KEIGHLEY Rugby Union Football Club's artificial grass pitch has been hit by further weather delays.

Originally due to stage the derby against Bradford Salem on Saturday, September 16, it was then hoped the initial use of the pitch for a first-team game would be against Heath this weekend.

However, the autumn damp has put paid to that as well, meaning that the next deadline to be met is the date of the official opening – Saturday, October 21 against North Ribblesdale.

The optimists within the club are hoping that that will be the case but, just in case, a couple of dates in December have been pencilled in – Moortown on the ninth and Selby on the 16th.

When asked when the new pitch is likely to be ready, Keighley RUFC chairman Sam Griffin said: "Mid to late October at the earliest.

"The last two stages are weather dependent (the sand base and the rubber crumb) and the pitch then has to be looked at by a sports lab, signed off by the RFU and a certificate given."

Keighley's head coach Dave Duxbury, who was optimistic that the Ribb game would indeed be the official opening, said: "You can only control the controllable, but the whole pitch has been laid and they were working on the edging earlier in the week."

The RFU Rugby 365 floodlit artificial grass pitch (AGP) is part of the RFU’s Rugby World Cup 2015 legacy of delivering over £50m investment over four years into the development of 100 AGPs across England.

As for Keighley's 22-13 derby defeat at Old Brodleians last weekend, Duxbury said: "It was frustrating, and I could sense in the warm-up that we were not on it.

"We were not at the races for whatever reason, we were lethargic and we lost the ball too many times.

"A couple of times they picked it up and ran 50 metres for tries, and another try was from a charge-down, and whatever defensive structures you put in place there is nothing that you can do about things like that.

"Some were also moaning about the slope, but it is still a patch of grass with two Hs at either end of it.

"But Old Brodleians were nothing more than methodical, and if they were the fourth best team in the division, then maybe I have over-estimated the standard."

For this weekend's clash against Heath – another opponent from Halifax – Duxbury said: "Depending on selection, we should have Rob Wilkinson, James Fox, Allan Ebbrell and Jason Kaye back in the mix."