On a day when only four other matches were played in Yorkshire, Keighley took advantage of their artificial surface to put pressure on top two Wetherby, who they host in their next game, and West Leeds.

However, this Counties One Yorkshire victory was not as straightforward as the 39-5 scoreline suggests.

The result was very much in the balance at half-time, with visitors Harrogate Pythons only trailing by three points.

Tom Whyte’s try and an Alex Brown penalty had given the men from Rose Cottage a slender 8-5 advantage, but the second half was a different story.

Keighley added five more tries against the second-from-bottom visitors, courtesy of Jack Atkinson, Allan Ebbrell, Whyte again, Ollie Snowden and a wonderful individual effort from replacement Sam Blakeley.

Brown (two conversions) and Atkinson (one) completed the tally in a 31-0 second-half blitz to put Keighley level with West Leeds on 39 points, while Wetherby sit top on 41.

Keighley have played a game more than that leading pair but know they will overtake Wetherby by beating them at home this coming weekend.

And Dan McGee’s side will be confident against any side who comes to Rose Cottage.

Speaking after the win over Harrogate, fly-half Brown said: “It is over four years since anyone has beaten us on this pitch, so it seems to be working well.

“But Pythons came out keen, were very aggressive, and where they are in the league does not reflect how they played here at all.

“I was very impressed by them, and we had to put in a good second-half performance to pull away, as it was a fair scoreline at half-time and they came out of the blocks well in the first half.

“If they play like that there is no way that they will be in the bottom two come the end of the season.

“They are a good team, but opponents have got the better of them in the second halves for whatever reason.

“We had to stick to our structures after the interval, look after the ball a bit more, get back to basics.

“We knew that if we kept the ball a bit more and put the phases together that we would break them down and we ended up with a bonus-point win, which is all that you can do.

“Also, we scored some nice tries and the back three were brilliant, plus Sam Blakeley and Luke Currie off the bench.”

On a day when the temperatures were struggling to get above zero degrees, Pythons, who have had back-to-back promotions, made a positive start.

However, they went behind in the 14th minute with a try from Keighley No.8 Whyte, just after centre Alfie Seeley had almost created something on the right for Ebbrell.

Keighley News: Tom Whyte forces his way over for what was Keighley's only try in a tight first half.Tom Whyte forces his way over for what was Keighley's only try in a tight first half. (Image: John Ashton.)

Keighley then saw the opposition reduced to 14 men when lock Peter Millward was yellow carded for a tip tackle.

While he was off the field, Keighley had an Ebbrell try ruled out for a foot in touch and, while centre Adam Horsfall was limited in mobility but stayed on, Currie replaced the injured Declan Hampson.

After almost scoring on the right, Pythons did get over on the left in the 31st minute when an offload by centre Hugh Tatlow put full back Max Sharp over.

The parity only remained for three minutes, as, after a second melee, Keighley were awarded a penalty in front of the posts, which Brown slotted over.

Although Keighley were a different side in attack in the second half, Pythons were also a different side in defence, missing too many tackles in their own half, as the home side ran riot.

Atkinson, whose strong running was a feature of the match, scored in the 42nd minute, before Ebbrell crossed the whitewash moments later after good work from Horsfall and flanker Max Wild cut through some slipshod Pythons defending.

Keighley News: Max Wild caused Harrogate problems after the break with his pace.Max Wild caused Harrogate problems after the break with his pace. (Image: John Ashton.)

Brown converted the latter effort to make it 20-5, and the bonus-point try came in the 59th minute from skipper Whyte, after good work by lock Jordan Yaxley.

The conversion from Brown was again true and three minutes after that, flanker Snowden went over.

The try of the match came with 10 minutes to go, as Blakeley embarked on a weaving 50-metre diagonal run that ended with him stretching out to plonk the ball down over the line.

Atkinson kicked the conversion, with Brown nursing his troublesome hamstring, to put an end to the scoring.

As for this Saturday’s encounter against their title rivals, Brown said: “We always enjoy playing Wetherby and we always have some good battles with them.

“It will be an interesting one but it will be a case of whoever executes their gameplan the best that will win.

“I hope that that will be us.”

Injury-wise, Keighley are hoping that hooker Hampson (ankle) and Horsfall (calf) will be fit, while they could also have Jake Parkinson, Craig Spencer and Andy Heys back in the mix.