KEIGHLEY Cougars fell to a second consecutive League 1 defeat as the Rochdale Hornets held off a late fightback to head back across the Pennines victorious.

Three tries in five minutes saw Rhys Lovegrove’s side get back within a point of the Hornets, but in truth an error and penalty filled performance for the most part left the Cougars with too much of a hill to climb, as they lost 43-36.

Fans returned to Cougar Park after an absence of 463 days and they saw Keighley have the better of the opening exchanges.

A late shot on Jack Miller from Lewis Galbraith following a kick to the corner allowed the Cougars half back to dust himself off and take the two points on offer.

Galbraith would make amends minutes later, scoring after the Hornets broke down the Cougars’ left edge.

Rochdale soon extended their lead further, much to the anger of the returning Keighley fans.

Ryan Forshaw appeared short of the line as he burrowed his way over, but the referee deemed he had made the whitewash.

Cougars needed something special to get back into the game and they got just that through Taylor Prell.

The winger broke through the line and weaved down the field before offloading to the supporting Alfie Seeley, who dived home underneath the crossbar.

The home side then took the lead temporarily through Scott Murrell, the veteran taking a quick tap and going 20 metres to tumble over in the corner.

But the first half continued to swing back and forth, and a strong finish gave the Hornets the lead at the interval.

They retook the lead through Gavin Bennion as the Wales international stepped through a big gap in the Cougars’ defensive line to slide over.

A hint of controversy would come with the next Rochdale score, Shaun Ainscough appearing to be offside from the kick, but the winger touched down in the corner.

The hooter then sounded but Rob Fairclough still found the time to score with an outstanding drop goal from the touchline.

Fairclough started the second half the way he finished the first, in the points, as a cruel bounce from a kick caught the Keighley backline out and allowed the half to pick up the loose ball and race to the line.

And it seemed that Rochdale were easing their way to a comfortable victory with 15 minutes left to play, when the veteran Fuifui Moimoi forced his way over from close range.

But three quickfire tries from Keighley then threatened to turn the game completely on its head, as life returned to the sombre terraces at Cougar Park.

Aaron Levy took advantage of a spilt ball to score before the following two restarts both caught the Rochdale defence napping.

Charlie Graham, the Cougars man of the match, would first step a tackle and go 90 metres to round behind the uprights.

Murrell then broke the line and sent the supporting Miller racing through to score in front of a jubilant Terry Hollindrake Stand.

But a knock-on with four minutes to go allowed Rochdale field position and Ainscough found space in the corner to dive over for his second, and the match-winning, score.