Keighley Cougars 26-26 Toronto Wolfpack Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)
DRAMA of the highest order was on the Cougar Park menu as a Matty Beharrell’s penalty kick at the death saw Keighley snatch a well-deserved point against leaders Toronto.
The draw leaves Cougars – who became only the second side to take points off Wolfpack – two behind fifth-placed Doncaster in the top-five play-off race.
“I couldn’t really watch Matty’s penalty kick, I turned my back and waited to hear either the cheers or the groans from the crowd and thankfully it was cheers,” said an ecstatic Craig Lingard.
“I said to the guys before they went out that they said Usain Bolt was going to win the 100m final, Mo Farah was going to win the 5000m final and Toronto was going to win today but you don’t win games on paper.
“We’ve ripped that form book up today and over the last few weeks as a team we’ve developed a bit of resilience and determination as a team.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t get the victory but in the end, a draw is just rewards for our efforts.”
The opening stages of the game were on an even keel until the man in the middle ruled that Nathan Conroy had played at a Greg Worthington grubber and wiped the tackle count, allowing Toronto to work the ball across to Jonny Pownall who scored from a lovely Quentin Laulu-Togagae offload.
Cougars took the lead shortly after when Hamish Barnes managed to spot a gap in the Wolfpack’s defensive line and raced through to score.
Lingard will have been overjoyed when Brendon Rawlins showed great vision to get an offload to the wing, where Vinny Finigan had the space and time to stroll in at the corner.
Every 50-50 decision seemed to be going the way of the Wolfpack, however, and it led to their second try after the Cougars were penalised for a suspect challenge in the air.
Richard Whiting broke the line and offloaded at the last moment for Laulu-Togagae to touch down.
Toronto then retook the lead as the try-scorer linked up with Steve Crossley in a break downfield before Blake Wallace’s last-ditch offload attempt was nearly fumbled by Liam Kay, but the winger just managed to get over the line.
Whiting, who had earlier provided an assist, then grabbed a try for himself when he crashed over from close range after Ritchie Hawkyard had superbly held Wallace up over the line moments earlier.
Keighley refused to go down without a fight though, and showed their resilience with a strong opening to the second half.
After Beharrell was wrongly penalised for offside, justice was served as Adam Brook broke the line and put Hawkyard home underneath the uprights.
The Cougars’ onslaught was halted when Pownall intercepted an Adam Ryder pass and raced 80 metres before a forward pass from Whiting was missed by the officials in the build-up to Worthington touching down.
Finigan then made it ‘squeaky bum’ time for the visitors as from a Ryder pass, he faced Laulu-Togagae one on one and opted to bend the ball round him with the boot before racing around to ground and close the gap to just two points.
The Wolfpack were then penalised for offside, Beharrell coolly slotting the ball over from 40 metres out to keep Cougars in the hunt for a top-five play-off place.