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Cougars Hold Off The Crusade For Victory

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North Wales Crusaders 28-46 Keighley Cougars Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)

KEIGHLEY Cougars kept themselves in the League One play-off hunt with a victory that avenged their Challenge Cup defeat at the same ground earlier in the season.

Despite the positive result though, Head Coach Craig Lingard was left bemoaning his side’s sloppy finish to the afternoon.

“It was massively frustrating,” said Lingard.

“We’ve turned in a really good 60 minute performance but the last 20 minutes has left a real sour taste in my mouth.

“Our standards really dropped, for the first hour we look solid defensively and our goal lien defence was outstanding and the talk was really good from the lads on the pitch and on the sidelines.

“But in those last 20 minutes we seemed to forget everything we did in the first hour and when North Wales had the ball they looked like they were going to break us everytime.

“At half-time the lads got together before they came off the field and I could hear Ritchie Hawkyard reminding them off what happened in the Cup game in February so I didn’t have to say much but our standards still seemed to drop.

“So it was really disappointing for me but I’d rather be stood talking about a disappointing victory instead of a disappointing defeat.”

The home side opened the scoring off a scrum when Joe Bate produced a smart play that drew in a Cougars defender, allowing him to put the ball on a plate for Kenny Baker.

The hosts should have doubled their advantage moments later as the ball was worked across to Gavin Conroy who was denied by a superb last ditch Andy Gabriel tackle.

Keighley responded on the back of a Dan Parker break. The ball was worked back and forth across the North Wales line, with Parker himself being the man to score.

Parker then turned provider after his grubber caused confusion within the North Wales ranks, allowing Perry Whiteley to pounce on the loose ball.

Cougars extended their advantage as Adam Ryder fought off a tackler to turn his way over the line from close range.

Lingard’s side had the game by the scruff of the neck and refused to let go as Nathan Conroy darted over from dummy half on the last tackle.

And on the sound of the hooter, Ryder helped himself to a second after a superb kick chase from Whiteley forced an error from the North Wales winger to make it 28-6 at the break.

Keighley had also been in control of their cup tie before Crusaders produced a second-half comeback.

They were determined not to let history repeat itself and, after a scrappy start to the second period, Cougars scored two quick-fire tries.

The first saw Scott Law walk over the line after being sent through a gap by a superb short Matty Beharrell pass.

From the restart, the ball was worked to the right corner where Whiteley and Davey Dixon linked up, with the former scoring his second.

The home side hit back with two quick tries of their own as Baker and then Brad Walker both took advantage of missed tackles to break through the visitor’s defence.

But Keighley sealed the win as Parker bagged his brace after squeezing over from close range after Benn Hardcastle was forced from the field with an injury following a late challenge, with the official placing the incident on report.

The Crusaders had the final say as Brad Brennan powered through to touch down on two separate occasions in the last two minutes of the eighty.

But a second consecutive win was in the bag for Cougars.

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