With three key senior players away at the weekend, Keighley were always going to struggle away to Counties One Yorkshire leaders West Leeds at the weekend, and they lost the top of the table clash 24-5.

Within minutes of the start of the game, some loosely directed Keighley kicks led to a breakout for the home team, and a chance for winger Connor O’Neil to brush off a poor tackle to score in the corner.

The difficult conversion was added by outside half Keir Breakwell.

West Leeds, with such an early score, were intent on taking advantage.

Their forwards and backs ran hard at the Keighley defence, they gained good field position but were unable to breakdown a well-ordered defence.

Keighley, having weathered the storm, put their game together and spent extended periods of time in the opposition half, but were unable to turn the pressure into points due to simple errors.

As the half progressed, both teams competed fiercely, but neither were able to maintain possession for extended periods due to good defensive work.

However, just before the half-time whistle, a lineout deep in the West Leeds half was driven on by the Keighley forwards.

And with the home team’s defence in disarray, wing forward Olly Snowden broke away from the maul to score, reducing the deficit to 7-5.

The start of the second half was poor, with both teams making too many errors.

Eventually though, West Leeds began to gain the upper hand, with outside half Breakwell and outside centre Chitiyo Eliah making inroads from broken play.

Their efforts earned them a penalty that Breakwell duly converted.

Keighley tried their best to move the ball wide and there were some good runs in midfield.

However, although the visitors came very close to scoring, they were let down by poor control of the ball at the final breakdown, which allowed Leeds to clear their lines.

As the game progressed, West Leeds, with Breakwell directing operations, used forwards to take the ball up in midfield in order to create space for the backs.

The tactic worked well and centre Eliah took the ball on at pace to slip past the last defender and score under the posts.

Breakwell added the conversion to put his side 17-5 up, but Keighley rallied and took the ball deep into opposition territory.

That play broke down and West Leeds centre Eliah stormed away. He started and then finished the move, running through a tired defence to score wide out.

The difficult conversion was landed by Breakwell to round off the scoring, giving West Leeds a six-point lead at the summit and seeing Keighley drop to fourth.

In many respects, the visitors were the instigators of their own downfall, lacking their normal zip and energy with poor tactical kicking often giving away possession.

Although Keighley played well in parts, often due to the link play of veteran outside half Rich Tillotson, they were unable to fully compete with the control of West Leeds, who deserved their win.

This weekend, Keighley will be at home to Beverley, hopefully with a full complement of players.