Cougars Under 20s 16 Leigh Centurions U20s 48
As the Cougars gathered in the post match huddle to do t their cool down routines and listen to Coach Dean Muir pass on his final words of the evening , he was joined by the figure of Cougars First Team Coach Paul March who made his way quietly from the stands to the huddle to talk to personally each of the 17 lads in the red white and green.It was a gesture probably misssed by most of the spectators but one that showed the pride of March in the spririted fight back of the Keighley youngsters to ‘win’ the second half against a strong Leigh Team who had lead 34-0 at the half time break.
The Centurions have been pretty much unstoppable this season dominating a competition that has highlighted the failings in the current reserves/ 20’s system with clubs unsure about the strengths/ ages / experience of teams they will face from week to week, very much highlighted by Leigh starting the game with their recent signing from Hull KR Jonny Walker on the field and he was joined by fellow Prop Tom Spencer on dual reg from Wigan Warriors .
Whatever the reputation of the Leigh team , it was Keighley who began firing on all cylinders , with even a couple of cynical hits on home half Backs Stead and Coe not affecting the team ,both were floored late in separate incidents in the first 10 mins . Ross Peltier (right v Widnes) and Ryan Patchett took the game to Leigh marauding down the middle and Keighley were unlucky to not not to take an early lead as Hooker Dan Gregory was help up over the line .
It was Gregory’s Leigh counterpart Holmes who broke the deadlock , the wily number nine dummying his way over the line and further misery followed for the Cougars when an awkward bounce from a kick bamboozled the home defence allowing Antony Bate to score . Worse was to come when the Leigh Props combined Spencer setting up Walker from close range .Impressive back Josh Ward converted two to give Leigh a 16-0
Keighley looked to have got themeselves on the score sheet ,with the initial build up coming off the back of a wonderful Coe kick off that forced the drop out . The ball was worked through the forwards and half backs but the final pass went to ground with the try line open. Leigh then turned the screw in the 10 mins to half time , Hankinson, Tracy and Pownell adding tries and Pemberton adding the conversions for a 34-0 half time advantage .
The Cougars began the second half looking a completely different animal from that that had finished the first 40 making a confident start pressing the Leigh Line , with Chris Watson and Charlie Ecclestone particularly effective and Liam Darville proving a constant threat from the full back role. Ben Steads perfectly weighted chip over the defensive line nearly made the breakthrough being cleared at the last second by the away defence , but the Cougars broke their duck when Liam Coe intercepted on his own 40 meter line and out paced the defence , Steads touchline conversation missing by a whisker.
By now the tide was beginning to change ,as it was Leigh who who were failing to complete their sets and were coming up with handling errors ,and when they did complete ,met a solid Keighley defence , Andy Gabriel impressing with some superb cover tacking to protect his wing.
Even the crowd had their moments , diving for cover as a Stead kick for touch managed to take out the Club’s sky dish on top of the Bar Complex , scattering debris onto the terraces and killing the Clubs TV service stone dead (much to the annoyance of certain club staff denied their soaps !)
Sub Aaron Levey (right) then stepped up for his moment of glory , his inital break away had given the Cougars good field position and the second rower was on hand to finish off the move courtesy of a Darville pass , Stead duly adding the extras .
It was then the turn of another of the Cougars Rookie Forwards to make his name , 17 year old Jack Kennedy crashing over for his four pointer . Another touchline effort from Stead completed the Cougars scoring.
A final Leigh try from Bate ,his second of the night rounded up proceedings but the second half belonged to the plucky Cougars .
Cougars Tries- Coe, Levy, Kennedy Goals Stead (2)
Cougars MOM – Liam Darville
Team 1.Liam Darville 2.Jake Parkinson 3.Jordan Truelove 4.Kuke Moorby 5.Andy Gabriel 6. Liam Coe 7. Ben Stead 8. Ryan Patchett 9.Dan Gregory 10. Ross Peltier 11.Chris Watson 12. Lewis Graham 13.Charlie Eccleston
14.George Kinnard 15.Jack Kennedy 16.Henry Walker 17. Aaron Levy