Keighley remain top of the Counties One Yorkshire by two points, but had to work hard to win 41-26 at lowly Beverley on Saturday, writes Tony Burns.

Their hosts have been struggling this season, with a number of key players out due to long-term injuries.

Many may have predicted a comfortable win for the Rose Cottage side, but it proved to be a tougher day than expected.

Kicking off towards the clubhouse, Keighley immediately took control of the game and only a harshly judged forward pass deprived Sam Blakeley of an opening try after an excellent break from Jack Atkinson.

However, after only six minutes, a lineout on the five-metre line was driven forward by powerhouse prop Sam Booker, tying up most of the Beverley pack.

That led to quick ball from scrum half Nathan Pickles, who picked out second row Ed Keighley.

He found a gap in the home defence to score Keighley’s opening try, the conversion from Alex Brown hitting the post.

Keighley News: Ed Keighley got the visitors off to a lightning start at Beverley.Ed Keighley got the visitors off to a lightning start at Beverley. (Image: John Ashton.)

For the next 15 minutes Beverley had plenty of possession but Keighley’s superbly organised defence kept the home side well away from their line.

Keighley finally moved back into Beverley territory and a scrum penalty led to a lineout in the home sides 22 metre area.

Another fine drive forward by prop Booker took play close to the line, where his front row partner Andy Heys picked up at the back of the ruck and powered over for another five points, the conversion being missed again.

Soon after, a break from the Beverley backs fed the ball to their left winger Jacob Baggs, who was tackled too high by visiting inside centre Adam Horsfall.

That meant the Keighley man was shown a yellow card and sent for 10 minutes on the sidelines.

Beverley finally gained better field position and a penalty for offside resulted in three points to put them on the scoreboard.

From the restart, Beverley, with the extra man, immediately put pressure on the Keighley defence.

That led to a miss kick which went straight to a Beverley hand and excellent interplay between their forwards and backs took play close to the Keighley line.

Eventually, quick hands spread the ball wide for a try in the corner for Beverley’s excellent No.8 Jack Houseman, but the conversion was missed meaning the visitors remained 10-8 in front.

Beverley then took the lead with a further penalty on 36 minutes after a deliberate knock on by Alfie Seeley, which saw the Keighley outside centre yellow carded.

Keighley News: Alfie Seeley (yellow boots) put his team in a spot of bother with his yellow card late in the first half.Alfie Seeley (yellow boots) put his team in a spot of bother with his yellow card late in the first half. (Image: John Ashton.)

From the restart, the Keighley forwards started to build pressure on the Beverley defence with a series of powerful drives, before the ball was spread wide to Blakeley.

The young winger seemed to have scored an excellent try in the corner, only for it to be ruled out by the referee for a knock on.

The Keighley man was not to be denied though and from a goal line drop out, the Keighley forwards again took the ball deep into home team territory.

That paved the way for a superb back row move, which saw the ball arrive with Blakeley, who dived in at the corner to give Keighley a 15-11 half-time lead.

From the restart, a series of powerful drives from the Keighley forwards took play deep into Beverley territory.

The ball was spun out to the left, drawing most of the Beverley defence, before quick hands took the ball back to Heys.

He crossed for his second try, going over under the posts, and that score was converted by Brown.

Keighley now seemed well in control, however a dropped ball in midfield was hacked directly into the hands of speedy full back Luke Hazell.

He managed to elude the Keighley defence to score a fine try from within his own half.

An altercation between a number of players after the try, led to yellow cards for Keighley’s Brown and the try scorer Hazell, leaving both sides down to 14 men.

With Brown off the pitch, Keighley seemed to lose focus for a while.

A dropped ball near halfway lead to some ragged play and a penalty to Beverley, which took them close to the Keighley five-metre line.

From the ensuing lineout a series of drives resulted in home hooker Andy Meagher being pushed over for a converted try that gave Beverley a 23 22 lead.

Soon after, a long-range penalty by Joey Franklin extended the home side’s lead to 26-22 with just 15 minutes remaining.

At this point, Keighley’s long winning run looked at risk, but Brown’s return from the sin bin and a calmer approach saw the visitors dominate the final stages.

A fine 50-22 kick from Brown to the corner gave Keighley an attacking lineout.

Soon after, a series of dominant scrums lead to a fine back row move with Horsfall scoring Keighley’s fifth try, converted again by Brown to give Keighley a 29-26 advantage.

Further tries from second rower Keighley and winger Blakeley, as well as another successful conversion from Brown, saw the visitors come away with what, on paper, looked a comfortable 41-26 victory.

Keighley News: Sam Blakeley had a superb afternoon on the wing, and scored the two tries his performance deserved.Sam Blakeley had a superb afternoon on the wing, and scored the two tries his performance deserved. (Image: John Ashton.)

However Beverley were strong opponents who never gave up, and they were only 15 minutes away from pulling off a shock result.

Keighley do not play this weekend so could relinquish top spot but the following Saturday will be possibly the deciding game in Counties One Yorkshire, as second placed Bradford Salem are the visitors on what should be a memorable day at Rose Cottage.