KEIGHLEY may be sitting third in Counties One Yorkshire with seven wins from 10 matches, but Adam Horsfall reckons that they have been below par this season. 

After their 36-7 derby win at Bradford & Bingley on Saturday, the experienced centre confessed: “I would like, with my heart, to say that we will be in the mix at the end of the season, but we just take things week by week and try and get the bonus points. 

“We feel that we have under-performed as a team after two great back-to-back seasons.” 

Keighley won Yorkshire Two in 2021-22 and finished second in Counties One Yorkshire last campaign. 

But one thing that is making the team’s task harder, reckons Horsfall, is the difficulty in crossing the try line in 2023-24. 

Although the Bees are a bad example, as they conceded six tries against their visitors on Saturday, Horsfall, who recently topped 250 first XV appearances for Keighley, explained his theory. 

He said: “Teams in our division have got better and defences are better organised, such as Bradford Salem the other week.” 

Keighley sealed victory inside 25 minutes against B&B in front of a good crowd.

This was the first-ever league meeting between the two derby rivals, with the visitors storming out of the blocks thanks to early tries from wingers Allan Ebbrell and Jack Atkinson and prop Craig Spencer. 

A try followed for Horsfall seven minutes later and, in the second half, centre Alfie Seeley and replacement winger Sam Blakeley also crossed the line.

Atkinson, on place-kicking duty as Alex Brown was protecting a slight hamstring injury, added three conversions for the visitors.

Keighley News: Alex Brown had a rare afternoon off from conversion duty, but he still did superbly in open play.Alex Brown had a rare afternoon off from conversion duty, but he still did superbly in open play. (Image: John Ashton.)

Bradford & Bingley, bottom of the pile with just one win, had to wait until the 80th minute to get on the scoreboard with a penalty try. 

Horsfall said: “It was a good first-half performance from us and we worked hard, with Alex, who had a bit of an injury, playing well. 

“We put some nice moves together and the forwards were working hard, so we were on the front foot and the backs had a little bit of space.

“It was a massive occasion for both us and Bradford & Bingley, but although we were happy with the result, we were not happy with the overall performance of the team as things got a little bit tighter in the second half.” 

As for reaching that aforementioned appearance milestone for the first XV, Horsfall said: “I am very proud to top the 250. I never thought that I would see 25, let alone 250. It is a massive achievement.” 

However, he added: “I still have a broken scaphoid, which is a timebomb really, but I am a plasterer so I don’t need my wrist.

“I am 33 now, although I look 103, and it takes me a bit of time to get out of bed on a Sunday morning, but it is a matter of just playing with a group of mates. 

“Alex is the best player that I have ever played with but massive respect to all the boys.

“We have leaders within the squad like Tom Whyte and Alfie Seeley and, if you work hard together, you can come through some dark times in training and enjoy the Saturdays.” 

With Horsfall busting tackles in midfield, Keighley scored in the 12th minute via Ebbrell, in his familiar red scrum cap, with Atkinson converting.

Quick hands then put Atkinson over on the right four minutes later. 

Spencer plonked the ball over the line in the 25th minute, leaving Atkinson an easy conversion, and Horsfall got the bonus-point try seven minutes later after good work by Brown and flanker Ollie Snowden. 

Leading 26-0 at half-time, the second half was more of a damp squib for the visitors, although they still managed tries by Seeley after 50 minutes and Blakeley after 72 minutes. 

Keighley winger Jack Wild was sin-binned five minutes later for tackling a man without the ball, and the Bees were awarded that penalty try on 80 minutes to at least ensure they did not end the afternoon scoreless.

Next up, Keighley host league opponents Leodiensians on Saturday in a Yorkshire Shield quarter-final.