A last-gasp drop goal from Louis Jouffret condemned Keighley Cougars to a 23-22 defeat at home to Halifax Panthers yesterday, setting up an extraordinary final weekend in the Betfred Championship drop battle.

Newcastle are already down, but the second relegation spot is yet to be decided.

Barrow could still mathematically slip into League 1, but realistically, it is one of Whitehaven, Cougars and Swinton who will fall through the trapdoor.

The trio all have 16 points, and remarkably similar points differences.

Whitehaven are on -318 ahead of hosting Toulouse on the final weekend, with Cougars and Swinton both on -323 going into their away games at London Broncos and Halifax respectively.

Keighley are only currently ahead of Swinton because they have scored 490 points this season, as opposed to the Lions' 404.

Cougars roared out of the blocks yesterday, aided by some sloppy mistakes from their visitors.

James Woodburn-Hall dropped a high kick, and from the resulting play, Keighley worked the ball from left to right, with Mo Agoro showing strength to bounce off Lachlan Walmsley's tackle and get over for a try in the corner.

Oscar Thomas' conversion attempt hit the post, but Cougars were not deterred and after Agoro and Robbie Storey were held up, they grabbed a second try.

It was a carbon copy of the first effort, as Agoro got the better of Walmsley to score in the corner.

Thomas pulled the subsequent kick wide and Walmsley then made up for his struggles somewhat by scoring from a neat Ben Crooks offload, after the former Keighley and Hull KR man had been found by a long Jouffret pass.

But Jouffret hit the post from the touchline with the conversion attempt as his side stayed 8-4 behind.

Sadiq Adebiyi was perhaps fortunate to escape a yellow card after lifting Halifax's Jacob Fairbank over the horizontal, but the visitors put that frustration behind them by hitting the front after half-an-hour.

Joe Keyes and Jouffret linked up to put Alex Sutcliffe through on the short ball, and though the latter initially spilled the pass to him as it bounced off his chest, he grabbed it before it hit the ground and regathered to score.

Jouffret's conversion put Halifax in front, but Cougars levelled the scores before the break through a Thomas penalty, though the hosts were a little frustrated after not being handed an advantage.

Keyes and Woodburn-Hall linked up early in the second half, with the latter putting the prolific Walmsley in to score.

Jouffret's conversion attempt from the touchline went wide.

Kieran Rush was denied a certain try by Keyes' last-gasp tackle, before a penalty from Jouffret in front of the posts after an infringement by Kyle Kesik put Fax 16-10 ahead.

But good work to move the ball right by Cougars put Charlie Graham away to score in the corner after 56 minutes.

Thomas agonisingly hit the post again attempting to add the extras, but he was on target moments later after Lewis Young was taken out attempting to claim his own high kick.

That penalty levelled the scores at 16-16 on the hour mark.

Halifax went back in front moments later when James Saltonstall burst through the middle and fed Woodburn-Hall, who just held off the chasing Graham to score.

Keighley kept coming though, and they levelled the scores with six minutes left when Mark Ioane spun out of a tackle to cross the whitewash, with Thomas' conversion tying things up once again.

But Halifax had the last say through Jouffret's 78th minute drop goal, meaning they remain in the play-off race, while Cougars face a stomach-churning final-day clash in the capital.