Keighley Cougars 45-26 London Skolars Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)
THE Cougars got their top-eight hopes back on track to move three points clear of their visitors in League One.
Defeat to Newcastle Thunder the previous week meant this clash was must-win for Keighley against a London side who were just a point behind them before kick-off.
“We just needed to be smarter and when we went 14 points up in the first half we should have closed the game out then but we didn’t and allowed London back into it,” said Craig Lingard.
“I’m pleased we learnt our lesson because when you get a team on the ropes you’ve got to knock them out and we got the lead because we controlled possession well and defended well.
“When you’re playing in this heat if you don’t control possession then unfortunately you’ll concede points and that’s what happened to us in the first half.
“We learnt our lesson from the first half though and we got 14 poinits in front again and put our foot down.”
Keighley got off to a flying start as they raced into a 14-0 lead after just a quarter of an hour.
They opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Harry Aaronson kept the ball alive before putting a grubber kick across to the corner for Davey Dixon to pounce
Matthew Bailey marauded over from close range as the Skolars line failed to withstand the pressure being put on it, Mike Emmett creating the space with a lovely short pass.
Aaronson then put in a contender for try of the season as, after thwarting a 40/20 attempt on the right edge, he cut inside across the width of the field before a lovely show and go allowed him to break the Skolars line and race 80 metres to score.
A Hamish Barnes effort was then ruled out for offside and the Skolars took advantage to turn the game on its head.
From the resulting penalty, Dave Williams fended off a would-be tackler to race round and touch down beneath the uprights.
Billy Driver then scored a quick brace of tries, the first of which came about as he showed quick footwork to weave through a number of Cougars players to dive over.
His second was more simple as he touched down a loose ball on the free play after Aaronson had knocked it out of his hand in a tackle attempt.
Keighley kicked it up a gear in the second half, first retaking the lead when Emmett marked his 200th career appearance by taking the pass from the play the ball from Nathan Conroy.
This came after a controversial moment in which Adam Ryder grounded the ball but the officials ruled that Andy Gabriel had been in an offside position to the bemusement of both sides.
Dixon sealed his own brace after great work from Emmerson Whittel – and then Aaronson allowed the winger to dummy round behind the posts.
The Cougars then put the game out of London’s reach as Andy Gabriel broke the line and looked up to pass and send Matty Beharrell cruising over.
James Feather added his name to the scoreboard, squeezing over to complete a superb flowing move down the Cougar Park slope.
Lamont Bryan registered the Skolars’ first points of the half as he battled his way over to stretch an arm over the whitewash.
A Beharrell drop goal extended the lead further before Conroy scored after great work from Brad Nicholson to break the London line and race through.
Michael Brown had the final say as he scored in the corner on the hooter for the capital outfit.