‘It’s all about winning rather than the performance ‘was Head Coach Paul March’s comment in the build up to this match and never a truer word was spoken . A Paul White hat trick (right) helped Keighley to the vital three league points but it was dour stuff at Sedgley Park , dominated by errors from both sides and an inauspicious end to Swintons time in the Championship ,the defeat confirming their relegation.
In the see saw battle to avoid the bottom five , Batley (against Leigh) and Whitehaven’s (v Workington) defeats saw those clubs move further to the danger zone whilst the Cougars move up to eighth and in a play off postion. ‘Our performance wasn’t the best’ said March in his post match comments ‘and we let our foot off the gas’ . They came back at us but we had enough to hold out and take the points .We will need to be doing the same next week against Barrow as another three points will be vital to us as league positions are so tight’
In front of paltry 360 crowd it was Swinton who struck first after only two mins , Darren Hawkyard exploiting a massive gap in the Cougar defence and his pass put in the supporting Martin Ainscough, Mick Nanyn was not able to land the conversion.
A Lions knock on gave Cougars possession on five mins, and the ball was worked out wide , March’s pass putting in Ritchie Barnett to level things up , Jones not landing the conversion.
After more end to end stuff , the Lions threw out a pass that was never going to make its target , James Haley was alive to the situation intercepting and he broke clear , White finishing off to score his first of the game , Jones again off target to add the extras.
With Shickell , Rawlins and Lynam running strongly the Cougars were looking the better side and Lynam , the rookie second rower made a break that lead to the Lions dropping out under the posts . Cougars kept on the pressure and forced a second drop out that lead to Whites second . Handforths floated kick to the corner being plucked out of the air and touched down by the winger .
Despite some errors ,with a score of 4-12 in favour of the visitors at theBreak , March’s side looked to be on target for those vital league points and after a melee of fisticuffs on the 47 mins when Lions winger Kevin Penny reacted to what he perceived to be some rough treatment in the tackle , White duly completed his hat- trick . The penalty was awarded the Cougars way and the ball was worked across for White to touch down , Danny Jones again not being able to add the two on a day with the boot that Jones, moved into the full back role in place of the injured James Craven, will probably want to forget.
With sub forwards Scott Law and Neil Cherryholme making some hard yards down the middle for Keighley and Mike Morrison impressing for the Lions both sides were determined to be the next on the score sheet and it was the Lions who came up with the goods , Ed Barber going in off a Hawkyard pass after a Cougars handling error had surrendered possession , Nanyn adding the games only successful conversion.
With a 16-10 scoreline and a frenetic end to the game looked to be in store , the Lions threw everything at the Cougars but couldn’t make the whitewash and the game was effectively sealed for Keighley five mins from the hooter , when Tiger Handforth showed all his experience to slot over a valuable drop goal and seal the Cougars victory . A break from the dangerous Penny in the dying seconds gave the home team some slim hopes of salvaging something from the game but the ball was dropped and their final chance gone .
14 Paul March 2 Ritchie Barnett 19 Danny Lawton 4 James Haley 6 Paul White 6 Danny Jones 7 Paul Handforth 8 Andy Shickell 9 Buster Feather 10 Sean Hesketh 11 Josh Lynam 13 Ash Lindsay subs 34 Luke Haigh 18 Neil Cherryholme 15 Scott Law 16 Jode Sheriffe
Tries- Barnett , White (3) Drop Goal- Handforth