COUGARS performance director Paul Royston is expecting a significant improvement from his players in tomorrow’s home clash with Batley.

Paul March’s side slipped to a disappointing defeat at Whitehaven on Tuesday night and must now rouse themselves for the visit of the Bulldogs.

With the bottom five teams relegated from the Championship this season, Cougars cannot afford to rest easy in mid-table and defeat this weekend would see Batley leapfrog them.

Royston was left frustrated after Cougars let slip a lead in Tuesday’s match before conceding two tries, the second from ex-Bulls winger Shaun Ainscough, to lose 28-18.

Royston said: “We got a losing bonus point but we were good enough to win it on the night and went away from the gameplan in the second half.

“We’re very disappointed because it was close to our full-strength team.

“We stayed in the arm-wrestle well into the second half but then just didn’t stick to our structures and that cost us.

“Yet bonus points are crucial in this division and that’s what it was important to at least come away with something.

“It’s been a relatively tough sequence of games but we’ve got to get back into the winning habit again now – starting at home to Batley on Sunday.

“The players have accepted the fact they didn’t perform as well as they should have done on Tuesday night and we’ve got a chance to put it right this weekend.

“It has been a relatively tough sequence of games and we’ve got to get into the winning habit again.”

March recalled a number of key men on Tuesday but one of them – captain James Feather – picked up a knee injury at Whitehaven and will be assessed along with several other players.

Royston is wary of the threat posed by Batley, adding: “Over the years they have achieved a lot and we have plenty of respect for them.

“They are one of the standard bearers in the division, so we need to rise to the challenge and get back to where we were recently when we won five out of five.

“That’s the mentality we need to get back to because John Kear is a fantastic coach and will have his players revved up for it. We need to make sure we are up for it.”