Cougars player-coach Paul March is dreaming of facing one of Super League’s big guns after his side marched into the Tetley’s Challenge Cup quarter-finals.
March’s men are in the hat for this evening’s last-eight draw after dispatching Kingstone Press Championship rivals Swinton 33-20 in style on Saturday.
The match, staged at Leigh Sports Village, saw Cougars ultimately run out emphatic victors against their gutsy hosts.
Two tries from stand-off Anthony Bowman had given the Lions an early 10-4 lead and he completed his hat-trick on the hour during their second-half fightback, only to finish on the losing side.
Winger Richie Barnett scored two tries for Cougars, with Daley Williams scoring their clincher on 63 minutes before Paul Handforth rounded off the scoring with a late drop goal.
March said: “Leeds Rhinos away would be fantastic and would secure the club’s future financially.
“On the other hand, there will be another Championship side in the next round so to get them would be a disaster. Any big Super League side would be great.”
Danny Lawton opened the scoring inside the opening exchanges after some fine work from full back James Craven.
But Swinton hit back in the eighth minute when Bowman took advantage of some sloppy defending to score twice in quick succession.
Cougars responded in style, however, and in the 25th minute replacement Jode Sheriffe powered over the line.
Six minutes before the break, Barnett grabbed his first of the afternoon after seizing on a delightful kick from Danny Jones to touch down.
On the stroke of half-time, Jones kicked a penalty to open the gap to six points following a near brawl which resulted in Daley Williams and Richie Hawkyard being sent to the sin-bin.
Cougars began the second half in style and added a further ten points to the scoreboard to put the game beyond Swinton.
In the 46th minute, Craven took the ball out of a scrum before dummying through a gap to score.
Barnett then finished well from Jones’ high kick for his second try of the afternoon.
Swinton refused to lie down and hit back with two tries in three minutes on the hour mark.
First Bowman completed his hat-trick before Steve Lewis caught Craven napping to race in and touch down a grubber kick.
But Williams, out of the sin bin, took another kick from Jones to score before Handforth landed a well-executed drop-goal with five minutes remaining.
March, whose squad partied at Cougar Park on Saturday night, added: “We didn’t play particularly well but we’re in the last eight and that’s all that matters.”
Swinton: R Hawkyard, Worthington, Bowman, Peet, Warrilow, Atkin, Watson, Morrison, Ackers, Menzies, Philbin, D Hawkyard, Brown. Interchange: Johnson, Thomas, Hulme, Lewis.
Cougars: Craven, Barnett, Lawton, Williams, White, Jones, Handforth, Law, March, Hesketh, Lynam, Rawlins, Sagar. Interchange: Jode Sheriffe, Graham, Peltier, Haigh.