Keighley Cougars 40

Coventry Bears 8

Betfred League One

KEIGHLEY Cougars chipped away the first two of their 12-point deficit after a sensational second-half display saw them blow Coventry away at Cougar Park.

The game had a real feel of the original Cougarmania with a healthy crowd witnessing a game played in treacherous conditions accompanied by the sounds of influential owner Mick O’Neill over the tannoy.

And after being in the arm wrestle for the first half-hour, once the Cougars kicked into a different gear their previously undefeated opponents struggled to cope with the pace.

Head coach Craig Lingard said: “The effort to a man was outstanding and I’m pleased for the boys that they got that first win.

“The completion rate was high despite the conditions and we can improve on that as we made some uncharacteristic errors with ball in hand.

“The actual control off the ball was first class and there were some cold and tired bodies at the end of that game but it was worth it for the win.”

The weather for the most part evened the playing field in the games early stages and it showed as a Nick Newman penalty for a shoulder charge off the ball put the first points of the afternoon on the board after 18 minutes.

The visitors extended their lead, with what would be their final points off the afternoon, in controversial yet bizarre circumstances.

On the back of his own 40-20, former Cougar Nathan Conroy appeared to spill the ball on the line but the referee ruled that a Keighley hand had knocked it loose and this allowed Chris Barratt to touch down much to the anger of the Cougars faithful at that end of the ground.

The introduction of Jack Coventry, Jamie Thackray and Lewis Wray from the interchanges bench followed and this swung the game in Cougars favour.

Immediately from the restart, the home side forced a knock on and from the resulting scrum the ball was worked to Macauley Hallett who sold the dummy and raced through the gap it created for his first try in Keighley colours.

The try that would give Keighley a two-point lead at half-time also came from a scrum as Will Cooke took the ball out the ruck and handed off a defender to dive over in the corner with Benn Hardcastle expertly adding the extras from the touchline.

Then came the second-half onslaught that carried the Cougars to their first victory of the second coming of Cougarmania.

Following the first Keighley set off the half, Hayden Freeman stumbled under pressure and Davey Dixon picked the loose ball up to race round for the score.

And from the kick-off that followed, first Thackray, and then Billy Gaylor, broke through the Coventry line and the scrambling defence were unable to get back to prevent Hallett racing over for his second try off the afternoon.

The Bears were stunned and Keighley wouldn’t let go off their vice like grip on the game and Hardcastle and Josh Lynam linked up to send Jack Miller sliding over the whitewash.

Hardcastle then opted to take the two points on offer from 45 metres out after the official penalised the visitors for a ball steal in the tackle.

Lingard’s side sealed their victory with two late tries, the first of which was a sensational solo effort from Jack Coventry that saw the Prop plough through four defenders, taking three over the line with him, with a marauding 30-metre run.

Then with two minutes remaining, James Feather cut straight through from the play the ball to score near to the corner.