Keighley Cougars 42-0 Whitehaven Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)
CRAIG Lingard’s Keighley Cougars laid down a marker to their League One promotion rivals as they beat Whitehaven 42-0 in their second pre-season friendly.
A blistering opening quarter set the tone for the afternoon as the Cougars raced into a 20-0 lead against the shell-shocked Cumbrian side.
Following the game, Lingard said: “It was always going to be interesting to see how we fared against Whitehaven as they will be up there in League One this season.
“We want to use Cougar Park as a fortress this season and we stepped up against a side such as Whitehaven and I’m really pleased with the side.
“I know our attack isn’t a problem but I wanted to see our defensive effort and our attitude to defence was really good.
“It’s difficult to pinpoint an individual performance when you get a team effort like that as you’re only as strong as your weakest link and across the park today I thought we looked strong.
“I thought it was a bit scrappy in the last 25 minutes and when you have a side like Whitehaven on the ropes you’ve got to knock them out and not beat around the body.
“This was a significant step up in class of opposition and we laid a marker down.”
The home side broke the deadlock in the fourth minute when Matty Beharrell chased through his own grubber kick and pounced to touch down next to the posts.
Whitehaven never got going throughout the afternoon and fell further behind four minutes later when on the last tackle Josh Tonks got the offload away to Vinny Finigan who dived over unchallenged in the far corner.
Finigan’s second try was a carbon copy of his first effort when, after Jordan Burns spilt the ball into touch, the ball was passed across the face of the Haven defence to the winger who touched down in the left corner once more.
Keighley continued to punish Whitehaven down the flanks and found themselves in the opposite corner on the 20 minute mark when Davey Dixon dove over after more fantastic play from Beharrell in the halves.
The visitors thought they had got onto the scoreboard when Burns went over in the corner but young referee Liam Staveley ruled the effort out, judging there was a forward pass in the build-up.
Lingard’s side went into the interval with a 26-point lead when, seven minutes before the hooter, the unstoppable Sean Hesketh powered his way over from five metres.
The half finished with a moment of controversy however as the referee blew up for the interval despite there being 20 seconds left on the clock.
The second half began stale but came to life after 55 minutes when, after pressure on the visitors line, Mike Emmett crashed over from the play the ball after Neil Cherryholme was held out just short of the line.
Whitehaven were on the ropes and delivered the knockout blow themselves as they tried the short kick off and were punished. Emmerson Whittel broke through the sluggish chasers and offloaded to fellow new recruit Nathan Kitson who ran the ball home underneath the uprights.
And another Cougars rout was completed with 17 minutes left on the clock when Brendon Rawlins marked the first appearance of his testimonial season with a try.