KEIGHLEY Cougars’ return to competitive action after over a year out saw them fall to a battling 24-10 defeat away to London Broncos.

It was a fine effort, as it appeared that a long afternoon could be on the cards for the visitors within the first two minutes of the game.

Robert Matamosi was forced into touch from the kick-off, and from the resulting tap restart, the Broncos worked the ball out wide to Gideon Boafo, who dove into the corner for a try on his professional debut.

A scrambling defensive effort from Taylor Prell denied Boafo a second try, but the London attack finally broke through to double their advantage.

They had men over on the left edge, which allowed Jacob Jones to race over to score unchallenged.

A feisty end to the first half saw referee Robert Hicks send three players to the sin-bin inside the space of two minutes.

A late challenge in the air by Matamosi would see him sent for ten, with the resulting altercation seeing his opposite number Abbas Miski follow him to the sidelines for running in.

London were then temporarily reduced to 11-men after Paulos Latu committed a reckless challenge on Aaron Levy, leaving the Keighley man requiring treatment, and the Tongan thankful the colour of the card wasn’t red.

A lull at the start of the second half saw both sides exchanging possession, before London struck first as Sam Davis managed to burrow his way over from dummy half.

Great home defence denied Mo Agoro a consolation for Keighley, and from the restart the Broncos would go the length of the field, with Romain Navarette taking advantage by powering his way over from close range.

The Cougars would finish the game strongly and score two tries in the closing stages.

Ryan Wright forced a knock-on, and from the resulting advantage played by the officials, Ben Stead and Prell linked-up superbly to work through the defensive line and send Agoro crashing over in the right-hand corner.

Dan Parker then had his game ended early through a head knock, but as the hooter sounded, debutant Brenden Santi powered his way over from a play the ball to touch down.

Keighley did themselves proud against their full-time opposition and gave Rhys Lovegrove plenty of positives to take into the new League One season.

“It wasn’t the result, but it was the performance I wanted,” admitted the Cougars head coach.

“I knew that to get the result we would have to throw everything at them, including the kitchen sink.

“And to even get close to London I knew that’s what we had to do, and I am very pleased that we managed to do that against what is an incredible side.”