Whitehaven 28 Cougars 22

THE Cougars' hopes off a top-eight League One finish are now clinging by a thread after a narrow loss at in-form Whitehaven.

A second-half spell marred by indiscipline saw Craig Lingard's side concede three tries which condemned them to defeat.

The Cougars got off to the worst possible start as Whitehaven broke the deadlock in just the third minute when powerful forward Dion Aiye broke through a tackle and raced to the line.

Aiden Worthington then had an effort disallowed for offside from the kick.

The visitors drew level through Adam Brook, who – after great work from Josh Tonks and James Feather – threw a lovely dummy to create the space that allowed him to shimmy through and dive over.

Hamish Barnes was then unlucky to not give Keighley the lead as he was dragged into touch by Jesse Joe Parker after Matty Beharrell's kick to the corner was missed by the opposing wingers.

They did take the lead, however, with their next attacking set as the ball was fed to Brad Nicholson and the prop powered over from close range.

The half finished with a somewhat unsavoury incident as players from both sides exchanged handbags after Barnes was punished for a high tackle, despite only landing on Craig Calvert's head and not making contact during the initial challenge.

Whitehaven drew level from the very first set in the second half as Dave Thompson outjumped Andy Gabriel in the air from the kick before racing over.

But roles were soon reversed as Keighley regained the lead after Thompson failed to deal with a Beharrell grubber and Gabriel pounced in the corner.

Carl Forster's side took the lead again following a period of Cougars ill-discipline as Nicholson played at a Steve Roper kick and the half-back was quick to pounce on the free play.

Then, after being placed on a team warning, Aiye put a grubber through the defensive line on the last tackle and full-back Jordan Burns was quickest to pounce for the try.

The hosts extended their lead further when the Cougars failed to deal with a kick on the last and Whitehaven kept the ball alive through a number of hands before Worthington was sent racing behind the uprights.

James Feather's try five minutes from time threatened a comeback as he buried over from close range but, as against York, it proved too late.