KEIGHLEY Cougars moved three points clear of West Wales Raiders following a 50-18 victory in the Betfred League One basement battle at Cougar Park.

The Cougars were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Pride movement and capped off a day of festivities by seeing off a dogged Raiders outfit.

And head coach Rhys Lovegrove, while pleased with the performance of his own side, had nothing but praise for the visitors.

“I thought the Raiders really showed up today,” admitted Lovegrove.

“They were big, they were aggressive, and they were direct, which we knew they would be.

“Tempo wise, I think they came out quicker in the first-half but for us as a team the devil was in the detail, especially in the second-half.

“The boys understood there was no talk and they understood that they were feeling a little bit flat but the way they got themselves out of it was probably in my opinion slightly incorrect.

“That’s the sort of thing now that we need to pick up on and learn quickly in training this week because we have been working on as many things as we can and that’s now on the list of things that we need to work on.

“There was a lot of things surrounding this week like the rainbow kits and all that sort of stuff, so there was a lot to contend with but I’m proud of the boys for the clinical performance that they put in at the end.”

Keighley opened the scoring from a scrum as the ball was fed to Macauley Hallet and the centre sold a superb dummy to mark his 100th career appearance with a try.

Cougars were then punished against the run of play as Mitch Shaw shot out of dummy half and burrowed his way over the line.

Jason Muranka thought he had restored advantage for the Cougars after pouncing on a Jack Miller grubber, but the effort was disallowed for offside.

The Cougars would re-take the lead shortly before half-time as Will Cooke managed to finish a difficult week personally with a superb individual try.

And shortly before the sound of the hooter, Miller raced home beneath the uprights after Spencer Darley broke the line and put the try on a plate.

Keighley continued their momentum after the hooter when a Miller grubber was pounced on by Benn Hardcastle, but the try was overshadowed by a brawl sparked in back play.

The tackle before Miller’s grubber had seen Hallett receive a facial from Alan Pope that led to the centre needing treatment for a mouth injury, but only after the two exchanged blows and were both sent to the sinbin.

Sam Baker scored for the visitors, going through in the corner on the back of great work from Tyler Hunt.

Hunt found himself as the third man to see yellow in the game, luckily avoiding red for a dangerous late tackle on Alfie Seeley.

Christopher Cullimore showed great tenacity to get through a tackle and send Jamie Thackray crashing over from close range.

Another two quickfire tries followed, the first seeing Miller score his second on the back of a break from Alfie Seeley. Hardcastle adding the extras for his 500th career conversion.

Hardcastle sealed a brace from himself, throwing the dummy and strolling through to dive over.

The Raiders wouldn’t go down without a fight and got over through Morgan Evans as he powered his way over.

Miller completed his hat-trick, racing to the line once more after a break from Dan Parker before Muranka got his try with two minutes remaining.


COUGARS: Prell 6; Dixon 6; Cooke 7; Hallett 6; Seeley 6; Miller 8; Hardcastle 8; Bailey 5; Feather 7; Wray 5; Levy 6; Muranka 7; Parker 6. Subs: Thackray 6; Cullimore 5; Sheriff 6; Darley 6.

RAIDERS: Cowburn 5; Baker 5; Snook 5; Bateman 5; Kaye 5; Parry 5; Hunt 6; Desmond-Walker 5; Shaw 5; Herron 6; Maiden 5; Celerino 6; Evans 6. Subs: Walker 5; Pope 5; Mulkeen 5; Harris 5.

COUGARS: Tries: Hallett (9); Cooke (35); Miller (38, 59, 72); Hardcastle (44, 63); Thackray (55); Muranka (78). Goals: Hardcastle (7/9). Sin Bin: Hallett (45 – Fighting)

RAIDERS: Tries: Shaw (19); Baker (50); Evans (67). Goals: Cowburn (3/3). Sin Bin: Pope (45 – Fighting); Hunt (53 – Endangering an Opponent)


REFEREE: Joe Stearne (Castleford)

BETFRED LEAGUE ONE RESULTS: Coventry Bears 20-48 Hunslet RL; Doncaster RL 12-22 Whitehaven; Keighley Cougars 50-18 West Wales Raiders; Oldham Roughyeds 46-30 North Wales Crusaders; Workington Town 32-22 London Skolars.

BETFRED LEAGUE ONE FIXTURES: Saturday, July 20: Newcastle Thunder v London Skolars; West Wales Raiders v Coventry Bears. Sunday, July 21: North Wales Crusaders v Doncaster (2.30pm); Workington Town v Keighley Cougars. Saturday, July 27: Hunslet v Whitehaven.