Doncaster RL 24-32 Keighley Cougars Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)
COUGARS began their Super Eights campaign in League One with a well-deserved victory to close the gap on Doncaster to three points.
“This victory is massively important as we knew if Doncaster get the victory, the gap goes to seven points and its season over,” said Craig Lingard.
“We had identified that this first game was massive in terms of starting to claw some points back on the top five.
“We know that Doncaster have a big pack and it can be strength but it can also be a weakness and with big men, the lateral movement is pretty poor.
“We knew if we got the quick rucks and our outside backs and hookers came in and scooted we would cause some damage and that’s certainly what we did in the first half.
“It shows the willingness and determination in the side also that we had to play 35 minutes of the second half with just 15 men and we know move onto face York this Sunday.”
Despite a strong Keighley start, Doncaster opened the scoring in the eighth minute as, in their first attacking set, Reece Dean broke through a gap in the line and offloaded to put Ryan Jones in at the corner.
Keighley were quick to take the lead though as Nathan Conroy skipped through and showed great awareness to draw the full back in to set Matthew Bailey free to dive over next to the posts.
Cougars’ next try was through quick play after former Keighley player Charlie Martin failed to contain the returning Scott Law on the floor. Law got the quick play-the-ball to Conroy, who sent Bailey crashing over from close range for his second.
Lingard’s side were the dominant force in the first half, restricting Doncaster to spend the majority of it in their own territory.
The visitors extended their lead as Andy Gabriel showed great strength and awareness to avoid touch and squeeze over.
They boosted it further when Gabriel managed to get the ball free to Adam Ryder and the centre raced 60 metres through to the line.
Doncaster had the final say of the half, however, as Kieran Cross managed to fend off a tackler to touch down as the hooter sounded.
After a tense opening to the second half, the visitors got the all-important first score as Brendon Rawlins avoided a wild dive from Martin before throwing a shimmy and going 40 metres to score a superb solo effort.
The home side added to their tally when, from a scrum given for offside, the Cougars switched off momentarily and Liam Welham took advantage to race round behind the uprights unchallenged.
And Richard Horne’s men got back into the game through great work down the left wing as Sam Doherty got over despite the best efforts of Davey Dixon to deny him.
Josh Lynam, who was making his 100th appearance for Cougars, was sin-binned following the afters that followed Doherty’s try but Keighley kept a shutout in his absence.
They extended their lead following his return as Matty Beharrell took the two points on offer after the Dons were penalised for offside.
Doncaster had the final say as the hooter sounded when Nick Rawsthorne scored after a break but Keighley’s victory puts them right back in the top-five play-off race.