KEIGHLEY Cougars fell to a shock first Betfred League One defeat season after a gritty Hunslet side shocked them with a 26-18 away win at Cougar Park yesterday.

It had been a fine start to the campaign for Matt Foster’s men, who had won their opening six league games, as well as beating Dewsbury Rams in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup and Hunslet in the Betfred Challenge Cup third round.

The only blots on their competitive copybook were a battling derby defeat to Bradford Bulls in the 1895 Cup, which denied them a quarter-final place, and a thumping loss to Featherstone Rovers in the fourth round of the Challenge Cup.

And not only had Keighley won at Hunslet in the Challenge Cup, but they crushed them in a league game in South Leeds on Good Friday.

That meant Keighley were heavy favourites heading into yesterday, but Hunslet started the game well, with Jude Ferreira crossing after a break down the left edge to open the scoring.

The game soon got even worse for the Cougars when Ferreira scored again to make it a brace for himself, giving Hunslet an eight-point lead.

Matty Beharrell failed to convert either of those tries, and it looked as if the visitors would be made pay, as after Keighley made a few changes, their captain Ellis Robson snuck over the line to score.

Jack Miller’s conversion brought the Cougars back within two points and they kept the pressure on thereafter, with Billy Walkley keeping up his fine try scoring record this season to put Keighley 10-8 in front.

Keighley News: Billy Walkley has been in fine try-scoring form all season, but that was not enough to save Cougars yesterday.Billy Walkley has been in fine try-scoring form all season, but that was not enough to save Cougars yesterday. (Image: JT Sports Media.)

Keighley had all the momentum heading towards the interval and last week’s milestone man Junior Sa’u, who scored a hat-trick on his 300th career appearance, crossed here to give the hosts a 14-8 lead.

But if Cougars thought they had killed off the Hunslet threat, they were very much mistaken.

The visitors levelled proceedings early in the second half as Joe Law ran a great line to find a gap in Keighley’s defence to score.

Beharrell converted to bring his side level, but Cougars hit back quickly, keeping the ball alive to allow Walkley over for his second try of the game.

Miller missed his conversion attempt, and that allowed Hunslet to take the lead soon after.

That came courtesy of the impressive Ferreira, who got his hat-trick after a kick that winger Jack Render tipped back inside to put the centre over to score.

Hunslet finished off the scoring after a fine Myles Lawford kick into the in-goal area was pounced on by Ferreira, as he got his fourth try of the match.

Beharrell rounded off the scoring with a successful conversion, which gave Hunslet a huge 26-18 win that moved them up to third.

Attention for Cougars, who have now dropped to second behind unbeaten title favourites Oldham, now turns to seventh-placed North Wales Crusaders in a fortnight, as they look to return to winning ways in Colwyn Bay.