KEIGHLEY RUFC suffered once again without head coach Dan McGee, as they lost on Saturday to see their title hopes evaporate.

In a must-win game at leaders Goole, second-placed Keighley were beaten 17-0 to drop 14 points off the summit with four games to go this season.

They know finishing as runners-up will still give them a good chance of promotion, but with Beverley now level on points with them in third, a win at fifth-placed Old Rishworthian is vital for Keighley this weekend.

McGee missed last month's shock defeat at West Leeds due to an emergency hernia operation, and was absent here because his day job as a teacher meant he was away on a school ski trip.

He has watched Saturday's defeat back on video, and said: "We knew what Goole would be like, as they pride themselves on the physical grind.

"Their big pack helps them get across the gain line and they like to go through lots of phases and grind you down.

"We matched them for long spells on Saturday, but lost the ball in contact too often and there weren't enough phases from us.

"We had good possession and territory for long periods, so it's frustrating that we couldn't score.

"But I do think Goole were the better side overall and they deserved to win."

Keighley will secure second if they win their final four games, with McGee saying: "We're in a good position, and coming second is in our hands.

"Goole still have tough games left against Beverley and Wetherby, but we're not looking at overtaking them any more, instead focusing on taking maximum points from the games we have left to finish as runners-up.

"Rish away this Saturday is going to be tough, as they're similar to Goole, a physical side who like a driving maul.

"Huddersfield Laund Hill at home the week after is certainly a game we'd target as a win, as they're third-bottom.

"Then we're at Hullensians in our penultimate game, and they've had a real dip in form.

"We host Beverley in our rematch on the final day, even if I feel we should have been given the win for that already personally (the league have ordered a rematch after the original game was abandoned due to a refereeing injury late on with Keighley leading 19-17)."

At least that game is at home, where Keighley have a perfect record of nine wins from nine in the league this season.

On the road though, their record stands at four wins, two draws and three defeats, so the game at Rish on Saturday looks as if it could be problematic.

McGee is not panicking, instead reasoning: "We've not had the winning streak over the last few weeks that we had been enjoying before that.

"We knew that would be the case though, especially with us facing a few similar teams who play with large packs.

"It's no secret we like to play fast rugby, with quick rucks and us moving the opposition around.

"We tend to do it successfully, but the winter weather settling in of late has made for some tough games on tough pitches (whereas Keighley's home games are on an artificial surface).

"We've got to try and play our own game at Rish on Saturday, and if we can avoid getting into a dogfight, I feel we'll be fine."