Betfred League One

Keighley Cougars 24

North Wales Crusaders 22

ALFIE Seeley’s dramatic try at the death signed the Keighley Cougars troubled 2018 season out on a high.

Trailing by 10 points with five minutes to go, it appeared the Cougars season was going to end with a whimper, but tries from Brendon Rawlins and Seeley saw the hosts snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

And the dramatic scenes that followed Benn Hardcastle’s winning conversion was a perfect analogy of Keighley’s year and head coach Craig Lingard shared that sentiment following the breathtaking ending.

“That last five minutes was chaotic and unpredictable and sums up the season as a whole,” admitted Lingard.

“But it certainly summed up the determination, the effort and the commitment from the boys as a whole.

“It’s been a really tough season and we know that but the players that are sat in the dressing room have stuck by the club when it would have been easy for them to walk away.

“But the lads have stuck together as a team and stuck by the club through the difficult times that they’ve had throughout this year.

“It was a difficult one, though, when Alfie scored as I was stood with Anthony Murray at the time and it was one of them where you wanted the kick to go over but you felt sorry for Muzza if it did.

“It did go over, though, straight between the sticks, and that’s what Benn has been doing all season and a draw would have been a fair reflection of the game.

“I’m just pleased for the lads because after everything they’ve been through, they deserved that victory today.”

Cougars opened the scoring in the third minute when Josh Lynam burrowed over from close range after superb work from Dan Parker, who intercepted a pass and broke 70 metres downfield.

North Wales came into the game and drew level through Tommy Johnson, who raced through to score after a lovely show and go to create space in the defensive line.

Crusaders were unlucky not to take the lead but Ryan Smith put too much on his cross-field kick to Dale Bloomfield out on the left wing.

Keighley re-took the lead though when Cameron Leeming drew Gavin Conroy in off his wing and put the ball on a plate for Andy Gabriel who dived over in the corner.

Crusaders levelled the scores once more after Kenny Baker and Jack Houghton both broke through the line and sent Earl Hurst racing through to put Bloomfield in at the corner.

Gabriel was then sin-binned for retaliation after being on the receiving end of a high tackle by Gavin Conroy and more rough treatment from Jonny Walker, much to the bemusement of the Cougars bench.

Cougars started the second half the stronger of the sides and re-took the lead for a third time from the boot of Hardcastle after Crusaders were pinged for offside in front of their own posts.

Crusaders took the lead for the first time on the afternoon when Baker broke the Keighley line once more and made his way towards the uprights where his offload saw Ryan Smith denied by a superb Seeley tackle.

From the resulting play the ball, however, Houghton walked under the posts unchallenged.

Warren Thompson then looked to have sealed the Crusaders win with 10 minutes remaining as he powered over from close range.

However, Cougars set up the unlikely grandstand finish with Brendon Rawlins' powerful effort with five minutes remaining, before Seeley stole the victory as he dove into the corner in the games closing seconds.


COUGARS: Hawkyard 8; Seeley 7; Parker 7; Leeming 5; Gabriel 6; Emmett 6; Hardcastle 6; Rawlins 7; Feather 6; Bailey 6; Lynam 6; Levy 5; Whittel 5. Subs: Law 5; Nicholson 6; Kenga 5; Cullimore 5.

CRUSADERS: Johnson 7; Conroy 5; Trumper 5; Hurst 7; Bloomfield 6; Ashall 5; Smith 6; Norman 5; Hudson 5; Thompson 6; Atherton 5; Houghton 6; Baker 7. Subs: Walker 5; Bate 5; Moore 5; Brennan 5.

COUGARS: Tries: Lynam (3); Gabriel (15); Rawlins (75); Seeley (79). Goals: Hardcastle (4/5). Sin Bin: Gabriel (38 – Retaliation).

CRUSADERS: Tries: Johnson (10); Bloomfield (25); Houghton (56); Thompson (70). Goals: Johnson (3/4).


REFEREE: Jonathan Roberts (Leeds).