Barrow Raiders 32-18 Keighley Cougars Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)
COUGARS’ season came to an end with a fifth defeat of the year at the hands of old foes Barrow as they missed out on a place in the play-offs next weekend.
Victory for Keighley would have seen them claim a top-five spot after Doncaster lost at Toronto but the Raiders claimed their second league victory over Craig Lingard’s side, having also won twice in cup competitions and in a pre-season friendly.
“We just let Barrow off the hook, there was a period at the start of the second half where they failed to complete 2 or 3 sets but we backed up by failing to complete 2 or 3 of our own,” said Lingard.
“They had a dip and we couldn’t take advantage with the repeat sets and something we need to learn is that when teams are struggling a little bit in games we’ve got to increase our tempo and increase what we’re doing to our advantage.
“It’s something which has happened to us throughout this season where we’ve had a bit of a dip in games and other teams have started to put points on the board and we didn’t manage to do at the start of the second half today unfortunately.”
Barrow got off to the best possible start when, after the Cougars spilled the ball, they worked their way to the line where Nathan Mossop burrowed his way over from close range.
Andy Gabriel broke down the left wing and seemed destined for the line but Joe Bullock was on hand to chase the winger down.
Cougars did draw level through the unlikeliest source as Neil Cherryholme powered his way underneath the posts from close range for what was the retiring prop’s first try since July 2015.
Lewis Charnock then thought he’d turned his way over to restore the Barrow lead but referee Nick Bennett ruled the half-back had knocked on.
Charnock then handed the Raiders a narrow lead with the boot, opting for two after Keighley were adjudged to have been offside.
The Cougars were then penalised for an incorrect play-the-ball but, on this occasion, Charnock was unsuccessful, dragging the kick just wide of the uprights.
The first half was on a knife’s edge until Shane Toal produced a moment of individual brilliance to carve through the Keighley defence and race 90 metres to extend the Barrow lead to eight points.
But the home side put a bigger wedge between the opponents when Tom Walker, who had only just been passed fit after biting through his own tongue at Toronto the previous week, marauded his way to the line from 15 metres out.
Keighley played a contentious short kick-off from the restart and, despite the ball not appearing to go the ten metres, the Cougars broke down field and an offload on the line under pressure found Davey Dixon, who scored his easiest try of the year.
Keighley’s ill-discipline then cost them dearly as a Dallimore kick to touch made the metres downfield before Bullock battled his way to the line.
Raiders put the seal on a fine afternoon’s work when Wilkes broke after a missed tackle and offloaded to Charnock, who jogged his way to the line.
Cougars had the final say though as Gabriel scored in the corner with two minutes remaining.