Forwards key for Keighley in survival fight

Keighley News: Graeme Sheffield Graeme Sheffield

Keighley director of rugby Graeme Sheffield is hoping another strong performance from his pack can boost their SSE Yorkshire Division One survival hopes at home to North Ribblesdale on Saturday.

Despite a comprehensive defeat at leaders Dinnington last time out, his side have kept their chances of beating the drop alive with three wins from their last five league games.

And Sheffield admits that their forwards have been crucial to their resurgence, especially in light of losing key players in the back line.

He said: “Since Christmas, our pack has played a big role in the successes that we have had.

“Marco Ferrazzano breaking his jaw was a terrible blow, having just lost Ben Blackwell to Keighley Cougars under-20s.

“That was like having the heart ripped out of our back line, though Alan Ebrell, Liam McGee and Adam Horsfall are doing all they can.

“Our pack at this moment in time is key for us and they had a good half against Dinnington.”

The 64-15 defeat at the south Yorkshire leaders may not have been good for the points against column but Sheffield knows it is their three remaining home games that are more likely to provide an escape route from relegation.

With York and Wath also due at Rose Cottage, he said: “We are targeting our last three home games. That’s not to say we can’t take points away from home but we have not got a great record on the road.”

Keighley – who are six points behind third-from-bottom Pontefract but with a game in hand - will be keen to make up for a 25-7 defeat to Settle neighbours North Ribb earlier in the season, when Sheffield admitted his side were disappointing.

The Utley outfit welcome back Dave Pullen in the pack, while Steve Walsh comes in for Jimmy Walker.

In the backs, Liam McGee is set to travel north again from London and Adam Horsfall has recovered after a recurring back injury forced him off against Dinnington. However, work commitments mean it could be his last game of the season.

Keighley (home to North Ribblesdale): KO 3pm, meet 1:30pm. From: O Mitchell; A Horsfall, A Ebbrell, L McGee, S Walker; D McGee, I Woodwiss; C Spencer, W Armitage, P Sinfield, S Booker, D Iliff, S Welch, S Minikin, D Pullen, L Sugden, J Hannah, D Drake.

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