COUGARS boss Craig Lingard has challenged his line-up to maintain their high standards ahead of Sunday’s clash at Gloucestershire All Golds.
Keighley kicked off their 2017 Kingstone Press League One campaign with an impressive 50-8 triumph over North Wales Crusaders at the weekend.
Cougar Park was rocking as the hosts ran in nine tries to start the new season in stunning style. A magnificent seven of those scores came in the first half as Lingard’s men got off to a real flyer.
Now, the head coach wants to see more of the same when the Cougars head to the Prince of Wales Stadium for their second league encounter.
“Regardless of who we’re playing, we need to keep our standards the same,” said Lingard.
“It always helps if you come out of the blocks, have a real good start and make a positive opening to the game.
“We certainly did that last weekend and that’s what we’ll be looking to do this Sunday as well.”
Lingard and his team may also benefit from their sneak peek at the All Golds last week.
He added: “Luckily, they played North Wales the week before us, so when we were reviewing North Wales we got a chance to look at them as well.
“They look a big, aggressive unit. They carried hard and strong last week and I would imagine they will try to do the same against us.
“Defensively, we’re going to have to muscle up. On Sunday, defensively we were good for the majority of the game although I wasn’t pleased with some of the tries we conceded.
“It was heavy ground and people are going to get slightly fatigued, and one of their tries came on the back of three repeat sets – when you’ve completed 13 or 14 tackles they are going to be a bit tired.
“So in the main I think we can let them off a couple of mistakes.”
While Emmerson Whittel is ruled out of action for up to three months with the broken jaw he sustained in the now infamous Challenge Cup victory over Fryston, Lingard has received some more welcome news on the injury front.
“It’s pretty positive at the minute,” he confirmed. “I think Adam Brook (ribs) should be coming back to fitness either next week or the week after.
“Ben Sagar’s still a few weeks away with his hamstring injury and his operation, and we’ll have a look at any battered bodies from the weekend and take it from there.”
Another option is James Brown, who played on Sunday after joining from Batley on dual-registration terms.
Lingard remarked; “I thought James was great, and he bought into what we wanted him to do. He actually asked to come to get some game time.
“A lot of people are not really pleased about dual-reg but it is what it is. If we can get a top-class Championship player in our team then we’ll do that.
“They’ve got to have the right attitude and the right work ethic – James has done that and justified his selection with his performance.”