Keighley Cougars 12 Workington 16

PAUL March’s return could not inspire Cougars to victory in his first game since completing a two-month stadium ban.

Workington led 16-0 at half-time after tries from Wigan’s dual-registration pairing of Lewis Tierney and Sam Powell.

Cougars hit back with two scores in the final quarter through player-coach March and Brendan Rawlins but it proved to be too little too late.

March, who started at half-back in place of the injured Danny Jones, was left to rue his side’s first-half display, although his men did at least claim a losing bonus point.

He said: “I just thought that we started poorly and gave ourselves too much to do in that second half.

“We had a spell with pressure on their line for about ten minutes and we didn’t come up with anything.

“They then went down the other end and momentum swung in their favour.

“We got in at half-time and had a chat and once we knew we had to chase the game we started to come up with some better options but it proved to be too late in the end for us.”

Despite that strong start, it was the visitors who broke the deadlock.

Graeme Mattinson offloaded through to Tierney, who stepped his way through to the line and Carl Forber converted to put the Cumbrians six up.

It was not long before they manage to touch down again, as another dual-registered player, Jack Murphy, bounced off two defenders before diving over, with Forber adding the extras.

They then scored from the most unlikely position as Cougars half-back Paul Handforth put in a kick which looked to have trapped Tierney in the corner.

But the son of dual-code international Jason Robinson showed incredible speed to outstrip Cougars full-back James Craven for a stunning length-of-the-field try.

Neither side look threatening in the second period until the last ten minutes when a short cut-out pass from Handforth sent in Rawlins from close range in the 72nd minute.

Handforth slotted over the conversion to cut the deficit further.

Cougars’ fightback continued when Handforth’s high bomb was knocked on, which allowed March to touch down in the 78th minute.

Once again Handforth converted to reduce the deficit to just four points but Workington held on to reawaken Cougars’ relegation fears in a season when the bottom five teams will be demoted.

Cougars: Craven: Barnett, Williams, Haley, White; March, Handforth; Shickell, Feather, Rawlins, Lynam, Pursglove, Lindsay. Subs: Hesketh, Law, Cherryholme, Lee.

Workington: Tierney; Mossop, Murphy, Stack, Carter; Lupton, Forber; Coward, Mattinson, McAvoy, Phillips, Szostak, Olstrum. Subs: Phillips, Rooney, Duerden , Rowlandson

Attendance: 823

Referee: Tim Roby