Eaton hoping to go one step closer to glory

Keighley Cougars coach Barry Eaton is in confident mood ahead of the Northern Rail Cup quarter-final against York City Knights at Cougar Park on Sunday.

The Cougars qualified for the last eight after winning three of their four games in the group stages and Eaton is hoping to get one step closer to the Bloomfield Road Final on Sunday July 18 by beating their Co-operative Championship One opponents.

Eaton said: “For us to get to Blackpool would be outstanding. The final at Blackpool is now a massive day on the Rugby League calendar for all of the Championship clubs.

“There’s a long way to go, but we’re hoping that we can do as well as we can against York, and qualify for a semi-final, and who knows from there?”

The Northern Rail Cup provided Keighley with the opportunity to start on a level footing after a nine-point deduction in the Co-operative Championship and Eaton believes that is has given the club a real focus heading into the second half of the season.

“The Northern Rail Cup gave us something to focus on without having to concern ourselves with the points deduction in the league, and in my time at the club we had never previously qualified for the next stage of the competition,” said the former Dewsbury, Batley and Widnes scrum-half.

“It’s moved up a notch the last two seasons, because of the fact that winning it ticks a box for clubs trying to get into Super League.

“In the past perhaps some of the biggest clubs used it as a bit of a pre-season, but now everyone takes it seriously and that’s made it more important and appealing.”

Eaton has admitted that although the Cougars go into the match as favourites, they will not underestimate a Kinghts side who they beat 32-18 on their way to winning the Co-operative Championship One Grand Final last year.

“We haven’t seen York since we beat them in the play-offs on the road to getting to last year’s Grand Final,” added Eaton.

“It was a tough tussle, and they’ve been through a lot of changes since then while we’ve had a fair bit of continuity.

“They’ve had a lot of changes in personnel and recently they’ve brought in Dave Woods on board and by the time they play, he will have settled in. It will be a tough challenge, but we’ll probably be favourites and we’re aware of that.”

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