KEIGHLEY Cougars suffered a sensational second-half collapse to fall to a home 48-19 defeat at the hands of Betfred League One leaders Whitehaven.

The Cougars got off to the ideal start, racing into a 14-0 lead, before an onslaught after the break sealed victory for the visitors from Cumbria.

Keighley opened the scoring through Louis Sheriff, the full-back fighting his way over after both Benn Hardcastle and James Feather had been denied.

Jack Miller extended the lead further, racing over after superb play from Hardcastle to create the space for his half-back partner.

Hardcastle himself added the two after Whitehaven were penalised for a dangerous tackle on Davey Dixon.

Whitehaven scored their first points of the afternoon, Dion Aiye burrowing over from a quick tap moments after Marc Shackley was held up over the line.

On the sound of the half-time hooter, Hardcastle added a drop goal from a scrum to extend their advantage.

The second half saw Whitehaven run in 42 unanswered points as they left the Cougars crumbling under the onslaught.

They first caught Keighley’s right edge defence sleeping and Sam Forrester took full advantage to skip through to go over in front of the jubilant travelling support.

The Cougars defence was caught napping once again by the resurgent visitors, Aiye this time handing off a would-be tackler before forcing his way home underneath the crossbar.

Keighley looked a different side to that of the first half and Whitehaven were turning the screw, Callum Phillips breaking a tackle to skip through and dive over.

As Forrester broke and looked a certainty for a second, Davey Dixon prevented a quick play the ball to earn himself 10 minutes for a professional foul.

Forrester would then get his second, touching down a Phillips grubber after the Keighley defence failed to clear their lines.

Andrew Bulman scored the pick of Whitehaven’s tries, returning a kick on the last 80 metres unchallenged to dive home beneath the uprights.

Whitehaven’s second 40 went for good to even better shortly after, Forrester completing his hat-trick from 50 metres out after Aaron Levy knocked-on.

Phillips wrapped up the win, breaking to score his second before Macauley Hallett scored a Keighley consolation.