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Paul Handforth inspires March-less Keighley Cougars to victory
Keighley Cougars 20, Swinton Lions 12
Keighley coped with player-coach Paul March being banned from the stadium to grind out a win over Swinton Lions today in the Kingstone Press Championship.
It was Cougars’ first game since they were rocked by the news that March had received a two-month stadium ban for verbally abusing match officials while serving a four-match suspension for questioning the integrity of a match official.
Despite March’s absence, Keighley were able to recall club captain James Feather, who has been injured since the opening game of the season.
Meanwhile, Swinton were able to call upon Warrington first-team duo Gareth O’Brien and Glenn Riley on dual registration.
It was the Lions who started the brighter after a quick combination between Andy Ackers, Ian Watson and O’Brien saw Darren Hawkyard in for the opening score. O’Brien converted to put the visitors six up.
They could have extended that lead further but Riley dropped the ball in the act of scoring after Ackers looked to have sent him over.
Cougars then hit back, with Paul Handforth producing a magnificent off-load to send Daley Williams through to the line, Danny Jones levelling the scores with the boot.
The home side then took the lead. This time Williams turned provider as he found Paul White in at the corner for the score.
Despite Keighley now looking to have found their grove, it was the visitors who went into half-time with the lead.
Darren Hawkyard managed to keep the ball alive in collision, with Chris Atkin then racing through a gap to cross, and O’Brien’s successful conversion followed.
The game remained tight after the break until another intelligent piece of play from Handforth led to Cougars retaking the lead.
The former Halifax half-back passed back on the inside to feed Scott Law on his way to the line. Jones added the extras to make it 16-12.
Cougars increased their advantage five minutes later. Handforth once again had a hand to play, with his swirling high bomb too much for Freddie Walker to handle.
He knocked on into the hands of Feather, who then found Richie Barnett, who raced in at the corner for his ninth try of the season.
Neither side then threatened the scoreboard further, with Swinton holding out for a consolation bonus point.
Keighley Cougars: Craven; Barnett, Lawton, Williams, White; Jones, Handforth; Sheriffe, Haigh, Hesketh, Lynam, Rawlins, Law. Subs: Feather, Cherryholme, Lee, Peltier.
Swinton Lions: R Hawkyard; Worthington, Nanyn, Bowman, Walker; O’Brien, Watson: Morrison, Ackers, Riley, Thornley, Hawkyard, Brown. Subs: Menzies, Z Johnson, N Johnson, Atkin.
Referee: Tom Crashley.
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