BULLS booked their place in the 1895 Cup quarter-finals without too much derby drama at Cougar Park.

Four tries in a 10-minute burst either side of the break broke the back of what had been a tight local tussle.

Eamon O’Carroll’s side avoided the embarrassment suffered under Mark Dunning 11 months earlier.

But the League One hosts put up a decent fight in front of an impressive 3,729 crowd, giving as good as they got in a competitive first half and then showing some late defiance to keep the final scoreline close.

Michael Lawrence was a welcome sight in the Bulls line-up as the skipper made a first competitive outing of the year following his back injury. It was a special day for the prop who clocked up his 350th career appearance.

Billy Jowitt, also playing his first game in 2024 after a back problem, came in at half-back for Lee Gaskell, who was missing through illness.

There were a couple of familiar faces in the Cougar ranks with Brandon Pickersgill and the well-travelled Oscar Thomas up against their old club.

The home side produced a decent opening drive to threaten the Bulls line before Jordan Lilley gathered a Thomas grubber to diffuse any danger.

Cougars then coughed up back-to-back penalties after Eribe Doro was halted by a high shot as he blasted inside the 10. But Jorge Taufau was held up half a metre short to thwart the Bulls.

It was an end-to-end start, with the flurry of penalties being a factor, and the Cougars were knocking on the door again. Pickersgill took it close before Mark Ioane was held up as he got over the line.

But the Bulls put their marker down on 10 minutes. Doro proved a handful once again and took Mitch Souter’s short pass before off-loading for Sam Hallas to dive in to the left of the posts.

Lilley came up with a big interception inside his own 10 and broke up to halfway but a forward pass killed the attacking momentum.

The Bulls scrum half got pinned in his own in-goal from Jack Miller’s kick – but a monster goalline drop-out from Aidan McGowan cleared 70 metres before it ran out of play.

That turned defence into attack for the visitors. Lawrence tried to go himself before Jowitt’s forward pass drifted into touch.

Referee Cameron Worsley liked the sound of his whistle and the penalties continued to mount. Doro was pulled up for some afters with Ioane and Souter got a warning after levelling Dan Parker.

Bulls had plenty of goalline defending to do as Keighley forced successive sets inside their 10.

But the home pressure told in the 31st minute as Lachlan Lanskey followed in on a low kick from Thomas to dive for the decisive touch. Miller’s kick levelled the scores as the strains of “YMCA” belted out over Cougar Park.

The parity lasted five minutes before the Bulls, having seemed to have lost steam in the attack, managed to strike back through McGowan after keeping the ball alive on the last tackle.

And the Bulls then earned a bit of breathing space with another score before the half-time hooter.

Souter found no way round the post as he tried to go over but play switched to the left where Kieran Gill fed Jorge Taufau to dive over in the corner.

The Bulls continued to get a grip on proceedings five minutes into the second half with a moment of quick-thinking from Lilley who took a return pass to loop round the back and score.

And they struck again within two minutes, scoring from back-to-back attacks as Keven Appo ran in from 20 metres.

The stuffing had been knocked out of the game hosts with the Bulls threatening once more, only for Gill to fumble Lilley’s bouncing kick as he looked set to cross.

Keighley had offered little in attack since the turnaround. But they got back on the board on 65 minutes as Charlie Graham span out of a tackle to plunge over for their second try.

A second score five minutes later as Ioane bullied his way in from a couple of metres trimmed the deficit back to single figures – which Keighley’s battling efforts warranted.

KEIGHLEY: Pickersgill; Graham, Ryder, Sa’u, Walkley; Thomas, Miller; Maher, Brown, Ioane, Robson, Lanskey, Parker. Interchange: Stead, Kesik, Lynam, Schofield.

BULLS: McGowan; Myers, Arundel, Gill, Taufua; Jowitt, Lilley; Lawrence, Souter, Doro. Butler, Davies, Hallas. Interchange: Flanagan, Appo, Smith, Okoro.