Keighley must be at the races at Pontefract

Hooker Will Armitage makes a timely return for Keighley at Pontefract. Picture: Charlie Perry

Hooker Will Armitage makes a timely return for Keighley at Pontefract. Picture: Charlie Perry

First published in Sport Ilkley Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Sports Reporter

Keighley’s match at Pontefract on Saturday is, by general consent, their most vital for almost two seasons.

Having beaten Old Brodleians 20-9 at Rose Cottage last Saturday, the relegation-threatened SSE Yorkshire Division One side must back that up by winning again at the team who are a place above them in the table.

A bonus-point victory would mean Keighley only trail Ponte by five points with eight matches to go.

“It is our most important game since we won our play-off match 18-16 at Alnwick in April 2012 to go into North One East,” said Keighley’s director of rugby Graeme Sheffield.

Avoiding relegation would become a huge task were Keighley to lose but they have first-choice hooker Will Armitage back from a calf injury to replace Craig Dyson, who broke a leg last weekend against Old Brods.

Two successive victories have renewed confidence at Bradford & Bingley, but they still have work to do to avoid going down from SSE National League Three North.

Ben Greaves is unavailable at fourth-placed Rossendale but Tom Kanauros is up for selection.

Nothing is stopping the Cleckheaton juggernaut at the moment in SSE North One East, and the leaders, buoyed by their superb back row of Richard Piper, Ollie Akroyd and player-coach Rob Afoa Peterson, hope to continue their winning trail at home to Wheatley Hills.

Bradford Salem, who have slipped from second to sixth in SSE Yorkshire Division Two on the back of three straight defeats, are at Moortown.

Old Grovians, who have a home derby against Aireborough, are seeking back-to-back wins for the first time this season in SSE Yorkshire Division Three.

Cleckheaton (home to Wheatley Hills): R Hayden; M Woodhead, J Wilson, Matt Piper, James Marshall; Michael Piper, J Bickerdike; P Turner, B Thrower, A Piper, A Dawson, R Piercy, R Afoa Peterson, R Piper, O Akroyd. Replacements (from): C Piper, G Turton, C Blackburn, J Crowther.

Keighley (at Pontefract): D McGee; L Carter, A Ebbrell, M Ferrazzano, S Walker; A Brown, I Woodwiss; C Spencer, W Armitage, P Sinfield, D Iliff, J Walker, D Pullen, S Minikin, L Sugden. Replacements: J Hannah, D Smith, L Everett.

Bradford Salem (at Moortown): D Belcher; A Wood, C Malarkey, T Barnes, A Sutcliffe; A Robinson, J Mitchell; J Bradbury, S Markey, D Luxton, J Cunliffe, R Green, D Pearson, K Falwasser, J Fawcett. Replacements: J Booth, J Ashworth, A Veitch.

Old Grovians (home to Aireborough) from: J Oakes, E Cottle, C Blackhall, T Dalton, D Roberts, M Lister, J Trenholme, P Medley, D Gullick, C Cockshott, J Feeney, J Strauss, B Brown, A Weaving, A Magee, J Yates, A Griffin, O Szymanski, D Hendricks, D Hogg, A Cadman, J Hinchliffe.

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