KEIGHLEY RUFC head coach Dan McGee is delighted his team have not dropped off after their near-miss last season, and admits he has no issue with seeing them grind out victories when needed.

The Rose Cottage outfit were unlucky to not be promoted from Counties One Yorkshire in 2022/23, coming second when only champions Goole went up.

But it could be second time lucky for McGee’s men, who topped the table by three points from West Leeds heading into this season’s Christmas break, knowing only winning the title will 100 per cent guarantee them promotion.

Keighley are back in Counties One action at home to struggling Old Rishworthian this Saturday, and will fancy their chances having not lost a league game at Rose Cottage for over four years.

A buoyant McGee told the Keighley News: “There’s always that danger of putting your all into a promotion push, falling short at that final hurdle, and worrying about how motivated the lads will be to go again the following season.

“But we pushed hard in getting promotion in 2021/22 then performed at a high level again in 2022/23, so it’s something we’ve got used to.

“I’m pleased with how we’ve raised ourselves for some really tough games this season and I’m pleased with where we’re at currently.”

Keighley News: Keighley cruised to this win over Harrogate Pythons last month, but they have had to dig deep for victories at times this season too.Keighley cruised to this win over Harrogate Pythons last month, but they have had to dig deep for victories at times this season too. (Image: John Ashton.)

Keighley can win in a variety of ways, destroying title rivals Wetherby 40-12 at home in their penultimate game before Christmas, before entering the break with a battling 18-6 comeback win at mid-table Leodiensian.

McGee said: “It is important to have the ability to dig in and win sometimes.

“We were 6-0 down at Leos, and we don’t often win there, but the lads kept cool heads and remembered what they’d done in previous games this season.

“They didn’t panic, ground out a win, and that was pleasing for us as coaches, as that’s the sign of a confident team, but not an arrogant one.

“That attitude is going to be especially important in the second half of the season with tricky games away to the likes of Pocklington and Harrogate Pythons, which we’d expect to be a grind.”

Another tricky game will be their home derby against Bradford Salem in mid-February.

Keighley will be after revenge after losing the reverse fixture 8-3 at Shay Lane in November, with that result, and Salem’s current position of third, little surprise to McGee.

He said: “You saw how hard they work for each other when they beat us at their place.

“They’re a physical side and it’ll be a good local derby when we play them next month, after them pipping us in November.

“They’ve got some good players and it should be a great game when they come here.”

Whether it’s Bradford Salem in mid-February or Old Rishworthian this Saturday, Keighley are confident of beating anyone at Rose Cottage given their remarkable home record.

McGee said: “We do talk about it, and we have something up at the club which marks the number of days since we lost at home.

“But we’re not consumed by the record and we know there’s always a danger it’ll go at some point.

“The worry is us ever becoming complacent and just thinking we need to turn up and win when we’re at home, but our conversations are always about earning those victories.

“We’re confident at home, and do talk about ‘Fortress Keighley’, but we don’t take that record for granted.”