Royston: Let's keep feel-good factor going

Paul Royston

Paul Royston

First published in Sport by

Cougars performance director Paul Royston believes Sunday’s home clash with struggling Rochdale is a great opportunity to move another step closer to safety.

March’s side claimed a highly impressive 29-16 win at Sheffield Eagles last weekend to move five points clear of the Kingstone Press Championship drop zone.

The result halted a streak of four straight defeats and kept Cougars firmly on track for survival in the second tier ahead of a major restructure of the domestic game next year.

Rochdale are next up this weekend and Royston, who has been largely responsible for directing team affairs during games while March serves his two-month stadium ban, is confident Cougars can again rise to the challenge.

Royston said: “It’s absolutely crucial that we stay up this season – there is no doubt about that.

“We are still quite a way off until the end of the season but already the focus is on that objective because of what is at stake.

“To go away to Sheffield and win is a big confidence boost and it was important to get our season kickstarted again after three defeats in the league.

“Hopefully this gets us going on another sequence again and the great thing last week was that we did it away from home.

“Mentally, you would say it’s nearly always harder to go away from home and get a result, especially against a team like Sheffield.

“They have been champions in the past two seasons so we were delighted to get a win there and are now looking to carry that feelgood factor into Sunday’s game.”

Rochdale lie second bottom in the table and Cougars will be confident of building on last week’s win at Owlerton Stadium.

But Royston says they will be taking nothing for granted and will treat the Hornets with the utmost respect.

He added: “We can’t be disrespectful to anyone and it’s the old cliché of taking it one game at a time.

“To be fair, you would like to think on the back of beating Sheffield we can put on another good performance against Rochdale and carry that momentum forward again.

“Rochdale came up last season and are in more of a building process.

“With the restructuring of the game as it is, and every team fighting to finish in the top nine, they have had a tough start and have been struggling a little bit.

“They’re just trying to get a foothold again but we would like to think that another strong performance would see us push on again.”

Prop Andy Shickell will be assessed after missing the Sheffield game with a niggle and Paul White also missed out.

But Royston added: “I don’t see any major changes because it’s a squad game and you’ve got to be able to rotate players as and when.”

Meanwhile, Richie Barnett, Paul Handforth and Jode Sheriffe were named in the Championship team of the week following Cougars’ win last week.

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