KEIGHLEY Cougars bounced back from consecutive defeats as they ground out a hard-fought 40-0 victory over West Yorkshire rivals Hunslet at Cougar Park.

An outstanding display in the final half hour of the game turned it on its head and allowed the Cougars to blow their visitors out the water.

The first half, like the United Kingdom at Eurovision the week previous, ended with nul points on the scoreboard, an extraordinary scenario.

Keighley came closest to opening the scoring in the game’s early exchanges with Matthew Bailey and Scott Murrell both knocking on with the line gaping.

The home side then blew a further opportunity to put the first points on the scoreboard after Dan Parker broke through the line, as superb scrambling defence from Matty Chrimes forced an error.

A penalty for offside offered Hunslet the chance to take the lead through the boot of Dominic Brambani, but the half-back scuffed his effort from 40 metres out and put it wide of the uprights.

With defences very much on top, the visitors nearly found a way over through Alex Rowe, but the prop dropped the ball as he attempted the grounding.

The searing heat was playing a part in the physical encounter as the forward packs controlled the play on both sides, and another opportunity for the first try went amiss as debutant Josh Slingsby couldn’t get his fingers to a kick to the corner from Murrell.

Fellow debutant Bobby Darbyshire then burrowed his way over the line on the stroke of half-time but the try was disallowed for obstruction, a decision that angered both Cougars players and spectators alike.

The start of the second half followed the pattern of the first, with the defences continuing to dominate, denying Darbyshire for the Cougars and Tom Ashton from Hunslet.

In the 51st minute though, the home side finally registered the afternoon’s first points.

A handling error from the visitors near to the line gave Keighley excellent field position, and they took full advantage as Kieran Moran powered his way over from close range.

This opened the floodgates as two more quickfire tries followed.

The first one saw Jack Miller audaciously chase his own grubber and somehow manage to touch the ball down inches from the dead ball line.

And from the restart, the Cougars broke down the Hunslet right edge and Charlie Graham finished off a flowing team move by rounding the defence to dive over.

The onslaught continued at pace, as Graham broke through a gap in the defensive line and offloaded to the supporting Brenden Santi, who strolled through to touch down.

Brad Hey appeared to have scored a consolation try for Hunslet, but he saw the effort ruled out for a knock-on.

This proved to be a minor blip for Cougars, as Graham then scored his second of the afternoon, sauntering over unchallenged after Miller was held up.

And just to rub salt in Hunslet’s wounds, Santi crashed over twice in the final two minutes to complete his hat-trick and a superb afternoon for Keighley.