THE Cougars crashed out of the Challenge Cup after being edged 28-24 at North Wales Crusaders.

The first half was nearly all Keighley but, following the half-time interval, the game turned on its head and North Wales hit back to progress into the hat for round four.

The 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.

Craig 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 from the interchanges bench – pulled off a superb offload out of the tackle to Hawkyard, who raced to the line.

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.

Scott Law was then sent to the sin-bin for Keighley after being adjudged 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 referee ruled that Hamish Barnes' pass was forward.

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

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