KEIGHLEY Cougars troubled week came to a disappointing end with A 28-14 defeat away at fellow play-off hopefuls Whitehaven.

The home side opened the scoring after three minutes as Jordan Burns took the two points on offer after the Cougars were penalised close to the line.

Cameron Leeming then thought he had a walk-in for the afternoon’s first try but the touch judge had ruled that there had been a knock-on in the build-up play.

The Cougars came close once more as Perry Whiteley was held up on the back of a 70-metre break from the departing Adam Ryder.

The visitors eventually drew level, though, as Hardcastle opted to kick for goal after Haven were penalised for a ball steal in the ruck.

But, it would be the hosts that led at the interval when from a penalty, Jessie Joe Parker sold a dummy and cut on Davey Dixon’s inside to touch down.

The second half was proving as scrappy and error strewn as the first but the hosts increased their lead further as Dave Thompson touched down in the corner.

However, the try was deemed a controversial one as the pass to Thompson appeared to travel forward.

Hardcastle was pulling the strings for Keighley in attack and it showed as he used his quick footwork to leave two defenders in his wake and dive over from close range.

Dan Parker was then shown a somewhat harsh red card for a high shot on Dion Aiye which came as a result of the Papua New Guinea international losing his footing at the point of contact.

The result of the penalty was Burns putting his boot to use once more to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

The Cumbrian outfit then made full use of their man advantage to make sure of the two points with Chris Taylor first rounding the defence to score.

Thompson then scored his second after breaking downfield and handing off Harry Aaronson to get himself over the line.

Hardcastle had the afternoon’s final say though with a lovely show and go to seal his brace of tries.