KEIGHLEY’S head coach Danny McGee was a mixture of pride and disappointment after seeing his side lose the Yorkshire Shield final 40-19 to derby rivals Bradford Salem at Doncaster RUFC.

The men from Rose Cottage, in their first Shield final for 76 years, bagged tries from prop John Gibson, who was making a rare appearance after injury, and late efforts from replacement Lucas Uren and centre Taylor Prell as Keighley drew the second half 12-12.

The victory gave Salem, who surprisingly lost last year’s final, also at Doncaster, 28-22 to Baildon, a treble of league (Counties One Yorkshire) and cups (Papa John’s Community Cup North One Plate and Yorkshire Shield).

Keighley moved Alex Brown to full back, played Fin Meegan at fly half and had Adam Kemp in the back row for the absent Ollie Snowden.

Keighley News: Alex Brown was in unfamiliar territory on Saturday afternoon.Alex Brown was in unfamiliar territory on Saturday afternoon. (Image: John Ashton.)

McGee said: “I am disappointed that we lost as you always want to win, but I am proud of the boys who kept going right to the end.

“We had some good patches where we controlled the game, but didn’t do it for long enough.

“We finished the game the stronger and we always knew that our strength in depth off the bench would stand us in good stead, and it did, with everyone getting decent game-time.

“But in the middle of the match, where they scored two or three tries, it was too much for us to get back into it.”

McGee added: “Their big runners and ball carriers were the difference, but I cannot fault any of my team’s efforts.

“We will have a beer now and reflect on a successful season of third in the league, a cup final and an Aire-Wharfe Cup win, so I am pleased as to where we are at.

“It was always going to be difficult to play this game after a long season and the injuries that we picked up in the Widnes (Papa John’s) game, but the lads put their hands up to play, and that shows the character of the lads that we have got.”

As for the inclusion of four South Sea islanders in the opposition, McGee said: “It is what it is.

“Clubs decide to move forward in different ways, and fair play to Salem, but that is not us and we will try and develop our 10 or so colts who are coming through next season, and that is the model and the path that we take as Keighley Rugby Club.”

As for next season, McGee said: “I will be having conversations with people who might feel that they want to retire (Sean Kelly and Alex Brown have been mentioned in this regard as two examples).

“That is my next job - seeing what we have for next season and seeing of some of the players’ bodies and minds can take another season of Counties One Yorkshire rugby.”

On another sunny day at Doncaster, Kemp showed bravery and athleticism to collect Keighley’s kick-off in mid-air, but Salem soon shifted through the gears.

No.8 Tom Cummins’ ninth-minute kick down the right touchline just evaded left winger Josh Charnock’s attempt to dive on the ball, but the Bradford side were ahead a minute later.

Right winger Adrea Vasuitoga exchanged passes with Ben Whitaker to put the lock over, with full back Danny Belcher landing the conversion.

In the 14th minute, hooker James Brown got on the end of a strong forward push to score a try, with Belcher’s kick making it 14-0.

However, a sublime offload by lock Ed Keighley gave Gibson a try four minutes later, with Brown’s conversion halving the deficit.

Keighley News: Ed Keighley had a big hand in his side's opening try, as the underdogs briefly threatened to hit back.Ed Keighley had a big hand in his side's opening try, as the underdogs briefly threatened to hit back. (Image: John Ashton.)

But Salem got the crucial third try in the 21st minute when Pauli Pauli’s strong run gave fellow centre Suaia Matagi the chance to score, Belcher again converting.

That score seemed pivotal to the outcome of the game, Keighley temporarily losing flanker Max Wild to a facial injury soon after in what was an attritional contest.

Meegan’s diagonal kick then put Keighley on the front foot, and Salem were penalised soon after for collapsing a maul, but Wild was inches short of scoring a try after reaching for the line.

Centre Kelly was yellow carded by referee Andy Williamson for being off his feet in the 38th minute, with Keighley feeling that Salem had got away with three high tackles prior to the sin binning.

Then, just before half-time, Pauli scored a try which Belcher converted, taking the lead to 28-7 as Keighley winger Alfie Seeley watched on from the sidelines, having come off with an ankle injury.

Salem stretched their advantage with a close-in try from skipper and flanker Christian Baines four minutes into the second half, with Charnock then just being unable to touch down a kick ahead, injuring his ribs in the process.

There was no stopping the treble seekers, however, with centre Conor Wood scoring in the 51st minute after good work by Vasuitoga, scrum half Callum Smith then almost adding to the tally after a chip and chase.

But Keighley had the better of the final 20 minutes, scoring tries by Uren in the 61st minute and, after the sin-binnings of Salem replacement Richard Langhorn and Cummins in the 77th and 79th minutes, Prell scoring a try in the last knockings to make it 40-19.