KEIGHLEY Cougars road to Wembley in the 1895 Cup came to a screeching halt at the first hurdle with a 38-12 defeat at Newcastle Thunder.

Head coach Craig Lingard made a number of changes ahead of the league meeting between the two that follows next week, but he felt that the game had served its purpose for his side.

“For us as a group, this game served the purpose that we wanted it to do because we got people out there on the field,” admitted Lingard.

“Kieran Moran, Chris Cullimore and Alex Williams have all played their first games of the season, so it gave us a chance to have a look at those guys.

“There were also some big efforts from the likes of Chris, Alex and Davey Dixon who were backing up from playing for the reserves on Wednesday night.

“It is disappointing to lose in the manner that we did and concede the amount of points that we did.

“But it has been a good exercise for us especially with people playing out of position and knowing there’s no Benn Hardcastle for another two games.

“We’ve got a lot of hard work to do over the next fortnight before we come back to Newcastle for the league game.”

Both sides had early opportunities to score with Jamie Thackray held up over the line for the Cougars before Mo Agoro couldn’t get onto the end of a Remy Marginet kick for the Thunder.

Marginet was sin-binned after nine minutes for kicking out in the tackle but despite the man disadvantage, Newcastle scored two tries in the half-back’s absence.

Agoro opened the scoring as he beat Matt Welham in a footrace to the ball on the back of a grubber from debutant Dan Coates after Rhys Clarke offloaded out the tackle.

Newcastle extended their lead further as they worked Keighley down the middle of the park before creating numbers on the overlap to allow Alex Clegg to dive home in the corner.

Cougars felt aggrieved that Newcastle were not reduced to 12 men once more after Alfie Seeley was taken out off the ball resulting in a knee injury that would end the full-back’s afternoon later in the game.

Lingard’s side briefly got themselves back in the game as a break by Seeley allowed Jack Miller to kick the ball into open space from which Welham picked up the ball and raced round to touch down next to the posts.

The home side re-opened the eight-point gap between the two sides as Jack Arnold was caught cold at marker and Marginet raced through the space to stroll underneath the crossbar.

Newcastle then sealed victory with three quickfire tries in the space of five minutes early in the second-half.

The first came through Kieran Gill who was the beneficiary of great play from Marginet, who sold the Cougars a dummy pass that allowed Conor Fitzsimmons to break the line and put the ball on a plate for the Castleford loanee.

From the restart, Thunder worked the ball through hands, and this allowed Agoro to race to the corner for his second despite the best efforts of Macauley Hallett.

Clegg sealed his own brace as he raced home in the corner as the Keighley defence appeared to switch-off.

Despite Gill also bagging a second of the afternoon after the Cougars were caught short numbers wise, the visitors refused to roll over and take a beating.

And they got their rewards for this effort just before the full-time hooter as Christopher Cullimore scurried over from dummy-half to touch down.


COUGARS: Seeley 6; Dixon 5; A Williams 5; Hallett 6; Welham 5; Gaylor 5; Miller 5; Coventry 5; Million 5; Thackray 5; Levy 5; Muranka 7; Lynam 6. Subs: Moran 5; Cullimore 7; Arnold 6; Wray 5.

THUNDER: Young 7; Agoro 6; Brown 5; Gill 6; Clegg 5; Marginet 8; Coates 6; Blanke 6; Ollett 5; McAvoy 5; Clarke 5; Fitzsimmons 6; Luckley 5. Subs: Simons 5; Sidney 5; Doyle-Manga 6; Rowe 6.

COUGARS: Tries: Welham (25); Cullimore (76). Goals: Miller (2/2)

THUNDER: Tries: Agoro (11, 51); Clegg (18, 53); Marginet (35); Gill (49, 61). Goals: Coates (0/2); Marginet (5/5). Sin Bin: Marginet (9 – Kicking Out)


REFEREE: Tom Crashley (Castleford)