Keighley 13 Wheatley Hills 17

Keighley came close to a significant victory over high-flying Doncaster side Wheatley Hills.

Back in September they had conceded 47 points in a heavy defeat on the visitors’ ground but last Saturday they built up a half-time lead of 13-0 with a confident, aggressive and often skilful performance, which should have heralded victory against the second-placed side.

An early penalty goal miss by Alex Brown failed to dent Keighley’s enthusiasm, as they rocked the visitors with some powerful forward play, spearheaded by Scott Dyson.

A successful penalty attempt by Brown after 15 minutes of play was just reward for their all-round superiority.

It was a full 20 minutes before Wheatley Hills launched a meaningful attack but firm tackling by centre pairing Ben Blackwell and Marco Ferrazzano eliminated the threat.

Keighley struck back with a strong run by Dyson, which led to Blackwell being held at the line and, as the forwards maintained pressure, fit-again Leigh Sugden came close to scoring.

Finally the pressure was rewarded when second row Bob Clarke forced his way over for a rare but much-deserved try.

More creative play by Keighley enabled them to maintain the initiative, even though they were guilty at times of failing to exploit potential overlaps.

A strong burst by the evergreen Paul Sinfield set up another attack. Dyson injected pace and full back Harry Titley squeezed in at the corner for a fine try.

The visitors began the second half in more determined fashion, quickly establishing a foothold close to the home line. For several minutes Keighley’s forwards defended heroically but finally the siege was broken when prop Pat O’Donovan barged over with full back Jonny Woodcock converting.

Suddenly Keighley’s lead looked vulnerable. Hills sensed victory and with a monopoly of possession, and prompted by some elusive running by their backs, they tested the Keighley defence.

With wily ex-England scrum half Dave Scully masterminding the tactics, play was largely concentrated in the Keighley half.

The loss of hooker Will Armitage to the sin-bin was a bridge too far for the resolute Keighley pack, which understandably began to tire.

It allowed the visitors to mount a sweeping attack, culminating in ex-Doncaster prop Ngalu Tau crashing over, Woodcock’s conversion giving Wheatley the lead. There was no way back for Keighley. Tiredness led to the concession of frequent penalty awards, which prevented them from establishing any sort of attacking base in the visitors’ half.

It was left to the away side to seal victory with a last-minute penalty by Woodcock.

KEIGHLEY TEAMS FOR SATURDAY 1st XV v OLD CROSSLEYANS (North One East) HOME, KO 2:15pm, meet 12:45pm. From: H Titley, S Walker, B Blackwell, M Ferrazzano, A Sutcliffe, A Brown, L McGee; C Spencer, W Armitage, O Sugden, M Symes, R Clarke, A Waligura, S Inman, S Dyson, P Sinfield, D Iliff, S Minikin, J Hannah, L Sugden.

2nd XV v WHARFEDALE 3rds (Yorkshire Championship) AWAY KO 2:15pm, meet 12:15pm (cars). From: M Finn, M Phillips, A Horsfall, B Atkinson, Jim Atkinson, J Morton, R Wilkinson, A Ebbrell, J Hill; S Heal, S Mellor, C Morris, M Stott, S Long, S Welch, S Brown, C Dyson, J Walker, L Carter, A N Other.

3rd XV v BAILDON 2nds (Aire-Wharfe West Div Two) AWAY KO 2:15pm, meet 12:15pm (cars). From: D Mitton, R Lacey, A Gilmartin, J Tillotson, T Vambe, W Bogle, P Hands, R Bayfield, J Rawnsley, P Schofield, J Antenbring, M Calvert, N Ohara, K Bottomley, R Lloyd, N Curr, P Salmon, B Tomlinson, W Knowles, J Lowther, S Everett. C Graham, D Pullen, W Morton.