iPro Sport Cup first round: Keighley Cougars 64 East Leeds 0

PAUL March called on his side to make Cougar Park a fortress as they look to book a big day out at Blackpool.

Keighley started their season well by blitzing amateur outfit East Leeds in the opening round of the iPro Sport Cup to set up another home clash against Swinton Lions in the quarter-finals.

Coach March was full of praise following his side’s professional performance but warned that Cougars would have to be on the money against Lions to progress towards the final, which is at Blackpool as part of the Championship’s Summer Bash weekend.

He said: “Swinton are a very strong side who like to throw the ball around and in pre-season they caused us problems with their shape and are very good on the ball with strong runners.

“You’ve only got two more games to go now until you’re in Blackpool and that’s one of our goals. We’ve overcome the first stage and have got to make Cougar Park a fortress at the next hurdle.

“I thought we were professional against East Leeds. Our attitude was first class and we were taking the easy metres throughout the game and we came up with some great tries.

“Ash Lindsay’s first try was possibly the best I’ve seen at Cougar Park since I’ve been here. The skill level was fantastic.

“It says a lot about the team that, even though we were playing amateur opposition, they wanted to keep the high level of standards we set ourselves.

“People expected us to do what we did and, if we had got involved in an arm wrestle, those same people would have said we weren’t any good, so we were on a hiding to nothing.”

Lewis Graham opened the scoring after just four minutes, going over in the corner from a lovely Paul Handforth cross-field kick.

Cougars extended the lead two minutes later when an Olly Pursglove break allowed Rikki Sheriffe to fight his way over the line.

East Leeds steadily built confidence back up but it was shattered when Handforth broke to send Danny Lawton over in the right-hand corner.

And it was that corner which saw more action when Graham dived over for the first of three tries in eight first-half minutes.

Ash Lindsay was the beneficiary of a sensational passage of play two minutes later as the Cougars threatened to run rampant.

After a break by David March, he played a sensational offload out of the back to Jesse Sheriffe who, after a pass exchange with Lindsay, sent the ball out to Danny Jones, whose clever pass over the top sent Lindsay in under the posts.

Handforth grabbed the Cougars’ final try of the opening 40 on the final hooter when his kick came back off an East Leeds leg, allowing the scrum half to squeeze over next to the uprights.

After a quiet start to the second half, Lindsay broke the amateur outfit’s line to go in under the posts and, a minute later, Handforth went over from dummy half for his second try.

Lindsay and Graham both wrapped up their respective hat-tricks within minutes of each other, with the former Batley Bulldog Lindsay battling over from a line break, despite the efforts of East Leeds full back Nathan West.

Graham wrapped up his milestone in similar fashion to his first after he had the freedom of Keighley to touch down after another cross-field Handforth kick.

Paul White completed the rout on the final hooter as he raced over after a clever pass out by March.