chairman (Gary Fawcett) has already said he would have liked a better draw but we’ve got to go to Swinton now and make sure we put in a performance.

“If we play to the best of our ability then we will be in the hat for the next round, then after that who knows?

“One of the big boys could be calling in the last eight and I think you’ve got to be confident in every game you go into.

“With the personnel we have, we can match anybody. We’ll see who’s fit at training this week and then pick a team we feel can beat Swinton.

“Our number one goal is to be in the hat for the next round and that’s what we’re going to stick to.”

March’s opposite number – Swinton player-coach Ian Watson – is equally upbeat about the meeting with their Championship rivals.

He said: “It’s a massive game, absolutely huge, not only for the players on a personal note as an experience, but massive for the club as well.

“The prestige of getting to the quarter-finals and possibly getting that big Super League club, as well as the prize-money, it’s all huge for the club.”

Elliott Cosgrove will miss Saturday’s game after suffering a suspected fractured eye socket in the defeat against Featherstone on Good Friday.

March confirmed yesterday that there was still too much swelling around the injury and that the player was experiencing blurred vision.

He reported better news on James Haley, who is responding well to treatment on his injured back.

However, with Daley Williams available, March said Haley would only feature if he is 100 per cent.

Prop Andy Shickell remains two weeks away, with his leg currently in a lightweight cast following his stress fracture, while skipper James Feather is back running in training but it will be another two to three weeks before he is back.

March, meanwhile, admitted his side were outclassed by high-flying Championship rivals Featherstone.

Cougars lost 36-12 at the Big Fellas Stadium after being blitzed by John Bastian’s team during the first half.

Rovers scored four tries in 14 minutes to put the game well and truly beyond Cougars.

March added: “I thought we started off all right, set for set, but to concede four tries in quick succession put us under the cosh and we were always on the back foot trying to get back into the game.

“But I thought we showed some character in the second half. We have to be ending our sets better than we did.

“If we do that then we can compete. If not then obviously we are going to be put the sword like we were at Featherstone.”

March paid tribute to the performance of Jack Lee after the hooker came off the bench to make his presence felt at Featherstone.

Lee joined Cougars from Rovers during the off-season and March added: “Jack lifted us a bit and is a front-foot player.

“When we are winning the rucks he can make his mark but we were largely controlled in that area by Featherstone.

“They did a job on us by getting numbers in the tackle and didn’t allow us to play.”

Under-20s captain Tom Courtney, meanwhile, is recovering from a horror injury sustained at Halifax last Wednesday during the opening quarter of the match.

Courtney suffered a dislocation to his ankle and broke a small bone in his leg, which was due to be operated on once the swelling has reduced on the injured area.

March added: “Tom dislocated his ankle and broke a little bone in his leg – I was at the game and it was an horrific injury.

“He is going to have an operation and be out for between three and four months.”

Cougars lost the match 32-30 and scored tries through Luke Robinson, Louis Hobbs, Chris Watson, Chris Unsworth and Sean Kelly.

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