KEIGHLEY Cougars continued their return to form with a comprehensive 80-10 victory at home to Hemel Stags.

The result left head coach Craig Lingard a happy man once again as his side moved through the pack into the League One play-off positions.

“It was a decent performance, in the first half the boys were excellent and I was really pleased with the application,” said Lingard.

“We dropped off a bit in that second half especially towards the end of the game but first and foremost it’s another win and two points on the board.

“It’s disappointing that we dropped off because it will catch you out in some of the games against the teams at the top of the division.

“It’s something we’ll look at because some were unforced errors and we overplayed at times which you will do in games like that but we just need to tighten up a little bit.

“Everyone had a good game, though, and I was pleased with some of our quick rucks in the first-half and that allowed us to roll them over down the middle.

“I was really pleased with how our outside backs carried to generate that quick ruck and how our middle men carried and both our nines were very smart.

“We’ve got two tough away games coming up at Oldham and Newcastle and our attentions very much switch to them now.”

It took the hosts just four minutes to breach the Stags as Harvey Hallas marauded through to score.

Keighley continued their stranglehold with two more quick-fire tries from breaks, the first seeing Ryan Wright weaving through on the last tackle to send Lewis Fairhurst racing to the line.

From the restart, Hallas broke and put one on a plate for the supporting Ritchie Hawkyard.

Cougars were in full throttle and continued to run riot as Adam Ryder scored with ease on the back of a penalty, with Hawkyard scoring his second from a Scott Law break.

Andy Gabriel was the next to score as he raced 80 metres from the left wing to dive home beneath the uprights and from the restart, another break was finished by Nathan Conroy.

And the final score of the first half saw Matty Beharrell’s grubber inexplicably left by the Stags defence, presenting Josh Tonks with no doubt the easiest try of his career.

The visitors got onto the scoreboard with just 30 seconds of the second half gone as a wild offload on the left wing was intercepted by Marcus Elliott, who raced unchallenged to the corner.

It would prove to a brief blip on Cougars' copybook, with Keighley right back at it as Ben Morris scored on debut after a break from Perry Whiteley.

Conroy then broke the Hemel line to send Beharrell racing home between the sticks.

Tonks sealed his brace as he charged through from 20 metres, brushing off a number of would-be tacklers in the process, with a second for Ryder shortly after, following again on the back of a penalty.

Ryder turned provider, breaking straight from the kick-off and racing downfield to send Fairhurst around the full back for his second score of the afternoon.

Both sides had opportunities to add to their scores with Whiteley knocking on for the Cougars just moments after Jack Mitchell spilt the ball on the line for the visitors.

Stags had a final say though on the afternoon as Jono Burns squeezed over from close range.

Mike Emmett rounded the scoring up for the home side on the final hooter as he crossed with ease from a Matthew Bailey offload.


COUGARS: Hawkyard 9; Dixon 7; Whiteley 7; Ryder 7; Gabriel 7; Hardcastle 7; Fairhurst 8; Hallas 8; Wright 8; Bailey 7; Morris 7; Tonks 9; Emmett 7. Subs: Beharrell 7; Law 7; Conroy 8; Rawlins 7.

STAGS: Hunter 5; Elliott 5; K Williams 5; Heil 5; Fitzpatrick-Parry 5; Mitchell 5; Smith 6; Thornton 5; Hough 5; R Williams 5; Decaro 5; Esslemont 5; Stock 5. Subs: Burns 5; Bastas 5; Samuel 5; Fumhanda 5.

COUGARS: Tries: Hallas (4); Fairhurst (10, 63); Hawkyard (13, 25); Ryder (22, 60); Gabriel (28); Conroy (32); Tonks (39, 55); Morris (46); Beharrell (49); Emmett (80). Goals: Hardcastle (12/14).

STAGS: Tries: Elliot (41); Burns (78). Goals: Smith (1/2).


REFEREE: Jonathan Roberts (Batley).