KEIGHLEY Cougars bowed out of the Coral Challenge Cup at the first hurdle with a 16-12 home defeat to the Newcastle Thunder.

The third-round tie was a bad-tempered affair set against the backdrop of driving rain and wind on a muddy Cougar Park pitch.

After Louis Sheriff came close to opening the scoring for Keighley, Newcastle struck through Colton Roche, the former Bradford Bulls forward sliding over on the back of a Brad Walker assist.

Walker however was forced from the field with a shoulder injury after being on the receiving end of a challenge that resulted in Cougars' Dalton Desmond-Walker being sent to the sin bin.

The game then broke down into a spate of fights which eventually resulted in Roche being shown a red card for a late challenge on Lewis Wray.

Despite being at a man disadvantage, Newcastle extended their lead further as Kieran Gill manage to burrow his way under several Keighley bodies to get over the line.

Reece Dean then converted the first of three penalties after Keighley were penalised for offside.

The Cougars trailed 12-0 at the break but came out firing in the second half and came close to scoring on several occasions with Benn Hardcastle and Jack Coventry before being held agonisingly short of the line.

They finally made one of those chances pay off as Josh Lynam managed to break through a tackle and stretch his arm over to touch down.

However, Newcastle’s defence continued to hold strong whilst they made the most of any attempt to keep the scoreboard ticking over, with Dean adding two points from the boot when his side was awarded a penalty.

The game though, despite being fiercely competitive in muddy conditions, continued to break down in parts and it resulted in two Thunder players being placed on report.

Mikey Wood - another to join Newcastle from the Bulls in the off-season - was the first man to see the X symbol from the official after a suspected incident of gouging.

Brenden Santi then followed, after making dangerous contact with Dan Parker in a tackle.

Aaron Levy then threatened to set up a grandstand finish when he worked his way over the line with just a minute remaining on the clock.

But it proved to be false hope, Dean converting his final penalty on the sound of the hooter after Kyle Kesik was penalised for picking up a loose ball in an offside position.

Newcastle now visit Siddal in the next round.