A pulsating League 1 affair at the Crown Oil Arena yesterday saw unbeaten Keighley Cougars edge out Rochdale Hornets in a thriller, winning 42-30 in a game that was only finally decided in the dying moments.

The Cougars started on the front foot straightaway, as young try-scoring sensation Billy Walkley crossed for his first of the afternoon, Jack Miller kicking over the extras from out wide.

The Cougars put their foot on the gas then, as Junior Sa’u scored on his 300th career appearance in the sport.

The Hornets did find a route back into the game though, as the Cougars made an error which helped Luke Forber score in the corner.

Martyn Ridyard added the two points to make it a six-point ball game.

But Keighley’s lead soon returned to double figures, as they found space on the left edge for Sa’u to go over for his second try of the game.

Rochdale hit back a few sets later, as Forber scored a brace of his own after a brisk move from the Hornets.

The Cougars were then rewarded a set restart which skipper Ellis Robson capitalised on.

He crossed the whitewash and with Miller converting, the score was 24-12 to Keighley.

And when Walkley grabbed a brace on the hooter, Miller adding the extras, Cougars had a healthy 18-point buffer going into the interval.

Keighley News: Billy Walkley is in fine try-scoring form, and he was a menace once again yesterday.Billy Walkley is in fine try-scoring form, and he was a menace once again yesterday. (Image: JT Sports Media.)

Not long into the second half, and milestone man Sa’u got his hat-trick after a beautiful flowing move from the Cougars, Miller’s successful conversion pushing Keighley into a seemingly unassailable 36-12 lead.

But the Hornets got back into the game when Forber also scored his hat-trick, Ridyard adding the extras.

Rochdale were buoyant after that and scored again in the next set through Jonny Openshaw after a break on the right edge, the conversion making the score 36-24 in the away side’s favour.

The Hornets kept attacking and found a way through once more when Myles Harrop scored near the touchline.

Ridyard held his nerve to kick the difficult extra two points, bringing Rochdale to within a converted try of levelling the game.

After a tense final 10 minutes which saw Rochdale push the ball around looking for that crucial score,  Dan Parker released all the tension for the visitors.

He intercepted an errant pass close to his own line and ran 50 metres, before giving the ball to Adam Ryder to score and seal the victory for Keighley.

Miller’s successful conversion rounded off the scoring on an absorbing afternoon.

Keighley News: Lewis Hatton marked his first game since signing a new deal at Cougars until the end of 2027 with victory.Lewis Hatton marked his first game since signing a new deal at Cougars until the end of 2027 with victory. (Image: JT Sports Media.)

Attention now turns to Cougar Park this coming Sunday as Keighley take on Hunslet, looking to maintain their unbeaten league record.

They are looking to beat their West Yorkshire rivals for a third time this season already, having won at home against them in the league on Good Friday and away in south Leeds in the Challenge Cup third round back in February.