Swinton Lions 10 Keighley Cougars 17

PAUL White scored a hat-trick of tries as Cougars took another significant step towards Championship safety.

The winger scored twice in the first half and again after the break as Paul March’s side boosted their play-off prospects.

Player-coach March started at full back as Cougars faced Swinton at Sedgley Park RUFC in Whitefield to protect the pitch at Leigh Sports Village.

The hosts opened the scoring when Martin Ainscough took a flat pass to score but March soon sent Richie Barnett over the line to score.

A precise cross-field kick from Paul Handforth found White again, who span out of a tackle to ground the ball and then touched down again to make it 12-4 at half-time.

Then Handforth went in late on Kevin Penny, words were exchanged and all-in brawl followed.

When it all subsided, the referee spoke to both captains and the whole incident was put on report with no one carded and the penalty to Keighley.

This directly linked to the next try as James Haley flicked out a delightful pass to send White in at the corner for Cougars’ fourth unconverted try and his treble.

Swinton did claw their way back in soon afterwards though, Hawkyard the provider, running at pace and again combining well with Barber for the centre to score.

Morrison once again clobbered a Cougar to reclaim the ball, this time James Feather but the closest they came to a resultant score was James Brown nearly dummying over from close range.

With Penny being redeployed at full back to cause damage joining the line, Handforth smartly showed his inexperience in the position, a chip over wasn’t claimed and then knocked on. Law charged to close to the posts and Handforth calmly dropped a goal with five minutes to go.

Penny nearly made amends with another scintillating run at the end, this almost lead to a try for Barber but a pass was forward and Swinton had to settle for a bonus point.