Keighley Cougars 24-30 Whitehaven Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)
KEIGHLEY Cougars fell to an agonising Betfred League One home defeat to Whitehaven, despite a second-half surge that should have seen them take a share of the spoils.
In truth, a sloppy start by the Cougars which allowed their visitors to notch an 18-point lead after just 11 minutes proved the difference.
And it was that sloppy start that left the hosts chasing the game from the start much to the frustration of Craig Lingard.
“It’s gutting to not get the draw but we put ourselves in the position we were in with our start to both halves,” bemoaned the Cougars Head Coach.
“We were 18 points down after less than 15 minutes in the first-half but we saw against Oldham that against the good teams in the division in particular that it’s a massive mountain to climb.
“We panicked and tried to score of every play and started to play the scoreboard rather than the game despite it being only 15 minutes in.
“We’re chasing the game and doing things that we don’t practice in training, we practice building pressure and field position and earning the right to score tries and get the ball in the right positions on the field.
“It’s really disappointing that we keep putting ourselves in these positions and we tried to correct it at half-time but we got caught cold again.
“And in the last 20 to 30 minutes of each half we were really on top of Whitehaven and were the more energised and enthused team but it’s that first 10 to 15 minutes in each half that we really need to get out of our game.”
Haven broke the deadlock when a clever reverse kick underneath the uprights from Dion Aiye was pounced on by Dan Abram.
Abram then went solo for his and his side’s second try, spotting a gap in the Cougars defence and cutting in to race to the line.
Whitehaven player-coach Carl Forster then set Jason Mossop racing down the slope, with the centre unselfishly sending the pass to Aiye, who dived over from close range.
Following the pass to start the move, Forster’s afternoon was ended by a late shot that left Cougars centre Perry Whiteley on report.
The Cougars then got themselves back into the game as Josh Lynam showed great determination to break through two attempted tackles and get over the line.
Matty Beharrell then made it a six-point game as he raced 40 metres to cross after Nathan Conroy’s superb delayed short pass.
Haven opened up an eight-point lead at the break though as Abram converted after Keighley were penalised for ripping the ball.
Whitehaven started the second half brightly and scored two tries, the first coming as Danny Green pounced on a Callum Phillips grubber in the corner.
Josh Eaves then burrowed his way over from short range for what would prove the match-winning score as the Cougars clawed their way back to the game.
The comeback appeared to be on as Whiteley kept the ball alive in a frantic passage of play and sent Harry Aaronson scrambling over in the corner.
Cameron Leeming then stretched his arm over the line for his first try for the club to set up a grandstand finish that seemed to bring the Cougar Park faithful to life.
Whitehaven were rocking and it led to Aiye joining Whiteley on report after a late shot in a desperate attempt to stop a Keighley break.
Abram missed a penalty conversion to seal the points but the Cougars threw away a potential draw with sloppy play near to the line.