It was a step into the unknown for Dean Muir’s Under 20’s team as they undertook the long trip down to South Wales to take on a Scorpion’s side who are in their maiden season at reserve team level .The picturesque Taff Wells Rugby Union Ground , hosting it first RL game for seven years provided a perfect back drop to a hard fought but ultimately satisfying 38-10 victory for the Young Cougars against a determined and well organized home team .
Muirs team selection was dealt a blow with the loss of influential forwards Ryan Patchett and Josh Lynham , both promoted to the Cougars first team squad for Sunday’s Northern Rail Clash , seventeen year old Aaron Levy instead coming in for his starting debut in the second row and Martyn Broadley replacing Prop Patchett..
Jack Copperwaite gave the visitors the perfect start on four mins , the experienced centre using his strength to wrestle off two defenders to stretch out and touchdown , Ben Stead giving the Cougars a 6-0 advantage with his well struck conversion from 30 meters out.
However the Cougars lead proved to be short lived as South Wales hit back , a kick through gave them good field position and the ball was worked across to the onrushing CJ Collin to score with ease .
Keighley’s problems were further compounded as Scorpions Prop Reece Fitzgerald barged his way through several would tacklers to touch down within easy range for Levi Knowles to convert, handing them a 10-6 advantage and the Cougars continued to be their own worse enemy becoming frustrated as wayward passes and unforced handling errors squandering possession as they battled to regain their advantage .
Centre Copperrwaite along with Props Courtney and Hutchinson took the fight to the Scorpions and it was Copperwaites offload in the tackle to Luke Whitely that fired the Cougar fight back. Steads high bomb from the play the ball was dropped by the Scorpion’s defence on their own twenty to give Cougars vital field position . After several sets camped on the Scorpion’s line , a scoot from Stead was backed up by Chapman ,who fed the supporting Aaron Nicholson to go in under the sticks giving Stead an easy conversion.
The try saw the first major involvement of the influential Chapman (pictured) after his introduction from the bench and the hooker (who ironically is looking to gain International Student Honours for Wales ) set up the next score again, breaking in open play and off loading to the supporting Jordan Atchison, Steads conversion giving the Cougars an 10-18 advantage at the break
Muir’s half time team talk obviously had an impact as Keighley came out firing on all cylinders with youngster Dan Connell coming off the bench to great effect. A last ditch tackle from Tom Courtney saw the Scorpions lose their winger with a suspected broken ankle but sadly for Keighley the outstanding Courtney become a victim of injury himself shortly afterwards , with a knee problem forcing him out of the game .
Cougars went further ahead when Charlie Ecclestone burst onto a well timed pass from Stead , the loose forward skillfully outstepping the onrushing full back on his way to the line .
As the Scorpions began to tire the Cougars stepped up their game to finish the game with a flourish. A Stead 40-20 gave possession on the home 20 to Keighley and Atchison and Akrigg combined to send Rob Hawthorne over .
Sub Winger Akrigg had his moment of glory denied soon after when the Scorpions ripped out the ball as he was in the act of touching down but from the resultant penalty the ball was shipped across the park in a great passing move which resulted in the try of the game ,fast hands giving Copperwaite the space to add an easy second ,converted again by the ever reliable Stead.
Final try went to a great individual effort from Jordan Atchison , he broke away at pace from inside his own half out pacing a tiring defence and the final two points of the game were added from Steads boot.
Despite the final score line of 38-10 to the Cougars , the Scorpions contributed massively to an entertaining game and never threw in the towel ,highlighted in the dying minutes of the match as Atchison once again broke away,only to be felled by the tackle of the game inches from the line from outstanding home full back Leyshon.
Cougars Coach Dean Muir said of his sides performance ‘ We are ever improving as a team and if we put an eighty minute performance together I can see some team getting a real humbling. We’ve really been working ,off the field, in the past few weeks to come together as a team , this has obviously had an effect as the spirit within the squad is high.’
Team 1.Luke Moorby 2. AndyWalker 3.Rob Hawthorne 4.Jack Copperwaite 5.Luke Whitely 6.Jordan Atchison 7.Ben Stead 8.Martyn Broadley 9.Sean Kelly 10. Tom Courtney 11.Aaron Nicholson 12.Aaron Levy 13.Charlie Ecclestone 14.Llwellyn Chapman 15.Dan Connell 16.Ash Hutchinson 17.Kyle Akrigg
The Under 20’s Next Home Game takes place this Thursday coming when they take on the current League Leaders Featherstone Rovers U20’s ( 7.45pm kick off )