Paul Handforth targets six of the best for Keighley Cougars

Paul Handforth, right, is relishing his time at Cougars after moving from Halifax

Paul Handforth, right, is relishing his time at Cougars after moving from Halifax

First published in Sport by

Paul Handforth is intent on a sixth straight victory for Keighley when his former club Halifax arrive at Cougar Park on Sunday.

Paul March’s men are enjoying a remarkable run of form which has fired them into the Challenge Cup quarter-finals and the top six of the Kingstone Press Championship.

The 32-year-old half-back joined Cougars from Halifax during the off-season, and his partnership with Danny Jones has proved key to the club’s success.

Handforth, nicknamed ‘Tiger’, is keen that his side do not suffer distraction this weekend ahead of their trip to Widnes in the Chall-enge Cup next Thursday.

He said: “It’s been great fun so far this season. They’re a great bunch of lads and we’re all good mates.

“We’re enjoying playing together and I think you’re seeing that out on the field with us winning five from five.

“I had two years at Halifax and we won the Northern Rail Cup and had some good times.

“You obviously move on but I’ve got a lot of friends still at the club and I hope they do well – but not this week.

“Next Thursday at Widnes will be great but the bread and butter of the league is what we get paid for.”

Karl Harrison’s men have been uncharacteristically inconsistent this season and last weekend’s defeat at Dewsbury was their fifth league reverse of the season.

In contrast, Cougars beat Barrow 27-18, and Handforth added: “This league that we are in, anybody can beat anybody. Apart from Leigh, who have won every game, it’s pretty tight points-wise.

“You know that you need to keep on winning to stay away from the dreaded bottom five who will go down.”

On his blossoming partnership with Jones, Handforth explained: “Playing with Danny has been great and we clicked straight away.

“I’ve played with a number of half-backs in my career and sometimes you don’t click at all.

“Fortunately for us, we complement each other’s style of play.”

Handforth plays scrum half and Jones stand-off, with their pairing giving Cougars a potent and experienced combination.

“Danny was playing with young Scott Leatherbarrow last year and I think me coming to the club has maybe taken some pressure off him,” said Handforth.

“When you play with a young half-back you’ve got to take more responsibility, whereas Danny and I are both experienced and we share that responsibility now.

“It allows you to concentrate on your own game rather than worrying about others.”

Danny Lawton earned a place in the Championship Team of the Week after his two-try display against Barrow. The match also saw Jones reach 200 career appearances.

Meanwhile, former Cougars assistant coach Glen Barraclough has been appointed as head coach of Pennine League Premier Division outfit West Bowling for next season.

Cougars Under-20s lost 36-18 at home to Featherstone Rovers last Thursday.

Joe Brier (2), Andy Gabriel and Sean Kelly touched down and half-back Ben Stead kicked their only goal.

They were due to play Leigh Centurions away last night.

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