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Two down and four to go as Keighley battle for promotion
Although he knows there are no easy games in SSE Yorkshire Division One, Keighley’s director of rugby Graeme Sheffield sees no reason why his team cannot win their remaining four matches this season.
With Pocklington (85 points) set to win the championship, third-placed Keighley (76) are in a three-way fight with Driffield (78) and Bridlington (76) for the sole play-off place, with Bridlington having a game in hand.
Sheffield’s team host sixth-placed Scarborough on Saturday, and after that they have a derby at North Ribblesdale (March 31) before hosting second-from-bottom Dinnington (April 14) and finishing their season off at Knottingley (April 21).
“It is like (head coach) Dave Lister said a few weeks ago. The season has boiled down to a mini-league of six matches, and we need to win them all,” said Sheffield.
“At the moment, it is two down and four to go. There are no easy games in this division but I see no reason why we cannot win all four of our remaining games.”
Sheffield expects Pocklington to win the division, and concedes that Driffield’s 104-0 home win over Castleford on March 3 has given them a leg-up in terms of points difference (they are on plus 281 compared to Keighley’s plus 220) He added, however: “Bonus-point wins would be nice for us, and that is our aim, but even if we win all four without bonus points then we are putting pressure on Driffield and Bridlington and we can take advantage if they slip up.”
For example, Sheffield is hoping that fifth-placed visitors York can upset Driffield’s apple cart this weekend, although he confesses: “I wish York were at home”.
Bridlington are at second-from-bottom Castleford and leaders Pocklington at basement club Dinnington but Sheffield is not expecting the scramble to avoid relegation to cause any shock results.
He said: “I think Castleford and Dinnington are pretty much resigned to their fate, so I expect this weekend’s matches to go to form.”
Scarborough have easily collected the most bonus points in the division (17), with Driffield (13) second and Keighley, Bridlington and Pontefact equal third on 11.
Sheffield said: “Scarborough are usually involved in tight matches and their defence is good. They don’t win by many but they don’t lose by many either so we are expecting a tough game.
“But we beat them away from home (13-10 on November 12) so we are expecting to beat them at home.”
Keighley (home to Scarborough): D McGee; A Horsfall, D Price, M Ferrazzano, S Walker; A Brown, L Uren; C Spencer, D Pullen, O Sugden, I Buckley, S Inman, J Fulford, L Sugden, S Dyson. Replacements: W Armitage, G Fletcher, D Lester.