KEIGHLEY Cougars registered a much-needed two points in their League One play-off hunt with a 32-16 victory at the Hemel Stags.

It was a hard-fought victory in difficult conditions for head coach Craig Lingard’s depleted side after last week’s off-field problems decimated his squad.

Financial difficulties have seen captain Josh Tonks and Ryan Wright join Hunslet, while Matty Beharrell has gone to another League One rival in Doncaster.

But Cougars appeared to have opened the floodgates early with two tries in the opening 10 minutes of the game, the first seeing Christopher Cullimore cut out to the wing from dummy half to cross.

The second try saw Cullimore turn provider, sending Cameron Leeming burrowing over from close range.

The visitors extended their lead further when Benn Hardcastle’s pass floated to the right wing for Davey Dixon to touch down for his first of the season.

However, the home side were showing some real grit and got over for their first score as Jono Burns sold a dummy and squeezed over from two metres.

The half ended with a dangerous tackle on Keighley debutant Aaron Levy that was left on report by the officials despite fans of both sides agreeing a card should have been shown.

The Cougars came firing out of the blocks after the half-time interval to score from both their first two sets of the half.

The first saw Scott Law break the line and put a first senior try on a plate for the supporting Levy.

Immediately from the restart, Andy Gabriel broke through an attempted tackle and raced the length of the field to score beneath the uprights.

The Stags then showed some tenacity in defence but this wall was finally broken through by Brendon Rawlins, who powered his way over from close range to touch down.

Hemel added to their score though as Matt Welham crossed the whitewash after a break down the Cougars right-hand side by Shaun Roberts.

Both sides were then reduced to 12 men as handbags flew and Benn Hardcastle and Corey Hanson were both given a yellow card.

The lowly hosts scored once more following the sin-bins as a grubber in goal caused confusion and allowed Darren Forde to pounce after the referee consulted his assistants.

But Keighley had done enough to provide a much-needed boost.