Keighley Cougars 42 University of Gloucestershire All Golds 18

COUGARS moved to the summit of Kingstone Press League One for the first time this season - but failed to impress head coach Paul March.

Keighley were made to work hard for the victory by a spirited All Golds side and March admitted his side underperformed, though singled out two players for praise.

He said: “We won the game comfortably in the end but we’ve got standards at this club and we were way below them.

“Brendon Rawlins and John Oakes for me were outstanding throughout. They carried the ball well and ran it hard and fast into the All Golds line.

“We knew it was going to be a physical encounter and those two particularly wanted to take it to them. "They showed all day that they will just carry the ball in the attack and do their upmost in defence also."

Despite being under pressure during the opening ten minutes, Cougars broke the deadlock when, after a cross-field move, Hamish Barnes went over from Ritchie Hawkyard’s pass.

Gloucestershire’s tag of the best southern side in the division was clearly showing as they threatened Keighley in attack, so it came as no surprise when Jimmy Rowland, on debut after joining from Swinton in the week, burrowed over from close range.

And the All Golds took the lead shortly after the quarter-mark when Rowland broke through and evaded three would-be tacklers to get the offload to Brad Kislingbury, who crashed over the line.

March’s side retook the lead in the 26th minute after Cougars had been awarded a dubious penalty for stealing in the tackle. Hawkyard got a no-look offload away to Charlie Martin, who threw a dummy before diving over in the corner.

Cougars could sense blood and extended the lead shortly after the half-hour mark when, after clever work by Barnes, Andy Gabriel offloaded out of the tackle for Hawkyard to touch down.

All Golds opened the second-half scoring after just one minute when, after a great pass by Rowland, Joe McClean raced through the Cougars backline to score under the posts.

Keighley restored their ten-point advantage shortly after when, after winning a penalty, Barnes raced through to acrobatically score his second try.

But Gloucestershire wouldn’t go down without a fight and brought themselves within one converted try of their hosts when Lamont Bryan powered his way through five opponents to get the ball down.

After an end-to-end ten-minute period, Keighley moved into a 12-point lead as Paul Handforth offloaded to Ash Lindsay, who weaved his way through a wall of blue to score.

Adam Brook put two more points on the board from 20 metres out when a Gloucestershire defender was penalised by official Jack Smith for holding down in the tackle.

Scott Law sealed the points for his side when he raced over beneath the sticks unchallenged after a clever short offload from Handforth caught All Golds off guard.

There was still time for one more try as Andy Gabriel touched down on the hooter following a fantastic pass through the legs from James Feather after Barnes had been denied his hat-trick by a last-ditch tackle on the line.

Cougars, who have no game this weekend, are next in action on Saturday, April 30, when they head to London Skolars in the semi-final of the iPro Cup.

March said: “We’re now midway through a run of fixtures against the southern sides in the division and we can’t afford to get complacent.

"But we’ll have some time off now as it’s our bye week and prepare ourselves physically and mentally for the cup game down in London.

“The positive to take from Sunday is that we are winning games while not performing at our best.”


COUGARS: R Hawkyard 6; Gabriel 6; Barnes 6; Martin 6; White 6; Brook 6; Handforth 6; Law 6; Feather 6; Cherryholme 6; Oakes 7; Rawlins 7; Lindsay 6. Subs: Jode Sheriffe 6; Bailey 6; Ollett 6; Peltier 6.

ALL GOLDS: Murphy 6; Barlow 5; Reece 5; Kislingbury 6; Allison 6; Davies 6; Rowland 7; Purlsow 5; Parry 6; Walter 5; McClean 6; Jones 5; Bryan 6. Subs: Whittel 5; Elliott 5; Kidd 5; Evans 6.