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Cougars Overcome A Skolars Shocker To Win

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Keighley Cougars 26-18 London Skolars Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)

KEIGHLEY Cougars kept up their Betfred League One play-off push, despite struggling to victory over London Skolars in a lacklustre encounter.

It took the hosts the best part of an hour to get a foothold in the game before pushing themselves to victory, but Craig Lingard was relieved to get the two points on the board.

“The assessment in the dressing room was it wasn’t pretty, it was far from our best but we’ve got the two points,” admitted Lingard.

“I was really disappointed with our first-half performance because we played a lot of dumb rugby, lost the energy battle and to be honest London out enthused us throughout that first half.

“But, I’ve got to give full credit to our guys because there’s a lot of character and determination in that dressing room and the second forty was a lot better than the first but again we weren’t as good as we need to be.

“We always look at where we can improve and everything we said that London would do they did and they did it very well but we just didn’t switch on to what we needed to do and that is disappointing.

“It wasn’t the best performance and to be honest that was our get out of jail free card but at the end of the day, a win is a win.”

After both sides missed early opportunities to score, the visitors struck first when a Neil Thorman kick allowed Jake Melling to force an error from Davey Dixon, with Thorman touching down the loose ball.

The Cougars levelled the scores in a drab first 40 when, from a scrum, Adam Ryder raced through the London line to slide home in the corner.

The visitors re-took the lead though from another Keighley error as a Dixon knock-on resulted in a repeat set on the line from which Ryan Burroughs dodged an attempted tackle to stroll over from close range.

Scott Law was then lucky to not see a card after a high shot that ended the afternoon of Skolars half-back Phil Lyon but did leave the forward placed on report.

And on the brink of half-time, the Cougars were penalised for interference in the tackle, prompting Thorman to take the two points on offer.

Thorman would take another two points shortly after the interval, converting after the referee had deemed the Cougars guilty of crossing.

Keighley were heavily relying on the spark to ignite their afternoon, and it came through Andy Gabriel as the winger slipped his former team-mate Vinny Finigan and raced 90 metres to the corner.

And the next Cougars attacking set brought another try as Brad Nicholson turned his marker on the line to crash over from close range.

The Cougars then look the lead for the first time in the game as Ritchie Hawkyard created numbers on the overlap, with Perry Whiteley making the most of the man advantage down the wing to score.

London did draw level though as Thorman converted his third penalty of the afternoon after Matthew Bailey was penalised for a high tackle.

Former Cougar Finigan then saw his afternoon brought to an early end as he narrowly avoided a red card after only being sent for ten by the official after a spear tackle on Gabriel.

The resulting penalty saw Keighley take advantage of the numbers as Gabriel had a walk-in at the corner where Finigan was defending throughout the afternoon.

The Skolars’ ill-discipline then cost them the game as a whole as two further penalties were both successfully converted from 20 metres out by Matty Beharrell.

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