KEIGHLEY Cougars have slumped into the Betfred Championship relegation zone after losing their huge game at Swinton Lions 18-10 yesterday afternoon.

Matt Foster’s Cougars side were above the dotted line, and Swinton, on points difference going into the encounter, but knew their hosts would overtake them with a win.

And in a tense encounter, it was the Lions who just about prevailed, a late converted try sealing their success.

It was a bad start for the visitors, with Brad Walker taking out the kicker late and high, allowing Dan Abram to slot over a penalty and put Swinton 2-0 up.

Keighley advanced to the Swinton line soon after but made a handling error to lose any chance of a score.

The hosts punished that mistake on 15 minutes, working the ball left from a scrum.

The ball came the way of Matty Foster and he drove through a gap to score, Abram converting for 8-0.

Keighley held out as more pressure came their way, surviving a goal-line dropout, before they broke away down the left themselves through Oscar Thomas, Junior Sa’u and Charlie Graham, only to be taken into touch 10 metres out.

And while Swinton were on top heading towards the break, it was Cougars who grabbed a crucial score just before the hooter.

There was some luck involved, as Walker’s kick took a wicked deflection off the defender, but Lewis Young was alive to the loose ball and got on the end of it for a try.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Lewis Young's try late in the first half gave Keighley hope.Lewis Young's try late in the first half gave Keighley hope. (Image: Jordan Weatherall.)

Thomas made the easy conversion from underneath the posts, leaving Keighley just 8-6 down at half-time.

But Young was penalised for a heavy tackle on Abram at the start of the second half and sent to the sin-bin, leaving Cougars looking vulnerable with 12 men.

Yet it was the visitors who created the better chances with a man down, as they were twice denied by battling defence on the Swinton goal-line.

That proved even more valuable on the hour mark when the Lions increased their lead.

Abram took on the Keighley defence near the line and shaped to pass, only to cut in on the angle and score the try himself.

He was unable to convert, and Cougars hit back with 10 minutes to go, as lovely work from Mark Ioane put captain Ellis Robson through a gap on the line to score.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Skipper Ellis Robson set up a grandstand finish, but to no avail.Skipper Ellis Robson set up a grandstand finish, but to no avail. (Image: JT Sports Media.)

Thomas’ kick was agonisingly off target though, meaning Swinton still held a 12-10 lead.

A frantic last 10 minutes followed, as both sides looked to seal a crucial win.

Former Bulls man Tom Doyle, who, according to multiple reports, had a transfer request turned down last week by Cougars, tried to score a solo try but the kick through to himself ran dead.

The Lions came close themselves, just failing to ground the ball after a kick through.

But the decisive score came with three minutes to go.

Keighley were on the attack, but a sloppy forward pass gifted Swinton a scrum.

From that, Lions debutant Robbie Butterworth cut through the visiting line and raced away to score under the posts, with Abram converting to seal victory.

Cougars are now a point from safety with six games to go, and have a week off to lick their wounds before hosting Batley on Sunday, August 20.