Keighley Cougars 18-30 North Wales Crusaders Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport) in association with A1 Stairlifts.
A last gasp penalty from Danny Jones rescued a bonus point for the Keighley Cougars after a lacklustre display against already relegated North Wales Crusaders.
The visitors looked the better side from the off at Cougar Park and took the lead with less than a minute on the clock after the left hand channel was caught napping and Scott Turner found Stephen Wild to run in under the posts.
A shell shocked home side conceded another two tries in quick succession. First, a Mick Govin grubber was spilled by Richie Barnett allowing Rob Massam an easy score in the corner before Cougars left hand channel was caught cold again as Scott Turner touched down.
Paul White did put Keighley on the scoreboard when after a quick pass out wide by James Haley, the top try-scorer grabbed number twenty-three for the campaign.
But, North Wales had a twenty point advantage as the sides headed to the sheds when the big man Jono Smith proved too hot to handle and after breaking an Olly Pursglove challenge, offloaded to Toby Adamson who scored between the sticks.
Following the game, Cougars Player-Coach Paul March believed the first half collapse was the catalyst for defeat:
“We shot ourselves in the foot and didn’t turn up for the first forty and were 24-4 down. We have come back from this sort of deficit before but we came up against a side playing with a lot of pride and we’ve got to keep fighting in the last two games as we need a point to make sure we’re in this division next season.”
Half time came at the wrong time for the men from Wrexham and they found out why when from the first set of the second half they conceded a penalty and from the tap, Welsh international Jones threw a dummy to create a gap just big enough to squeeze through.
Controversy followed, from the restart and successive penalties the Cougars broke through and Olly Pursglove raced to the line and managed to get the ball down on the whitewash but somehow the match official and linesman missed this and ruled for a play the ball.
But quick thinking from Jones broke down a stubborn North Wales pack once again minutes later when from a penalty, the stand-off found Josh Lynam and sent the young second rower racing in to get behind the upright.
Things grew feisty in the minutes that followed with James Haley and Rob Massam repeatedly coming to near blows, as did Andy Shickell and opposite number Seb Martins as Paul March’s side looked to close the gap to two points.
Then, the bonus point appeared to slip out of the home team’s grasp as with minutes remaining on the clock, Smith’s fantastic performance for the Crusaders got a reward as he took a pass from Jamie Dallimore and left four defenders on their backsides to get in for a try.
The hooter sounded and neither side was finished as Dallimore hit the post with a drop goal attempt straight from a penalty and from the breakaway, Paul White won a penalty forty metres out after being tackled without the ball.
March called for the two points despite visiting protests for the full time whistle and despite the best efforts of the wind to keep the ball off the tee, Jones somehow managed to get the ball over the bar to rescue a bonus point and in the process, effectively secure survival.
YORKSHIRE TIMES MAN OF THE MATCH – Danny Jones – The few things which went right on the day for the Cougars came as a result of the Welshman’s quick thinking. His quick tap and dummy allowed him to get over for a try before similar thinking sent Josh Lynam over for his score. He became the hero of the hour with his post hooter penalty which rescued a bonus point and left the Cougars needing a point to confirm survival.
COUGARS: Craven, Barnett, Lawton, Haley, White, Jones, Handforth, Shickell, Feather, Hesketh, Lynam, Pursglove, Lindsay. Interchanges (All Used): Cosgrove, March, Jode Sheriffe, Cherryholme.
CRUSADERS: Johnson, Turner, Wilde, Reardon, Massam, Govin, Dallimore, Adamson, Ashall, Martins, Gee, Wild, Middlehurst. Interchanges (All Used): Roets, Smith, Hudson, Duffy.