Wheatley Hills 24 Keighley 24

KEIGHLEY had to work hard to contain a very large Wheatley Hills pack and earn a draw.

The hosts were determined to use their big forwards to full advantage, early pressure gaining them a penalty that outside half Dave Laycock converted.

Keighley were unable to gain possession, leaving them trapped in their own half for extended periods.

A rolling maul from a line-out saw Wheatley drive play 20 yards up field, which resulted in a penalty. Choosing a scrum, they forced their opponents over the line and a simple try for number eight Paul Purnell, whick Laycock converted.

Keighley forced their way back into the game as pressure from winger Joe Coopperwaite gained a penalty that captain Alex Brown kicked to put them on the scoreboard.

Then good possession enabled number eight Rob Baldwin to force his way over the line but he was held up.

Wheatley recovered and returned to their direct approach. Their straight running was poorly defended, allowing their runners to continually cross the gain line, leading to a try for burly prop Brad Stephenson, Laycock again adding the extras.

Keighley brought on veteran forward Leigh Sugden to steady the ship. Good possession was driven up by Baldwin and then moved wide, which gave Copperwaite time and space to score a well-taken try in the corner, Brown adding the difficult conversion.

In the second half Wheatley started briskly but Keighley were able to contain them and put together some good moves of their own.

Gaining a line-out in the opposition 22, they moved the ball quickly along the backs and with the defence stretched, centre Rob Wilkinson dashed through a gap to score, Brown tagging on the extras.

With the scores level, Keighley turned the screw and pressured the opposition line. Wheatley were forced into a series of handling errors which gave second rower Stuart Inman the chance to drop on a loose ball to score, Brown again successful with the conversion.

But Hills were not finished. With Laycock kicking intelligently, the hosts stole line-out ball and put together another long-distance rolling maul before delivering the ball to the backs.

A superb last-ditch tackle from centre Adam Horsfall kept out what looked a certain score but Wheatley kept play in the Keighley half.

Some storming runs from their big forwards softened up the defence and resulted in a second try for prop Stephenson. Laycock capped an excellent personal performance with a well-struck conversion to secure a draw.

Keighley are at home to league leaders York on Saturday.