RL Challenge Cup: Keighley Cougars 66, Saddleworth Rangers 16.

A much-improved second half display saw Keighley Cougars ease into the fourth round of the Challenge Cup.

John Kain's side ran in 11 tries against the National Conference League's bottom club as they made their undoubted extra pace and power pay dividends.

Captain Jason Ramshaw again led by example and deservedly grabbed three tries to help set Cougars up for what they hope will be a financially lucrative fourth round tie against a Super League club.

Keighley had looked slightly lethargic in those opening 40 minutes with only Ramshaw putting in the sort of tackle which could knock the visitors out of their stride.

With all the uncertainty surrounding Keighley's future during the close season, Kain opted not to take part in any pre-season friendlies and his side appeared to be slightly off the pace in that opening half as a result.

They conceded three tries against a Saddleworth side who belied their lowly Conference status and it wasn't until the second half that the Keighley defence returned to the rock solid form which they will need if they are going to challenge in the First Division this season.

Close range tries from Ramshaw, Phil Stephenson and Danny Guest saw Keighley lead 28-12 at half-time despite rarely clicking into top gear.

However the second half was a vastly different story as Keighley started to attack with much more conviction as they began using the angles to great effect.

Touchdowns from Paul Owen and another for Ramshaw early in that second half put the result beyond doubt and were the prelude to the try of the game from the young Welsh trialist on the Cougars' right wing.

The 19-year-old received the ball deep in his own half before an amazing turn of speed saw him outpace Rangers' duo Chris Arden and Danny Tyrell down the right wing to bring the magnificent 3,116 crowd to their feet in appreciation.

Chris Robinson, whose goal kicking was superb throughout, then started to work in tandem with Ramshaw and although Owen looked slightly ring rusty, Cougars' second half performance bodes well for when their league season gets underway at Swinton Lions next Sunday.

Of the four debutants, centre Brock McDonald had the strongest game and his pace and power look like being useful additions to what should be a good Keighley outfit.

Prop Guest, signed from Oldham Bears, also added some power to the pack although Cougars were hit when Alan Julian was forced out of the game with a hamstring injury after just half-an-hour.

Kain was pleased with the way his side performed. "Before the game we were looking for a solid performance with good defence and some good ball control and that is what we got. It was a good workout.

"I have personally believed for a long time that Jason Ramshaw is in the top three or four hookers in any division and he justified that.

"I was also very pleased with such an excellent crowd for a game against Saddleworth, who didn't bring many people."

A minute's silence was held before the game in memory of Sue Loftus, who was bar manager at the club for many years, and life-long supporter Danny McGowan, who both died recently.

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