KEIGHLEY Cougars knocked another two of their 12-point deficit off with a 56-12 victory in Llanelli over the West Wales Raiders in Betfred League One.

The Cougars set a new club record victory in the same fixture last season but were posed with a much tougher test this time around.

And despite a slow first half, a dominant second period showing pleased head coach Craig Lingard.

“We were a little bit disappointed at half-time with our first half performance,” admitted Lingard.

“I was conscious at times about backing up the performance we put in against Bradford because you see it in other sports where times put in a massive effort in a big game and then lose a game they should win the following week.

“I thought we were a little bit lacklustre at times, but West Wales are massively improved and for us to come down here and put a score on them on the back of a superb second half display is fantastic for us.”

The early stages of the game were frantic with both teams coughing up possession cheaply by trying to force the play.

But the end product that produced the first score was a frantic one as both sides were left scrambling on the line before Josh Lynam found a gap to dive over.

From the restart, the Raiders conceded a penalty and on the back of that Luke Million broke before the ball was worked wide to Will Cooke who turned a tackle to get over.

West Wales then switched off from the kick-off and great work from debutant Matt Nicholson set Matt Welham free before Jack Miller finished off the break by scoring.

But this was a different Raiders side to that of 2018 and rather than rolling over, they came firing back through Mickael Sabour after a delayed pass from Morgan Jeffries brought Davey Dixon from his wing to create the space.

However, another Raiders error presented Keighley with another try as a knock-on put pressure on the defence and Miller drew the defender out the line to send Aaron Levy through the resulting gap.

There was a moment of concern, though, for Keighley as Cooke was forced from the field with a head injury with six minutes of the first half remaining.

The hosts grabbed a second try almost immediately after a chip over the top caused chaos within the Keighley ranks and Jeffries was the beneficiary as he raced to the line.

The Cougars had the final say heading into the interval as Davey Dixon intercepted a wild pass and on the back of the resulting break, Lewis Wray powered over for a 26-8 half-time lead.

The early stages of the second half saw Cooke return as Wray departed and on the back of these stoppages, a Miller bomb was spilt and Benn Hardcastle was quickest to the loose ball to touch down.

Keighley were over again through another Miller assist, this time the half-back playing a one-two with Jack Coventry to get the prop over.

Miller would then turn scorer as he grabbed his second of the afternoon, racing round behind the posts after great work from Hardcastle and Lynam to get through the defensive line.

West Wales continued to fight, though, and got their rewards after they broke down the right edge. Sabour managed to get his second despite superb scrambling defence from Keighley.

The Cougars wrapped the victory up with two late scores as Miller completed his hat-trick before Hardcastle sealed his brace with two minutes left on the clock.

Victory put Keighley on minus five points with three wins from five games.


COUGARS: Welham 6; Dixon 5; Cooke 6; Hallett 5; Seeley 5; Miller 8; Hardcastle 7; Bailey 6; Million 7; Wray 5; Lynam 6; Levy 8; Nicholson 5. Subs: Coventry 7; Gaylor 5; Parker 7; Arnold 5.

RAIDERS: Cowburn 5; Jennings 5; Jeffries 6; Kislingbury 5; Sabour 7; Palumbo 5; Hunt; Tuliatu 5; Rice-Wilson 5; Herron 6; Snook 5; Connor 5; Parker 6. Subs: Rowlands 5; Maiden 5; Desmond-Walker 5; Shallish 5.

COUGARS: Tries: Lynam (12); Cooke (15); Miller (18, 54, 75); Levy (28); Wray (39); Hardcastle (45, 78); Coventry (49). Goals: Hardcastle (8/10)

RAIDERS: Tries: Sabour (25, 66); Jeffries (36). Goals: Hunt (0/3)


REFEREE: Aaron Moore (Wigan)