Keighley Cougars 34-20 Leigh Centurions – Under 20’s Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@Chapalar)
Following Saturday’s 98-0 thumping off the South Wales Scorpions down at Cougar Park, Dean Muir’s young Cougars found themselves with another home fixture on this Thursday evening as they played host to the Leigh Centurions, the side above them in the table.
The Cougars got off to the worst possible start when Mick Govin’s kick out bounced out from kick off and from the resulting goal line dropout, Centurions scrum half Matt Pendlebury found his way over the line for the opening try of the game. Mick Govin then added the extras to put Deano’s side on the back foot.
Things didn’t get any better as a series of defensive errors cumulalated in a Mick Govin kick being misjudged by Jesse Sheriffe allowing Matt Pendlebury to break and offload to Cameron Pitman to go in for the Centurions underneath the posts. Mick Govin then added the extras again with ease.
Dean Muir and the Cougars then thought they were in for their opening try with standoff Jordan Aitchison being held up over the line; Ryan Patchett was held short off the line before a wild offload from Kyle Akrigg was intercepted by Matt Pendlebury.
A fantastic chase from the kick ensued Leigh had no time to breathe from the Cougars defence and won back to back sets off six after Jordan Aitchison collected the ball after dropping it backwards after the tackle. The Centurions then thought they were in again but Brad Ashurst’s celebrations were cut short for a knock on in the build up.
The Cougars then nearly crossed but Craig Moss was halted by an absolute monster of a try saver by winger Cameron Pitman before a Jesse Sheriffe knock on was punished as the Centurions built momentum from a free play before full back Andrew Cunningham crossed in the corner for the visitors third try off the evening. Mick Govin then missed the conversion horribly.
In typical Dean Muir fashion though, he refused to let the lads drop but this became even harder when Jack Copperwaite was sent for a ten minute stint in the bin after being shown yellow for obstructing the quick tap on the twenty attempted by Cameron Pitman.
Things were getting sloppy by the hosts and heads were starting to get lost after Adam Reardon knocked on from a Jordan Aitchison offload before kicking the ball out play in frustration. The visitors nearly found themselves over again with clever passes by Aaron Llyod and Mick Govin nearly being converted to more points but Joe Bullock knocked on when it seemed easier to score under the posts.
The Centurions then started giving away unessecary penalties in the host’s advantage especially when four players were ruled offside whilst tackling Tom Courtney before Charlie Eccleston was held up over the line. The Cougars then nearly got over for a Ben Stead bomb into the air but James Hill beat Ethan Hawksworth to the ball in the air.
The Cougars then injected some pace into their play when Charlie Eccleston broke the line before offloading to Matt Bailey, making his first appearance since breaking his leg in pre season at Barrow, who knocked on but fortunately for the Cougars, the referee pulled play back sixty metres for the original Centurions knock on.
The Cougars took advantage of this when a Centurions mistake from the kick on the last allowed Adam Reardon to flick the ball into the air into the hands of Jesse Sheriffe who went over in the corner. Ben Stead then put in an awesome conversion to reduce the gap between the sides to ten points. The Centurions nearly opened the gap back up but Andrew Cunningham’s try from a James Hill grubber was ruled out for a knock on by the full back before Matt Bailey was trapped in goal from a poor scrum.
Cougars got the second half underway and were the first over the whitewash in the second forty when some clever play once again created by Ben Stead saw the ball find its way to Tom Courtney who found his way over through a gap in the Leigh defence. Scrum Half Stead then added the extras.
Leigh didn’t know what to do with the rejuvenated Cougars outfit and were nearly caught out by an awkward bounce following a Ben Stead kick saw Andrew Cunningham chasing before running into the arms of the oncoming Ethan Hawksworth. The Cougars then found their way over to bring the game level when Charlie Eccleston fought his way over before Ben Stead added the extras to give Dean Muir’s young side the lead for the first time in the game.
The Cougars were caught on from the next Leigh set though as a Mick Govin kick was spilled by Jesse Sheriffe allowing Josh O’ Donnell to chase and collect the ball before fighting his way over the Cougars tryline to restore the visitors lead. Mick Govin then missed the conversion.
But before even touching the ball from the restart, Leigh had to kick from under their own sticks when a clever bobbling kick off by Ben Stead found its way along the Cougar Park pitch and into touch. The visitors held strong by Adam Higson was nearly dragged back into touch by the solid Cougars defence.
The heavens then opened at Cougar Park which usually means a fast flowing open game would be allowed to be introduced and this was the case despite the whistle blower missing numerous knock ons by the Centurions outfit much to the dismay of the crowd gathered down Lawkholme Lane.
The refereeing performance was bordering on ridiculous with dangerous late challenges going unpunished but the Cougars were keeping the visitors at bay especially forcing silly errors from them but were nearly punished themselves as James Hill nearly fought his way over the try line.
But, a sloppy pass Matt Pendlebury allowed the Cougars to regain possession and work their way down the slope on the pitch at Cougar Park. The Cougars then won a penalty but instead of taking the two to bring the game level, Ben Stead opted for a tap as he saw that Leigh were starting to get shaky defensive wise.
The Cougars then finally broke the Leigh line with Jordan Aitchison throwing a wonderful dummy to race thirty metres before fooling Andrew Cunningham by offloading to Craig Moss with the Welsh international scoring his first try since returning from injury. Ben Stead then added the extras to open up a four point gap between the two sides on show.
The Cougars were then nearly punished as Adam Reardon was fooled by the bounce on a Ben Stead kick before chasing back to send recipient Matt Pendlebury crashing out of play and into touch with a big hit from behind but Leigh got possession back following a Ryan Patchett knock on but then tempers flared with Ryan Patchett and Charlie Eccleston starting fisticuffs with Leigh pair James Hill and Joe Bullock.
Leigh were trying desperately to get back into the game with a set on the Cougars line and must of though their luck was but Josh Ward was halted by a flying ankle tap from opposite number Joe Lumb before another Ben Stead kick along the surface found its way into touch in the far corner of the Cougar Park pitch.
But the Centurions possession from the scrum didn’t last and from a spill by Dan Waddy, a pass from Craig Moss was then swiftly offloaded by Jordan Aitchison to Jack Copperwaite with the hooker finding his way through and over the line to wrap up the game for Dean Muir’s side despite Ben Stead missing his first conversion off the evening.
Charlie Eccleston then brought the game to the close as he took advantage of another Leigh defensive error to race over the try line to bring the game to a close with Ben Stead adding the extras to secure another Cougars victory and deny Leigh the bonus point on offer.
Cougars: Moss, Hawksworth, Akrigg, Copperwaite, Sheriffe, Aitchison, Stead, Reed, Chapman, Patchett, Eccleston, Watson, Reardon. Interchanges: Lumb, Moorby, Courtney, Bailey.
Centurions: Cunningham, Hill, Higson, O’ Donnell, Pitman, Govin, Pendlebury, Waddy, Lloyd, Ashurst, Rowe, Peet, Bullock. Interchanges: Ward, Brehmey, Warburton, Barber