Keighley Cougars 18 North Wales Crusaders 30
KEIGHLEY are a point away from Championship safety after a final play Danny Jones goal saw them gain a bonus point in defeat to North Wales Crusaders.
Cougars are now six points clear of tenth-placed Batley, with just two games remaining in the season after the Bulldogs were docked three points by the RFL for fielding an ineligible player.
But player/coach Paul March is hoping his side can fully secure their status in the second tier with a win over Dewsbury in two weeks after a lacklustre performance.
“We make it hard for ourselves don’t we,” said March.
“In the first 40 minutes we just didn’t turn up on we were 20 points down. It was always going to be tough from there playing against a side who were playing for a lot of pride.
“We should have been confident though after four wins on the bounce but we’ve just got to keep fighting.”
Crusaders could not asked for a better start, as Scott Turner broke from the right wing and fed Stephen Wild back on the inside for a try from the opening set. Tommy Johnson added the extras to put them six up inside a minute.
That start got even better eight minutes later, as Mick Govin’s kick was missed by Richie Barnett, gifting Rob Massam a try at the left corner. Johnson goaled.
The onslaught then continued. This time Turner touching down on the right edge on the back of Greg Wilde’s neat offload. Johnson converting.
A period of sustained Cougars pressure then saw the home side hit-back. Halfbacks Paul Handforth and Jones combined to send in Paul White.
But it was not long before the Welsh outfit reaffirmed their first half dominance as Mick Govin sent through Toby Adamson. Johnson converted to put them 24-4 up at half-time.
The home side then looked more pumped and immediately cut the deficit with Jones ghosting his way through and then converting his try.
Barnett had a score disallowed before Handforth found Josh Lynam on an angled run for the touchdown. Jones once again goaling to see them trial by eight.
The full-on comeback was not on, though, as Jono Smith powered his way over three minutes from time to secure the win and looked to have denied Cougars of a crucial bonus point after Johnson converted.
But a penalty on the last play saw Jones keep his cool to slot over the conversion for a point which puts Keighley on the brink of safety.
Keighley Cougars: Craven; Barnett, Lawton, Haley, White; Jones, Handforth; Shickell, Feather, Hesketh, Lynam, Pursglove, Lindsay. Subs: Cosgrove, March, Sheriffe, Cherryholme, Haigh.
North Wales Crusaders: Johnson; Turner, Wilde, Reardon, Massam; Govin, Dallimore; Adamson, Ashall, Martins, Gee, Wild, Middlehurst. Subs: Roets, Smith, Hudson, Duffy.
Referee: T Crashley