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Keighley Cougars coach Paul March off the mark
Barrow Raiders 20 Keighley Cougars 23
Paul March tasted victory for the first time as Cougars player-coach as Barrow were defeated at Craven Park today.
March saw his men heavily beaten by Halifax in their opening pre-season friendly at Cougar Park on Boxing Day.
But tries from Paul White, Danny Lawton, Joe Chandler and Danny Jones, plus three conversions and a drop-goal from Scott Leatherbarrow, gave Keighley victory in Cumbria.
March, who lined up at loose forward, said: “I’m really pleased because it’s got the monkey off our backs in terms of my first win.
“Barrow were always going to be tough and hadn’t lost up there for 18 months, so it took a gusty performance and that’s certainly what it was.”
The hosts opened the scoring in the fifth minute when Aaron Low collected a pass from Liam Harrison and touched down in the left corner.
But the contest became scrappy until new recruit White, signed from Halifax, finished off a delightful handling sequence by touching down in the corner for a try to make it 4-4 at the break.
Cougars upped the tempo in the second half and, in the 44th minute, Lawton touched down in the left corner after some fine work from Neil Cherryholme.
The Cumbrians hit back three minutes later when Max Wiper broke clear inside the left channel and Dean McGilvray went over.
Wiper was next on the scoresheet as he hacked on a loose ball near the Cougars line and put Barrow 14-10 up.
Yet Cougars dug deep and former Wigan youngster Leatherbarrow set up Chandler for their third try before Wales international Jones extended the visitors’ lead.
The spirited hosts replied again to cut the gap to two points when a Liam Campbell break set McGilvray away for his second with four minutes remaining.
But a 79th-minute drop-goal from Leatherbarrow gave Cougars a little breathing space and filled March with confidence heading into next weekend’s third pre-season friendly away to Batley.