Keighley Cougars chief Gary Fawcett warns that Challenge Cup pay day won't come easy

Cougars celebrate a try in their cup victory over Barrow. Picture by Charlie Perry

Cougars celebrate a try in their cup victory over Barrow. Picture by Charlie Perry

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Cougars chairman Gary Fawcett is disappointed not to have been paired with a Super League giant in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup fifth round – and warned that a potentially-lucrative quarter-final tie will be hard to earn.

Keighley’s reward for a thumping 54-28 win over Barrow last Sunday is a trip to Championship rivals Swinton on Sunday, April 27 (3pm).

The tie has encouraged hopes that Paul March’s side can reach the last eight but Fawcett said the match at Leigh Sports Village offered little financial benefit.

With Leigh also hosting Featherstone, it means at least two club outside Super League will be in the last eight.

Fawcett said: “I think there are some interesting quarter-final pairings because, whatever happens, there will be at least two Championship clubs facing Super League opposition.

“But whereas there was a big cheer on Sunday night from the players and fans when we drew Swinton away, I was disappointed because they are probably the least supported of the remaining clubs in the competition.

“Therefore the financial value of playing there to the Cougars doesn’t compare well to the other draws we could have had.

“If our Challenge Cup run ends at Swinton, I will be very disappointed.”

Fawcett believes the trip to Swinton will be far from straightforward against a Lions side fourth from bottom in the table.

He added: “We must not assume that the tie against Swinton will be an easy one. “Swinton scored 22 points against Featherstone at the Big Fellas Stadium in their last run-out in the league.

“Their one win in the league was against Barrow and they have picked up three bonus points, including one against Halifax.

“The trip to Leigh Sporting Village will not be easy and we will need to be at our best to ensure we progress to the quarter-finals and a more lucrative tie.

“Making it through to the last eight would be yet another step forward for the Cougars. We have made some huge strides forward since administration at the end of 2009.

“It is worth remembering that we were immediately promoted back to the Championship in 2011, after being relegated in 2010 due to the burden of a nine-point deduction from the administration, and we are now in our third consecutive season in this tier.

“It has taken the club a long time to achieve this continuity and is the result of very hard work behind the scenes by the entire team at Cougar Park.”

Fawcett says he has been largely pleased with Keighley’s start to the season as they lie eighth in the Championship after six rounds.

The challenge, he said, was to maintain their league form with success in the Challenge Cup.

The Cougar Park chief said: “The primary objective this season is to ensure we are in the top eight as it will enable yet further progression for the club and the opportunity for some very exciting times.

“A secondary, and exciting objective, is to get as far as we can in the Challenge Cup and to get a dream tie in the quarter or semi-finals.

“Paul Handforth said in his man-of-the-match speech on Sunday that we need to do the job at Swinton and then get to the semi-finals by beating Leigh or Featherstone. Now that would be something!

“And it would be fantastic to follow that up with a draw against Bradford Bulls, Leeds Rhinos or Wigan at Cougar Park which would make the Challenge Cup run very lucrative for the club and build a very strong platform to achieve our ambitions over the coming years.”

Cougars are in buoyant mood after destroying Barrow last weekend and March is not expected to make any changes for Sunday’s trip to Batley.

Meanwhile, Cougars’ under-20s are playing against Featherstone at Cougar Park tonight with a 7.30pm kick off.

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