Newcastle Thunder 36-12 Keighley Cougars Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)
KEIGHLEY Cougars’ top eight aspirations took a major knock as they slumped to defeat on the road at Newcastle Thunder.
The game marked club captain James Feather’s 300th appearance for the Cougars. However, his big day would be spoilt.
“I’m massively disappointed, especially after the first half where we handled the difficult conditions extremely well,” said Head Coach Craig Lingard.
“But in the second half we just completely tipped over for Newcastle and lacked any sort of enthusiasm and desire so they deserved the win.
“Because of the importance of the game it is definitely the worst performance the lads have put in since I arrived at the club especially after the way we played in the first half.
“Our biggest problem is we’re lacking a lot of composure and patience because we want everything to happen now and it doesn’t happen like that especially against the other sides in the top eight.
“You’ve got to be willing to put the graft in for the full 80 minutes and just keeping doing the things you worked on in training but when you try to solve it on your own, it doesn’t work.”
The visitors broke the deadlock as Josh Tonks charged through the Thunder line and, after quick hands from Matty Beharrell, Adam Ryder raced over unchallenged from 20 metres out.
Newcastle responded, and took advantage after a lapse in the Cougars’ defence saw them fail to complete a tackle on Lewis Young which allowed the full-back to show great tenacity and squeeze his way over the line.
Thunder then went ahead as Tom Shaw put up a hanging kick on the last tackle, which allowed Ali Blair to beat Vinny Finigan in the air and touch the ball down.
Cougars re-took the lead immediately however from a short kick off. Liam Darville showed great feet to cut inside to his right and get the ball to Finigan who crashed over in the corner.
Lingard will have felt his side were hard done by from a referee’s decision, as on their next attack Brad Nicholson appeared to outstretch his arm for a try but the official ruled he had knocked on.
And Thunder were also disappointed not to add to the scoreboard when, following a penalty for holding in the tackle, Benn Hardcastle dragged his effort wide of the uprights.
The hosts then scored under contentious circumstances as the referee ruled Ryder had knocked the ball free when it appeared a knock-on, allowing the home side to work their way downfield and put Blair over for his second try.
Newcastle, for the first time in the game, took a comprehensive lead as Hardcastle utilised a lovely ‘show and go’ on the last tackle to create the space to dive over next to the uprights.
Their performance stepped up another gear with Hardcastle’s kick taking a wicked bounce off the 4G surface, allowing Young to pick the ball out the air and go in underneath the posts.
Keighley chances were few and far between, and the closest they came throughout the entire second half was when Andy Gabriel was held just short of the line with Darville spilling the offload.
Young sealed his hat-trick for the hosts when he saw off two would-be tacklers to go over next to the uprights.