Keighley pushed runaway leaders Malton & Norton hard but were unable to complete a unique double on their hosts as they went down 35-24.

The Rose Cottagers are the only side to have beaten the North Yorkshire outfit this season, having won 13-12 at Utley in February, and were aiming to do it again at the Gannock.

But the home side continued their drive towards promotion with victory to gain revenge.

Keighley were slow to start and conceded an early penalty, kicked by centre Teei Piawi.

Then Malton second row Duncan Foster broke through a loose maul and a flimsy defence to score, converted by Piawi.

Under pressure, Keighley were forced into errors and a further penalty followed for Piawi.

It was half an hour before Keighley managed to shake off their lethargy and perform. Some excellent driving play from Leigh Sugden set the standard.

As the half-time whistle approached, the forwards began to gain the upper hand and take play deep into opposition territory.

Solid driving play got Keighley on the scoreboard with a well-taken try from second row Stuart Inman.

After the restart, some good back play gave Keighley’s excellent full back Danny McGee the opportunity to join the line and score, Alex Brown converting.

Stung into action, Malton replied with forward pressure and a try in the corner for second row Mark Bradshaw, Piawi adding the extras.

After some direct running from big centre Ryan Lonsdale, Piawi touched down himself when he ghosted his way through in the corner and converted.

Malton were playing with confidence and increased their lead with a run to the line for winger Josh Saunders.

Keighley responded well and fought back with tries from Marco Ferrazzano and Inman, Brown adding a conversion.

But the last word went to Piawi, who capped a fine individual performance with a late penalty to give Malton a deserved victory.

The hosts need just a draw against Ilkley this week to seal promotion.

Meanwhile, Keighley will be intent on avenging a first-game-of-the-season defeat when they face Knottingley at home on Saturday.

Graeme Sheffield’s side turned in one of their worst displays of the campaign when they went down 21-6 last September.

Prop rotation sees George Fletcher start in place of Ollie Sugden.

Teenager Ben Blackwell is poised to step up from the bench if centre Marco Ferrazzano fails to shake off a groin injury.

Keighley are also boosted by the return of Scott Dyson, who is back as a replacement after a stint working in the Far East. The flanker has been one of the club’s strongest players this season.