North Wales Crusaders 28 Keighley Cougars 24

CRAIG Lingard believes a poor attitude led to Cougars' Challenge Cup exit as they squandered an 18-point interval lead at North Wales Crusaders.

Keighley led 24-6 at half-time but, in a game of two halves, conceded 22 unanswered points after the break to fall out at the first hurdle.

“The attitude in the second half brought us that defeat,” said head coach Lingard.

“There isn’t any game you should be losing when you’re 18 points up at half-time and I took the lads back to the previous week against Workington, when we were three scores up, to see if we’d learnt from the start of that second half and obviously we haven’t.

“I’ve spoken to the lads about their attitude and their professionalism because if you show up to a game against anybody and don’t give your all for 80 minutes then you’re going to get spanked.”

Cougars prop Scott Law received a yellow card early in the second period but Lingard refused to blame that for his side's collapse.

He said: “We started to self-destruct before the Scott Law sin-binning and that was just one of the things that compounded our demise. It doesn’t help having to play with 12 men and we had to deal with it and manage it better than we did.

“It’s a bit of a cliché to say we can look forward to the league now. Not dropping any league points is the only positive to come out of the game.

“We came in at half-time and thought we had the game won and didn’t need to work hard in that second half and if you don’t work hard then you get exactly what you deserve and that’s what we got.”

Cougars opened the scoring when a short pass from Benn Hardcastle freed Brendon Rawlins and the veteran forward managed to get his outstretched arm over the line.

The home side drew level through a Keighley handling error as Steven Roper weaved through and managed to get over, despite the best efforts of Ritchie Hawkyard.

Lingard's side then began to turn the screw and raced clear with two quick-fire tries, the first seeing Rawlins seal a brace after powering his way over from a Hardcastle pass.

A Hardcastle kick then caused Gavin Conroy problems and the Cougars chase proved beneficial as Josh Tonks punished the error to score.

Then on the brink of half-time, Harvey Hallas – who showed great promise after coming on from the interchanges bench – pulled off a superb offload out of the tackle to Hawkyard, who raced to the line.

The half came to an end with the two sides exchanging handbags after North Wales forward Brad Brennan didn’t take too kindly to being forced into an error.

The Crusaders came out for the second half the better of the two teams and scored when Jack Houghton broke the Cougars line and showed great determination to find his way to the end zone.

Law was then sent to the sin-bin for Keighley after being judged to have committed a professional foul by the match official.

From the resulting penalty, Simon Atherton powered his way over underneath the uprights.

Atherton then scored his second try to bring the hosts within four points as he shrugged off the Cougars left-edge defence to touch down.

The visitors thought they had opened up some breathing space as Harry Aaronson dived over but the touch judge ruled that Hamish Barnes' pass was forward.

The Crusaders then took the lead for the first time as Atherton completed his hat-trick from a scrum after a knock on from Hawkyard.

Johnson sealed the home side's victory with a penalty kick on the full-time hooter.


COUGARS: Hawkyard 6; Aaronson 5; Barnes 6; Ryder 5; Gabriel 5; Hardcastle 7; Beharrell 5; Tahraoui 5; Conroy 5; Bailey 5; Rawlins 7; Tonks 5; Emmett 5. Subs: Law 5; Wright 5; Hallas 6; Nicholson 5.

CRUSADERS: Johnson 6; Price 5; Atherton 8; Beckett 6; Conroy 5; Roper 7; Sheen 5; Davidson 5; Hudson 6; Walker 5; Houghton 6; Case 5; Millington 5. Subs: Bate 5; Moore 5; Brennan 6; Trumper 5.