Newcastle Thunder 40

Keighley Cougars 12

KEIGHLEY Cougars suffered a second defeat in as many weeks at the hands of Newcastle Thunder at Kingston Park.

In a performance that didn’t reflect the standards set by the Cougars so far this season in Betfred League One, they struggled to handle the pace and physicality of the promotion-chasing north-east outfit.

And head coach Craig Lingard didn’t mince his words when reflecting on the defeat.

“We were bullied in the middle of the park,” admitted Lingard.

“The Newcastle forwards ran harder and tackled harder than our forwards and that is where we lost the game.

“There are only four or five people in our dressing room that can hold their heads up today with that performance but the rest of them need to have a look at themselves.

“We’ll hold our video review as normal but there are some players that need to have a look at that game and question themselves about their contributions more mentally than physically.

“The lads collapsed in the last 10 minutes, we sent a message on to challenge them to see who was going to stand up and be counted and none of them did that.

“As I say, though, we were bullied and that is what dictated the game.”

It appeared that it wouldn’t be Lingard’s side afternoon early on when after losing Matt Welham to a head injury after just two minutes, they conceded three quick tries from their own errors.

The first saw Mo Agoro dive over in the corner after the Cougars allowed Newcastle down the field on the back of consecutive penalties.

Then after a forward pass surrendered possession, the home side created a numbers advantage from which Kieran Gill strolled over to score from close range.

The restart was then put out on the full, and on the back of breaks from Liam McAvoy and Jared Blanke, Remy Marginet shot out of dummy half to race over.

Both teams were then temporarily reduced to 12 men when Newcastle forward Rhys Clarke sparked a mass brawl after a cheap shot on Alfie Seeley.

The referee Andy Sweet consulted with his touch judges and came to the decision to send both Clarke and Jimmy Beckett both sent to the sin-bin for a 10-minute cool-off.

But the Cougars closed the gap heading into the interval with two tries of their own.

The first came through the superb solo effort of Jack Miller, as the half-back skipped through two attempted tackles to dive over.

Cougars kept the ball alive on the last tackle near to the line, and a superb Josh Lynam kick under pressure to the corner was touched down by Davey Dixon.

And the visitors were unlucky to not be at least level at the break, but superb defence prevented Christopher Cullimore from turning over the line.

The second half was a quieter affair, but the home side did extend their lead through Carne Doyle-Manga, who managed to squeeze his way underneath the ruck to get over beneath the crossbar.

Jamie Thackray was penalised for lifting and the Thunder chose to take the two with Marginet converting comfortably.

The French half-back was proving a thorn in the Cougars paws as he did a fortnight previous, but a drop goal attempt was dragged well wide of the sticks.

The home side sealed the victory through Gill’s second eight minutes from time as the centre broke the line and raced over from 30 metres out.

Newcastle still had time for two further tries with Doyle-Manga and Agoro both taking advantage of a tired defence to score their respective seconds.


COUGARS: Seeley 5; Dixon 6; Cooke 6; Hallett 5; Welham 5; Parker 5; Miller 6; Bailey 5; Feather 7; Thackray 6; Lynam 5; Muranka 5; Beckett 5. Subs: Coventry 5; Cullimore 6; Arnold 5; Hallas 5.

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

COUGARS: Tries: Miller (27); Dixon (32). Goals: Miller (2/2). Sin Bin: Beckett (22 – Running In)

THUNDER: Tries: Agoro (9, 79); Gill (16, 72); Marginet (19); Doyle-Manga (48, 76). Goals: Marginet (6/8). Sin Bin: Clarke (22 – Punching)


REFEREE: Andy Sweet (Castleford)

Meanwhile, Cougars Reserves beat Scotland Students 28-14, also at Kingston Park on Sunday. The Cougars tries came from Kieran Moran (2), Adam Allerton (2) and Cain Crotty.

Cougars Reserves had lost 40-8 to Halifax on Thursday.