KEIGHLEY lost for just the second time all season in Counties One Yorkshire on Saturday, in what will not go down as the best weekend of head coach Dan McGee's life.

After being rushed into hospital for an operation on Friday, he was absent from the touchline the following day, as lowly West Leeds stunned his side by beating them 32-20.

But McGee is feeling positive about this weekend's clash at home to promotion rivals Beverley, who they beat 22-8 earlier this season, with he and star fly-half Alex Brown both set to return.

A win for Keighley would make them and new leaders Goole the overwhelming favourites to finish in the top two, but to McGee's frustration, that might not even be enough to send his side up.

Even so, he sounded in a surprisingly good mood when speaking to the Keighley News.

Addressing his miserable weekend, the Keighley supremo said: "I wasn't at West Leeds, because I was rushed to hospital for an emergency hernia operation on Friday.

"I was booked in to have the op next month, but the pain got really bad last week so it had to get brought forward.

"It was all very last minute before the game, which wasn't ideal, but it's no excuse for our performance.

"Reading their match programme, it seemed like West Leeds had targeted this game for revenge after we beat them 39-0 in October and they just appeared to want it more than us on Saturday.

"We made some poor errors and didn't play the horrible, muddy conditions or our system well.

"It's not a big worry, as we've had it all our own way for so long, so now it's just a case of learning how to come back from a loss."

Beverley may be 13 points behind Keighley, but they could close that gap to single figures on Saturday, and they still have a game in hand on McGee's men.

The Keighley head coach said: "There was a bit of a gap after us and Goole to the rest, but Wetherby and Beverley have pushed on well recently.

"We're not safe in that top two, and it could start to get very tight if Beverley beat us and then win their game in hand.

"But we can definitely take lessons from beating them in October.

"They have a good back three and pace out wide, but we had success down the middle.

"It does depend on how you show up on the day, but if we perform how we can on Saturday, we should be fine."

Fly-half Brown should return this weekend from the back issue that kept him out at West Leeds, but other key members of the back line, Ben Parkinson, Alfie Seeley and Sean Kelly, are out for the season with injury.

It would be a superb effort to win the title without the trio, which is what Keighley may need to do to go up.

McGee said: "It's frustrating, because the RFU can never seem to make a call at the start of the season about how many teams are going up or down.

"It's hard to plan ahead, and you can never work out whether it might be worth resting certain players some weeks for example.

"The champions are guaranteed promotion, but if we come second or third, whether we go up or not is likely to depend on what happens to the Yorkshire teams in the leagues above us."