Sheffield 12 Keighley 0

Keighley's relegation anxieties deepened after their defeat at Sheffield. With the sides on level points before the game it was a crucial encounter and the loss leaves the Utley men only three places off the bottom of the league.

Injuries again played a significant role. No 8 Andy Bennett and wingman Sam Walker were pre-match casualties and more significantly prop Evan Griffin limped off in the second half. It was his first start after a long lay-off with knee ligament damage and it is to be hoped that this injury to his other knee is less serious, especially since fellow prop Richard Leach is likely to receive a lengthy ban this week after his sending off at Bridlington.

Neither side did justice to a perfect late winter afternoon on a good surface, with the forwards monopolising affairs for long periods often to the frustration of the backs.

There was generally little to choose between them in the first half, although the hosts got off to a better start with some sound forward play. They took the lead after 20 minutes when Keighley's pack was driven back in a rolling maul before the ball was released to the backs and second row man Andy Kelly supported well for a try.

Gradually Keighley stepped up their game and with skipper Rob Ellis leading the way they began to press forward. Centre Nigel Curr was unlucky to lose control of the ball at the line and stand off Alex Brown was narrowly wide with a penalty goal attempt. As half-time approached a break by Curr might easily have brought a try for prop Ollie Sugden.

Keighley had good reason for optimism as the second half began but instead Sheffield grabbed the initiative.

Their wingman Jonny Cox failed with two penalty kicks at goal and only a fine tackle by Keighley full back Matthew Cox kept out wingman Joel Barratt. Eventually Sheffield's pressure and persistence was rewarded when flanker Kamrin Elers slipped through some woeful Keighley tackling for a try converted by Cox.

There was still time for a Keighley come back, but too often their attacks failed through lack of awareness in the forwards and a failure to provide quick ball to the backs.

Their task was made even harder when second row Michael Feather's irrational and unnecessary indiscipline earned him ten minutes in the sin bin.

Nonetheless the depleted side began to play some of its best rugby of the match. The inspirational Rob Ellis was to the fore in attack and defence and was well supported by Matthew Cox and Alex Brown. A powerful run by Ellis, supported by Danny Lester almost brought a late try but in the end the spoils went to Sheffield.

The side must now pick itself up in time for Saturday's vital home game against Huddersfield YMCA. It is a contest which they cannot afford to lose.