COUGARS boss Craig Lingard already has his eyes on local bragging rights after the 2018 fixture list served up an early derby treat.

The opponents that all Keighley fans are no doubt eyeing up – their district neighbours Bradford Bulls – will visit Cougar Park in only the third league game of the campaign on Sunday, March 11.

Unlike last season, the league’s change in format means they are guaranteed to play their local rivals home and away with Keighley set to visit Odsal on Sunday, September 2.

Lingard, who once worked as a coach on the Bulls scholarship programme, is excited about the buzz it will bring to the district.

The teams met in a pre-season friendly earlier this year when Cougars won the Joe Phillips Memorial Trophy 25-24 with a late drop goal.

“It’s the first time in a long time that we’ve had home and away fixtures against Bradford,” he said.

“I think it’s really important for the game as a whole that you’ve got these local derbies, these important games, and I think it gets people through the terraces and gets the town talking.

“If we get one over on them again, we’ll be smiling all season.”

Keighley have an intriguing opening fixture as Leon Pryce makes his coaching bow when he brings his Workington Town team to Cougar Park on Sunday, February 18.

The former Super League star has taken over the Cumbrians, having retired from playing while back at the Bulls midway through last summer.

Cougars will be looking to improve on their recent record at Kingston Park when they head to Newcastle Thunder for their first away game of the season on March 4. Lingard’s side lost twice there last campaign.

Another tasty encounter follows the Cougars’ first clash with the Bulls as they head to York City Knights on March 25.

The sides played out a feisty affair last season when former Knight Josh Tonks was sent off and several Keighley players were cited for foul play by Knights boss James Ford.

Like this year, Keighley will face Hunslet on Good Friday and will also head to London Skolars on a Friday (August 24) when they are back to being their opponents for the traditional appetiser in the capital before the Challenge Cup at Wembley the following day.

Cougars must wait until the penultimate game of the programme to visit West Wales Raiders at Stebonheath Park on September 16. The Raiders changed their name from South Wales Ironmen and have switched venues to Llanelli.

Cougars end their scheduled fixtures at home to North Wales Crusaders but will hope to extend their season by reaching the top-five play-offs.


Sun Feb 18 Workington Town H

Sun Mar 4 Newcastle Thunder A

Sun Mar 11 Bradford Bulls H

Sun Mar 25 York City Knights A

Fri Mar 30 Hunslet (2pm) A

Sun Apr 8 Hemel Stags H

Sun Apr 15 Oldham A

Sun Apr 29 Whitehaven H

Sun May 6 Coventry Bears H

Sun May 20 North Wales Crus (2.30) A

Sun May 27 London Skolars H

Sun Jun 10 Doncaster A

Sun Jun 17 West Wales Raiders H

Sun Jun 24 York City Knights H

Sun Jul 1 Whitehaven A

Sun Jul 8 Hemel Stags (2pm) A

Sun Jul 15 Oldham H

Sun Jul 22 Coventry Bears A

Sun Jul 29 Hunslet H

Sun Aug 5 Workington Town A

Sun Aug 12 Newcastle Thunder H

Fri Aug 24 London Skolars (7pm) A

Sun Sep 2 Bradford Bulls A

Sun Sep 9 Doncaster H

Sun Sep 16 West Wales Raiders A

Sun Sep 23 North Wales Crusaders H

*kick-offs 3pm unless stated