Keighley aim to bridge division

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The Independent Online
RUGBY LEAGUE The Regal Trophy will tomorrow give Keighley another chance to test themselves against first division opposition, but reaching that division remains their priority.

Keighley, the revivalist club of the 1990s, are five points clear at the top of the second division, have already beaten Sheffield Eagles in this competition, and present a very real threat to Warrington in their quarter-final at Cougar Park.

"But our game against London Broncos on Wednesday is far more important to us," said the Keighley coach, Phil Larder. "If we won the Regal Trophy but blew promotion, it would be a very unsuccessful season."

That is certainly true, but it is also a good way of relaxing a side which could be noticeably below full strength.

Keighley have doubts about Steve Hall, who has been their outstanding forward this season, and about the stand-off Martin Wood, and the wingers Keith Dixon and Neil Kenyon.

Brendan Hill, Darren Appleby and John Walker are all likely to be called up, and there should also be a place on the bench for Larder's 18-year-old son, David, a back-row forward who impressed as a substitute in Keighley's last league match with Huddersfield.

Warrington will be without Gary Chambers, while Widnes, at home to Bradford, have lost their Test full-back, Stuart Spruce, for the rest of the season with torn knee ligaments. Bradford carry out a reshuffle, with Dave Watson at stand-off, Roger Simpson at full-back and Neil Summers at hooker.

Castleford, the holders, will be without Graham Steadman, so Simon Middleton moves to full-back for the first time in two years at Headingley. Leeds have the in-form Kevin Iro fit, and will be unchanged.

Wigan hope that Phil Clarke could make a surprise return, and both Jason Robinson and Shaun Edwards should be fit for the visit of St Helens, who are waiting for news from a specialist on Scott Gibbs' knee, with David Lyon standing by to deputise.