Sheffield Eagles 16 Keighley Cougars 29
PAUL Royston could not hide his delight as Cougars marched to a potentially priceless victory in their quest for survival this season.
The bottom five teams will be relegated from the Kingstone Press Championship ahead of a major restructure of the game next year.
And Cougars are on track to beat the drop after bouncing back from four successive defeats, including the Challenge Cup quarter-final exit at Widnes, to get their campaign back on track.
James Haley, Josh Lynam, James Craven and Sean Hesketh touched down for Paul March’s side to leave them well placed in eighth spot heading into Sunday’s home clash with lowly Rochdale.
Performance director Royston said: “After losing at Whitehaven and then at home to Batley, we needed to produce a response and that’s exactly what the players have done. We were looking for them to play for the full 80 minutes and they did that today – that’s how we got the result.
“We knew we needed to up our game but we’ve done that now.”
Cougars made three changes to their starting line-up as the absence of Paul White saw Williams moved out to the wing and Danny Lawton come in at right centre.
The absence of Andy Shickell also saw Brendon Rawlins moved to prop with Lynam returning to be partnered by Ollie Pursglove, who took Lewis Graham’s place.
A further two changes on the interchanges saw Jack Lee and Ross Peltier replaced by Neil Cherryholme and Ben Sagar respectively.
Quentin Laulu-Togagae put Sheffield ahead inside the opening minute but Cougars quickly steadied themselves and responded in style.
First Haley crashed over the line in the 13th minute and then Lynam added a second six minutes later.
The Eagles hit back through Duane Straugheir but Danny Jones’ three goals meant Cougars led 14-10 at the break.
And they took control after the restart as first Craven and then Hesketh scored either side of the hour to put Paul March’s men in firm control, despite a try from Michael Knowles for Sheffield, before the outstanding Jones kicked a late drop-goal.
Royston added: “Paul Handforth and Danny Jones were excellent today and I think we stuck to the game-plan really well.
“Our forwards were tremendous but I don’t want to single people out because it was a real good team performance.”