Keighley 5 Middlesbrough 22

A MIXTURE of a depleted home backline and a potent Middlesbrough attack led to a frustrating afternoon for Keighley head coach Dave Duxbury in this Yorkshire Shield quarter-final.

"I had to bring two of our most experienced forwards, Leigh Sugden and Stuart Inman (Keighley's man of the match), off in the second half as they had colds and could not breathe," said Duxbury.

Meanwhile, referee Alan Chandrachud (South Yorkshire Society), who is generally a competent official, had a flakier match than a month previously against North Ribblesdale when Keighley christened their artificial grass pitch.

He could have awarded Keighley No 8 Rob Baldwin a try just before half-time, when the hosts were trailing 3-0, and Chandrachud also ruled out a James Morton try on the right late on when the result was in the bag for the visitors.

Yet what irked Duxbury the most was when a Middlesbrough player landed late on Jake Duxbury's knee – he has recently returned after an anterior cruciate ligament injury – after the fly half had scored Keighley's only try early in the second half.

"I have seen them given," was Baldwin's enigmatic answer about his try, while Jake Duxbury – who said there should be no lasting damage to his knee – was adamant that Morton had not dropped the ball over the line.

The match was a contest until shortly after Sugden and Inman went off in the 54th minute but the damage was not done by the Boro forwards. It was more by their speedy backs, who ran in three tries from distance in 15 minutes.

In a well-contested first half that was punctuated by a running battle between combative Keighley skipper Adam Horsfall and Middlesbrough left winger Sean Moloney, play was mostly in the visitors' half.

Duxbury, who showed a liking for the flat pass, pushed a penalty across the face of the posts in the 15th minute, while Burgess did well to haul Middlesbrough full back Jamie Watson into touch on the left minutes later.

Keighley's defence was tested again in the 22nd minute when a home line-out went wrong, with Matty John collecting the throw at the back and making good yards, as did lock Myles Colvin before the attack foundered.

Boro fly half Matthew Todd kicked them ahead in the 35th minute with a penalty but Baldwin looked to have scored in the fourth minute of injury time, Chandrachud – who did not seem to be in an ideal position – ruling that the back-rower was held up.

There was no time for a five-metre attacking scrum before the half-time whistle blew but the danger from the visitors was apparent early in the second half when their man-of-the-match Watson put on the after-burners.

That did not result in a try, however, and Middlesbrough were soon behind when Duxbury scored in the 42nd minute.

Prop Sam Booker made the hard yards before flanker Tom Willson slipped a one-handed pass that bounced kindly for Duxbury, who was in the wars a lot, to sprint down the left-hand touchline and score.

He recovered sufficiently from the Boro flop after he had scored to miss a difficult conversion from near the whitewash – but the lead only lasted 14 minutes when spilt ball in Boro's 22 proved costly.

Centre Peter Homan was the happy recipient as he ran the ball in from deep, giving Todd an easy conversion to put the visitors 10-5 in front.

In the 63rd minute, Moloney was the next visitor to make the line from distance, Todd hitting the far post with his conversion attempt.

Boro's passing in the backs might have caused them problems on natural grass but the ball bounced up nicely on the 4G surface for them to recover – and Moloney sealed their victory with a second try from distance after Keighley lost the ball in midfield.

By now there was no doubt that Middlesbrough, who are four places and 11 points better off than Keighley in Yorkshire Division One, would back up their 29-23 home league victory from seven days earlier, although at least the hosts ended the match on top.

Prop Craig Spencer was held up over the line after a penalty had been kicked to the corner, while there was then the question as to whether Morton had dropped the ball over the line in the opposite corner.

Former Wharfedale skipper Andrew Baggett, now Middlesbrough player-coach but who watched from the sidelines on this occasion, said: "We played well but it took us a bit to get going in the first half because of the bus trip.

"We have a lot of pace in the side and we played better as the game went on, especially in the last ten to 20 minutes, and we tried to play rugby as Keighley have a relatively lumpy pack compared to ours."

Middlesbrough now visit the winners of the Old Rishworthians and Hullensians (they meet on February 10) quarter-final on Saturday, February 24, while Scarborough host Beverley in the other semi-final on the same date.