Keighley Cougars v Doncaster RLFC: Dons can lay down a marker in iPro Sport Cup clash - Thornton

Gary Thornton
Gary Thornton

Doncaster RLFC boss Gary Thornton will find himself up against a familiar face in Sunday’s iPro Sport Cup first round tie at Keighley.

New Keighley head coach Craig Lingard, who holds the club’s try-scoring record, played under Thornton during his spell in charge at Batley.

Lingard, who had been No 2 to John Kear at Batley for four years, was appointed the new Keighley boss following the departure of Paul March.

“I know Craig very well and he’s a top lad and I’m sure he’ll make a success of his first job as a head coach,” said Thornton.

“He’s put together a good squad including two former Doncaster players – Mike Emmett, who was at York last season, and Brad Nicholson.

“They had a great pre-season - I went to watch them play (relegated) Whitehaven and they thrashed them – so it’s going to be tough.

“I was a bit disappointed with our performance against Hull FC in our last pre-season game, but we had several players missing who will be playing on Sunday, and a couple of others were playing their first game of the year.”

He added: “Keighley won the trophy last season and I’m sure that they’ll be wanting to keep hold of it. With the likely conditions and the fact it’s a tight pitch, I expect them to try and play down the middle and the squad we take over there will reflect that.

“I’m confident we can get a result, as we did at the start of last season.

“If we can do that it would lay down a marker for the campaign because I would expect Keighley, who probably under-achieved last year, to be one of the teams up there challenging for promotion.”