North Wales Crusaders14

Keighley Cougars 6

KEIGHLEY Cougars were brought crashing back to earth after the previous week’s ‘plus one party’ with a defeat on the road at North Wales Crusaders.

Having finally wiped out their 12-point penalty with a win over London Skolars, which put them on one point in Betfred League One, Rhys Lovegrove's side failed to gather momentum.

And the Keighley Cougars head coach was left understandably disappointed by the level of performance his side put in on the afternoon.

“Things need to change drastically for us to have any form of success,” fumed Lovegrove.

“You learn more through your defeats than through your victories and I learned a lot, not just about the playing group but about myself too.

“I think I need to be more ruthless with my approach to everything, both in terms of the playing group and the logistical side of things off the field too.

“It’s been said that we have time to fix it but that doesn’t mean we have time to waste trying to fix it.

“We’ve said that we need to get better week by week and our defence as a playing group got better this week but there were certain things off the field that I was not happy with.

“But for me, next week’s reserves game against Hull FC now becomes a first team fixture and it will be an opportunity for the fringe players to play and try secure a spot in the side for West Wales.”

Both sides had opportunities to open the afternoon’s scoring with Matt Welham knocking-on for Keighley before Joe Ryan was held up over the line and Matt Reid’s break for the home side was halted by Taylor Prell.

The visitors then opened the scoring through a superb 70-metre solo effort from Prell as the full-back left two defenders in his wake after great work from Benn Hardcastle out of the scrum.

North Wales levelled up the scoreboard as Earl Hurst took advantage of a missed tackle from Dan Parker before handing off Prell to score.

Former Cougar Ben Stead then extended the lead to two points shortly before the half-time interval after taking the penalty goal on offer, Ryan Wright having been harshly penalised for a late shot.

The start to the second half was a nightmare one for Lovegrove’s men as, after the kick-off from Hardcastle went out on the full, North Wales worked their way up the field and Karl Ashall turned through a tackle to crash over out of dummy half.

Hardcastle was then the victim of what looked like a crusher tackle and, after a stop in play to allow him to receive treatment, the incident was placed on report by the referee.

The game then began to get scrappy, but the Cougars nearly got over twice in the corner through Welham. However, after being tackled into touch, he was then unable to get to a Wright grubber minutes later.

The Crusaders thought they had broken to score what would have been the try to secure victory, but Reid’s effort was pulled back for a forward pass in the build-up.

The Cougars' right edge was thwarted once more as Prell tried to work his way through for a second but was bundled into touch by some tenacious defence.

Keighley did have one final opportunity to score on the back of a 40/20 and a dropout but both came to nothing as they fell to defeat.

Steve Roper then went to put icing on the cake for the home side but knocked the ball on as he went for the drop goal attempt.

Player Ratings:

Cougars: Prell 6; Parry 5; Cooke 5; Hallett 6; Welham 5; Miller 5; Hardcastle 5; Bailey 5; Cullimore 5; Wray 5; Parker 6; Muranka 6; Feather 5. Subs: Coventry 5; Thackray 5; Wright 6; Darley 5.

Crusaders: Fairhurst 5; Morley-Samuels 5; Reid 6; Hurst 7; Eccleston 5; Roper 6; Smith 5; Walker 5; Hughes 5; Ryan 5; Atherton 5; Baker 6; Ashall 5. Subs: Hazzard 5; Thompson 5; Gregory 6; Stead 6.

Cougars: Tries: Prell (23). Goals: Hardcastle (1/1)

Crusaders: Tries: Hurst (31); Ashall (42). Goals: Stead (3/3)

Attendance: 315

Referee: Kevin Moore (Normanton)

Betfred League One Results: Coventry Bears 10-54 Doncaster; London Skolars 6-28 Whitehaven; Newcastle Thunder 48-10 Workington Town; North Wales Crusaders 14-6 Keighley Cougars; Oldham RL 56-6 West Wales Raiders.

Betfred League One Fixtures: Saturday, July 6: London Skolars v Coventry Bears; West Wales Raiders v Doncaster. Sunday, July 7: Hunslet v Newcastle Thunder; North Wales Crusaders v Workington Town (2.30pm); Whitehaven v Oldham Roughyeds.