Middlesbrough 13, Keighley 20
On a bright, sunny day, Keighley made hard work of beating a heavyweight Middlesbrough team in SSE North One East.
The visitors started brightly, with some excellent play from both forwards and backs, and indiscretions from the Middlesbrough defenders gave Keighley’s Alex Brown two easy penalties.
Middlesbrough responded with a rare attack and were rewarded with a long-distance penalty by outside half Simon O’Farrell.
But Keighley responded, excellent approach work from Adam Sutcliffe and Ben Blackwell giving full back Harry Titley the chance to join the line.
He drew a defender and found open-side wing forward Scott Dyson supporting at pace for a try under the posts which Brown converted.
From that point onwards, Keighley saw very little of the ball. Middlesbrough, with their big forwards in fine fettle, kept them pinned in their own 22 and only heroic defending kept them out.
The sheer physicality of the forward play soon took its toll when captain Leigh Sugden was forced to leave the field with a serious shoulder injury.
Within minutes of the second half restart, some superb back play from the McGee brothers and full back Titley gave winger Sutcliffe the chance to use his pace to run 20 metres to score under the posts, Brown again converting.
But once again Keighley were put under sustained pressure and were unable to get out of their half.
Unfortunately they lost their playmaker Danny McGee with a broken arm.
From that point onwards, Keighley appeared rudderless.
What possession they got was kicked aimlessly away, only for Middlebrough to renew their onslaught, and good possession from a series of rucks gave full back Jack Bircham the opportunity to score in the corner.
For the remainder of the game, Keighley did nothing but defend, and what a defence it was, countless attacks through the forwards being repelled.
When Middlesbrough tried to vary their strategy by moving the ball infield, all the backline, especially Marco Ferrazzano, held firm.
With time running out, Middlebrough’s substitute Richard Barker gave them some reward for their efforts with a well-taken try wide out.
Although Middlesbrough battled to the final whistle, they had to be content with a deserved losing bonus point.