Hunslet RLFC 14-42 Keighley Cougars

Hunslet’s unbeaten start to the Betfred League 1 season ended on Good Friday (29 March 2024) at the South Leeds Stadium against a full strength and much fancied Keighley Cougars.

The Parksiders had run the Cougars close back in February in the Challenge Cup, but Keighley were on form and Hunslet missing Billy Gaylor and Toby Everett, with Lewis Wray and Brandan Wilkinson also out long term couldn’t halt the Keighley attack aided by constant penalties.

The game started well for the hosts who straight out of the blocks scored an early try. Jordan Syme made good ground before Matty Beharrell sent Josh Jordan-Roberts on a barrelling run to the line. 6-0 on only 2 minutes.

More pressure, and Hunslet extended the lead when Matty Beharrell took 2 points after Michael Knowles was tackled late. 8-0

Hunslet certainly had the best of the early play, but Keighley slowly grew into the game. Jack Render had to diffuse a bomb before, on 21 minutes, after a series of penalties Kyle Kesik found his way over under the posts. 8-6

Repeated sets and penalties pegged Hunslet back until on 29 minutes Alex Bishop stretched over to give Keighley the lead. 8-12

Now Keighley were hitting form, on 33 minutes they scored the try of the match when a break down the middle and good hands sent Billy Walkley over in the left corner. 8-16

Hunslet needed to hold on now until the break and regroup, Jimmy Watson made a try saving tackle and Jack Render stopped a dangerous kick, but on 38 minutes Billy Walkley got his second try of the day as the ball was shipped quickly to the left for him to score in the corner. 8-20 at the break.

The second half started with countless penalties, and mistakes from both teams crept in, but after another infringement Keighley had good field position and Ellis Robson scored from close in, Jack Miller adding the extras. 8-26 on 49 minutes.

Hunslet hit back though on 54 minutes when after a Jimmy Watson break Matty Beharrell sent Alfie Goddard over in the corner. Beharrell converting well 14-26

The hosts got on the attack again, but the last play just fell short. A try now could change the momentum but Keighley found a second wind and on 64 minutes after forcing a drop-out Aaron Brown scored from close range. 14-32

With the game seemingly lost Hunslet tried to force a try, but a kick to the corner proved too strong for Render and shortly after Hunslet were reduced to 12 men as Jude Ferreira was sin-binned.

With a man down Keighley forced two late tries on 72 and 75 minutes as firstly Junior Sa’u took advantage of numbers, then after Hunslet were penalised from the kick off Ellis Robson got his 2nd try through a tired Hunslet defence.

So 14-42 at the full-time hooter and Keighley deservedly took the points.

In a stop/start game Hunslet will be annoyed to concede so many penalties and re-sets, but they need to re-group quickly as big spending Oldham visit the South Leeds Stadium next Sunday (7 April).

Jimmy Watson received both Sponsors (Tricks of the Trade) Player of the Match and Supporters Phoenix Bar Player of the Match and was a constant thorn in the side of the Keighley defence. Jordan Syme, Aidan Scully and Harvey Hallas were also dangerous for Hunslet.

Coach Dean Muir will hope to strengthen his squad this week as injuries start to take their toll.

Hunslet RLFC:  Jimmy Watson, Alfie Goddard, Aidan Scully, Jude Ferreira, Jack Render, Harry Williams, Matty Beharrell, Harvey Hallas, Ross Whitmore, Michael Knowles, Josh Jordan-Roberts, Aaron Levy, Jordan Syme. Interchanges: Cam Berry, Cole Oakley, Spencer Darley, Ethan O’Hanlon. 18th Player: Liam Carr.

Keighley Cougars:  Brandon Pickersgill, Adam Ryder, Charlie Graham, Tafeaga Sa’u, Billy Walkley, Oscar Thomas, Jack Miller, William Maher, Kyle Kesik, Mark Ioane, Ellis Robson, Lachlan Lanswkey, Aaron Brown.  Interchanges: Alex Bishop, Daniel Parker, Lewis Hatton, Jordan Schofield. 18th Player: Ben Dean.