THE newly-formed Keighley Cougars Ladies travelled to Boston to face the RAF Ladies in the first round of the Challenge Cup and soared to an impressive 36-12 victory.

Cougars raced into an early 12-0 lead but took their foot off the pedal to allow the hosts to level.

But a converted try for Keighley just before the interval proved crucial, as they ran away with it in the second half.

Before the game, newly-appointed coach Dave Needham was hoping all the pre-season training would pay dividends.

The team was led by the new captain Sarah Shillito, who brings with her a wealth of experience.

Recent signing Jess Hopkins was first to put points on the scoreboard with a great try, as a smart switch of directional play saw her dive over the whitewash.

This was soon followed by another determined run from Hopkins, whose pass to the right for Laura Ackroyd was offloaded for Emma Templeton to score.

Shillito then took advantage of a slow defence and dived over from acting half to reap another four points.

The RAF then scored and converted a try, before they quickly managed to force themselves over the Keighley line again.

Another kick added the extras to make the scores even at 12-12.

But Hopkins was next to score for Keighley and Templeton converted to put the visitors 18-12 in front at half-time.

The weather conditions deteriorated after the break, but the icy, blowing wind did not stop the stellar running of Keighley’s Nicole Hannah, who was unstoppable in making important yards forward.

Some excellent teamwork led to some great passages of play from the Cougars Ladies, especially from Chloe Chester and Olivia Gill.

Impressive runs from Millie Sharp and Sarah Cartwright kept the Keighley momentum on the up, while some crunching tackles from Hopkins and Templeton maintained the tempo.

Templeton drove through the RAF defence for her second try, then added the extras, before going over again for her hat-trick.

Ackroyd sold a dummy to the RAF defensive line and dived over for a great try, before the tireless Saima Hussain scored out wide after some great running to complete the scoring.

Templeton’s hat-trick saw her take player of the match, as Cougars went through to the next round, to be held in two weeks time.

The visitors could be proud of their efforts and going forward, it is looking good for the Keighley Cougars Ladies.