7:16pm Sunday 18th May 2014
By Ross Heppenstall
North Wales Crusaders 14 Keighley Cougars 16
Paul Royston paid tribute to Cougars after they made it two wins out of two since Paul March was handed a two-month stadium ban.
The controversial suspension, which will see the club’s player-coach miss next month’s Challenge Cup quarter-final at Widnes, led to performance director Royston being placed in charge.
He was left delighted after tries from James Haley, Brendon Rawlins and Sean Hesketh gave Cougars their fourth straight victory in all competitions. Royston said: “I’m very pleased with the win today – I thought the boys were awesome.
“We set ourselves some goals a couple of games ago – we’ll keep that in-house – but we’ve done well so far.”
Defences were on top for both sides in the baking sun but Cougars capitalised on Crusaders’ poor completion rate and ill-discipline.
They led when Haley collected a pass from Rawlins to touch down in the eighth minute.
There was a good opportunity for Crusaders on their next set after the opening score but Christiaan Roets lost the ball in the tackle as he darted for the line.
However, the Welsh side went over for their first try soon after through Stephen Wild, who supported Craig Ashall to break clear and score his first try in Crusaders colours.
Cougars were in at the left corner once again – but Haley’s pass to Paul White on the wing was adjudged to have gone forward.
The visitors started the second period the better and Rawlins found his way over following an error from Crusaders near their own line.
And they looked to be in again a couple of minutes later but Jesse Sheriffe’s effort near the touchline was chalked off for obstruction.
Hesketh barged his way over for Cougars’ third try and the game looked to be over at that point. But Roets collected a Gary Middle-hurst pass to race clear with a last-minute score – only for Cougars to hold on.
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