Eaton plots cup upset


Keighley coach Barry Eaton is looking to repay the Cougars’ loyal supporters by beating Widnes Vikings in Sunday’s Northern Rail Cup semi-final at Cougar Park.

Eaton’s side started the Co-operative Championship season with a nine-point deduction and he believes that the semi-final clash presents the perfect opportunity to put on a show for the home fans and get one step closer to the final at Bloomfield Road on Sunday July 18.

Eaton said: “This is a chance to thank all our loyal fans who have stuck by us through adversity this season by producing a strong performance against Widnes.

“We always knew that we would have to start the season with a points deduction but the Northern Rail Cup gave us the opportunity to start on a level playing field with teams in the competition.”

The Cougars are now just 80 minutes away from a Northern Rail Cup final appearance and Eaton is delighted by a home fixture but admits that his side will have to be at their best to overcome a Widnes team who have lifted the trophy twice in the last three years.

Eaton went on: “It is fantastic to be drawn at home in such a high profile game.

“We had the luck of a home draw in the quarter-finals and again in the semi-final but we’re up against the favourites so we will need to play to our potential.

“We may need a bit of fortune. We have had a few key decisions go against us in the last few games so we’ll need a reversal of that this time around.”
A home defeat against Dewsbury Rams last Sunday denied the Cougars a chance to move off the bottom and Eaton is keen to see his charges get back on track against one of his former clubs. 

“We were very disappointed as a group. We didn’t play to the conditions but this week’s game gives us the ideal opportunity to give a positive response,” said Eaton, who played for the Vikings in the 2002 Super League season, missing just three games.

“Sunday’s game was really big for us but we’re still only five points away from Whitehaven and Dewsbury.

“We’ve had a number of highs and lows this season but for every low we’ve come back and shown a good response.

“Widnes is a massive club and I had a really enjoyable season with them. They are definitely a Super League club and I’d like to wish them all the best with their licence application next year.

Keighley were beaten 72-10 when they visited Halton Stadium in February and Eaton is confident his side can avoid a repeat this weekend. .

“We have made some big improvements since that defeat at the start of the season,” he said.

“We didn’t deal with the occasion very well and played like rabbits stuck in the headlight. Hopefully we’ve learnt from that and we can put in a good performance on Sunday.”