Cougars will treat Hornets with respect

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Andy Shickell will be assessed after missing the Sheffield game – Picture: Charlie Perry Andy Shickell will be assessed after missing the Sheffield game – Picture: Charlie Perry

COUGARS performance director Paul Royston believes Sunday's home clash with struggling Rochdale is a great opportunity to move another step closer to Kingstone Press Championship safety.

Paul March's side claimed a highly impressive 29-16 win at Sheffield Eagles last weekend to move five points clear of the drop zone.

The result halted a streak of four straight defeats and kept the Cougars firmly on track for survival in the second tier ahead of a major restructure of the domestic game.

Royston, who has been largely responsible for directing team affairs during games while March serves his two-month stadium ban, is confident Keighley can again rise to the challenge.

"It's absolutely crucial that we stay up this season – there is no doubt about that," he said.

"We are still quite a way off the end of the season but already the focus is on that objective because of what is at stake.

"To go to Sheffield and win is a big confidence boost and it was important to get our season kick-started again after three defeats in the league.

"Hopefully this gets us going on another sequence and the great thing with last week was we did it away from home.

"Mentally, you would say it's nearly always harder to go away and get a result, especially against a team like Sheffield.

"They have been champions in the past two seasons, so we were delighted to get a win there and are now looking to carry that feel-good factor into this weekend's game."

Rochdale lie second bottom in the table and the Cougars will be confident of building on last week's win at Owlerton Stadium.

But Royston inststs they will be taking nothing for granted and said: "We can't be disrespectful to anyone and it's the old cliche of taking it one game at a time.

"To be fair, you would like to think on the back of beating Sheffield we can put on another good performance against Rochdale and carry that momentum forward again.

"Rochdale came up last season and are in more of a building process.

"With the restructuring of the game as it is, and every team fighting to finish in the top nine, they have had a tough start and have been struggling a little bit."

Prop Andy Shickell will be assessed after missing the Sheffield game with a niggle and Paul White also missed out.

But Royston said: "I don't see any major changes because it's a squad game and you've got to be able to rotate players as and when."

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