Demetriou in agonising farewell as Keighley Cougars suffer play-off heartache (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Demetriou in agonising farewell as Keighley Cougars suffer play-off heartache
EARLY HOPE: Paul March is mobbed after putting Cougars back in contention during the first half at Halifax
Halifax 28 Keighley Cougars 24 Jason Demetriou bade farewell to Cougars in heartbreaking fashion as a last-minute try condemned his side to the cruellest of defeats.
Demetriou’s men produced one of their best displays of the season against high-flying Halifax in the Co-operative Championship play-off eliminator semi-final.
The scores were level at 24-24 when centre Lee Paterson escaped down the right flank to plunge over the line in a dramatic finish.
Player-coach Demetriou had given a colossal man-of-the-match performance as his men came from 16-6 to lead before Paterson ended their campaign in devastating fashion.
Demetriou will now head home to Australia after a two-year reign at Cougar Park, and said: “Words can’t describe how proud I am tonight.
“Not just for their performance here but for what they’ve done all season.
“There were plenty of guys out there tonight who were outstanding – plenty of Keighley lads born and bred – and the future is good for the club.”
Backed by a strong vocal following, Cougars led when Demetriou burst through two tackles and ushered full-back Craig Moss over from 10 metres out.
Danny Lawton added the extras to put Cougars 6-0 ahead before Halifax replied when Jim Gannon raced under the posts in the 13th minute.
Steve Tyrer converted and suddenly Cougars were on the back foot as Halifax poured forward in numbers.
The pressure told in the 20th minute when hulking prop Makali Aizue took a pass from Paul Handforth to barrell over the line and Tyrer again concerted.
Halifax grabbed a third try in the 28th minute when Handforth’s perfectly-weighted kick to the left channel was caught and grounded by the onrushing Tyrer, whose conversion attempt rebounded off a post.
Yet Cougars hauled themselves right back into contention when Demetriou’s successor Paul March plunged over the line from dummy half.
Lawton’s conversion cut Halifax’s lead to four points and three minutes after the restart Danny Jones produced a delightful dummy to outfox a home defender and create the space to cross from close range.
Lawton’s conversion put Cougars 18-16 ahead but a penalty from Tyrer tied the scores in the 52nd minute.
Prop Barlow crashed over the line from close range in the 66th minute for a try which Tyrer converted.
With six minutes remaining, hooker James Feather plunged over and Lawton’s conversion tied the scores at 24-24 but in the last minute a fine pass from Anthony Thackeray sent Paterson over in the right corner.
Cougars: Moss, Barnett, Sagar, Lawton, Duffy, Jones, Obst, Shickell, Feather, Cherryholme, Pursglove, Rawlins, Demetriou. Interchange: Wray, March, Sheriffe, Korkidas
* Jason Demetriou has become the latest coach to be punished for criticising referees.
The former Wakefield player has been fined £250 by the Rugby Football League for criticising a match official on Twitter following his team’s Championship defeat by Leigh Centurions on August 23.
Demetriou, who is returning to Australia now Keighley’s season is over, subsequently submitted an unreserved apology for his actions.
Last month Trent Robinson (Catalan), Mike Rush (St Helens) and Daryl Powell (Featherstone) were all sanctioned for publicly criticising referees, while John Stankevitch (Rochdale) was banned from all involvement in the game after failing to pay a fine for abusing a match official.