St Joseph’s 16 Keighley 20

A Christmas and new-year hangover, plus work commitments, almost helped St Joseph’s to a surprise Pennine League Championship Division win at Fartown but the visitors just held on to go top of the table.

This was never likely to be the best game of rugby after the holiday period and so it proved.

The home side took the lead after Keighley had been penalised for talking back to the referee while in possession of the ball and then being caught offside. The repeat sets took their toll as St Joes scored out wide.

This kick-started the visitors into action as Kriss Gott touched down after a 70-metre run, beating some poor defence.

The hosts responded but could not add more points in the first half. Instead it was Keighley who scored two tries before the break, the first through Shaun Metcalfe following a Chris Price grubber kick into the corner.

This was followed by Danny Barrett crossing under the posts after good running from Joe Copperwaite, Callum Hudson adding the extras.

Keighley dominated after the interval but could not finish plays off until veteran Daz Lynham opened the St Joes line with a signature run-round move with Barrett, sending the hooker over for his second try and Copperwaite converting.

Leading 20-4, Keighley must have thought they had done enough for the win but the hosts hit back to score 12 points late on.

With time running out, Keighley were left hanging on with some desperate defence but they survived to leapfrog leaders West Bowling, who were without a game.

However, Keith Dixon’s troops will have to pick their game up if they want to finish in a promotion spot.

Keighley travel to Birkenshaw in the Pennine Presidents Cup on Saturday.