Under 20’s Coach Dean Muir spent the vast majority of Friday Night’s game pacing the touchline at the Salford City Stadium barking out instructions to his charges .and amongst the team orders and game plans the word ‘desire’ was much to be heard Muir’s charges heeded the call ,and despite a final 42-16 score line in favour of Salford ,the Keighley boys turned in a performance full of heart and desire against a home side developed in the Full Time Super League Environment at the City Stadium.
Hooker Sean Kelly‘s controversial sin binning on 35 mins for an offence in the tackle proved to be the turning point of the game , Cougars at that point leading 10-6 but the ten minutes numerical advantage for the home side saw them run in two tries in that time to take a lead that Keighley despite their endeavor could not pull back .
Muir despite his teams efforts was in an unforgiving mood post match ‘ To be honest at times we let ourselves down by not sticking to the game plan especially in the second half and we gave away far too many penalties for things we shouldn’t be doing at this level.’
‘However we scored some well constructed trys and I was really impressed with the contribution of young Chris Watson who was awesome for us tonight in the second row . Also I’d specially mention another of our 17 year old’s, Aaron Levy whose hard work was rewarded by his first try at this level.
Rob Hawthorne , gave the Cougars the perfect start touching down on three mins . Strong forward runs by Props Patchett and Reed tested the home defence and after a Salford infringement in the tackle the ball was worked across the line from the penalty allowing Hawthorne to scramble over the for the opening score.
The then expected siege of the Cougars try line from the more experienced Reds side commenced. However they had not reckoned on the determined visiting defence .With the experienced duo of Ecclestone and Copperwaite leading the Keighley resistance with some crunching tackles and the ever vocal Hawthorne organizing the defensive line and encouraging his team mates to greater heights, they held back the wave after wave of Reds attack until the pressure finally told on 19mins Second rower Chris Hankinson making the first breech of the Cougars line and Jordan Davies adding the conversion.
More sustained Salford pressure followed as they looked to up their advantage but a great kick and chase out of defence from Jordan Atchison gave the Cougars good field position and allowed Ecclestone to wrestle his way over to give Keighley the lead . Good approach work from Kelly and Stead set up the loose forward who still had work to do holding off a flurry of defenders to touch down one handed five yards to the right of the posts giving Stead an easy conversion and the Cougars a 10-6 advantage . They nearly further increased their lead minutes later when Adam Reardon broke impressively from his own half but his pass to supporting winger Whitely was not the best and the chance was gone.
Two more tries in quick succession followed to give Salford the advantage at the break , after Kelly’s sin binning, Sub Danny Wells was followed over Stand Off Dan Lomax . Both score’s seeing the ball worked across the line to stretch the beleaguered 12 man Keighley defence, creating the gap and both were converted from the boot of the consistent Jordan Davies .
Worse was to follow for the Cougars in the opening twenty of the second half. A string of penalties for the home side after Keighley indiscretion’s gave Salford both valuable position and possession and they capitalized on this adding three further scores through Wells , Bibby as well as a second of the evening for Hankinson. The loss of the influential Ecclestone through injury added further to the Cougars woes .
The return from the bench of strong running Props Reed and Patchett gave Keighley some hope especially when a well timed short ball from Stead put young Aaron Levy over for his maiden try at U20’s level . Stand off Stead kicking his second of the afternoon..
Shortly afterwards Atchison’s long range breakaway stepping through the Salford defence provided one of the highlights of the evening . The former Bradford Bulls Junior’s pass out to the supporting Andy Walker was an accurate one but the winger had little room on the outside and was bundled into touch just short of the line . Great defensive work from the Cougars other winger Whitley set up the initial attack as he tracked back and got between two Salford attackers to intercept what would have been a certain try making pass for the Reds.
On the hooter The City Reds took the final points of the evening against a tiring Cougar defence. Hooker Kelly pulled off a great hit to deny the Reds but his team mates could not hold out and his opposing Number 9 Harry Files added the final four pointer of the match , Jordan Davies finishing the game in style with an excellent conversion from out wide .
The U20’s next game is a Saturday afternoon game at Cougar Park , June 15th v South Wales Scorpions kick off 2.30pm