Keighley Cougars 48 Rochdale 6
SCRUM half Paul Handforth was the star of the show as he helped Keighley to a resounding win over Rochdale.
The evergreen former Halifax half back was inspirational, scoring two tries in the victory and having a hand in nearly all of Cougars’ nine scores.
Performance director Paul Royston was quick to praise Handforth after the match.
“Handforth’s just been immense this year, just fabulous,” said Royston “He’s been a massive signing for the club. He brings loads of experience, loads of organisation and on the park that’s essential, especially when we’ve got Marchy out of the team for such a long period.”
In a tight opening quarter, Cougars broke the deadlock as Handforth dived over from close range. Handforth slotted over the conversion to put the home side six up.
Rochdale almost replied when Dave Llewellyn had the chance to send in Ryan Millard at the corner, but his pass sailed into touch.
Paul White then thought he had extended Keighley’s lead but the touch judge deemed his feet had just gone out of the field of play before he touched down in the corner.
But they did manage to increase their advantage on the half-time hooter. James Haley scored a try from his own kick as he grubbered through and then pounced on the ball over the line.
Cougars quickly continued from where they left off after the break.
A precise football-style through-ball from Handforth was latched on to by Danny Lawton. Handforth then slotted over the conversion from the touchline.
Josh Lynam was the next beneficiary of more magic from Handforth as the second row was sent over from the half-back’s cut out pass. Handforth again converting.
Handforth then burst through a gap in the defensive line and found James Craven in support for their third score after the break. Handforth added the extras once more to make it 28-0.
The Hornets then hit-back after a quick break saw Millard charge over the line. Paul Crook converted to cut the deficit further.
But that was as good as it got for the visitors as Keighley showed no mercy.
James Feather sent in White at the corner before Handforth fed Craven through for his second, Handforth goaling the latter.
Handforth kicked a 40-20 before stabbing the ball through on the resulting set to Haley for a fine try. And Handforth was not finished.
Just before the final whistle, he charged through four Rochdale defenders to cap off a near-perfect performance with his second try of the match, which he converted to end the scoring.
Keighley Cougars: Craven; Barnett, Lawton, Haley, White; Jones, Handforth, Rawlins, Feather, Hesketh, Lynam, Pursglove, Lindsay. Subs: Sheriffe, Sagar, Cherryholme, Haigh.
Rochdale Hornets: English; Trumper, Davies, Littler, Sheridan; Wheeler, Millward; Walker, Crook, Thompson, Baines, Llewellyn, Greenwood. Subs: Cookson, Case, McClurg, Beaumont.