FC Halifax Town 0-0 Braintree Town

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As far as games go, this Thursday night goalless draw at The Shay between two sides chasing the play off places was hardly a classic.

FC Halifax Town welcomed Braintree Town for what was the visitor’s sixth game in the space of just thirteen days for a fixture in which the referee was focal point.

The officials gave a number of bizarre decisions topped off with a comical second half error which resulted in a free kick decision being reversed into a drop ball and the back to the original call.

In a poor first half, Braintree should have taken the lead on two occasions but both times Dan Holman pulled his shot wide when one on one with Halifax keeper Matt Glennon.

Halifax had the game’s first shot on target late in the half when Lois Maynard’s effort was well held by Nick Hamann between the sticks for the Essex outfit.

The Shaymen had two other opportunities earlier on in the proceedings with Paul Marshall’s left footed effort from the edge of the area and Marc Roberts header going wide of Hamann’s goal.

In a somewhat levier second half, Neil Aspin’s side must have felt they deserved more than just a point out of this game.

Hamann held onto a Simon Ainge header with substitute Scott Spencer, on debut following his loan move from Hyde, making a positive impact.

Within minutes of coming on, Spencer had two chances to score but both times but the ball in Row Z rather than the top corner of the Braintree goal.

The Iron’s defence held out strong against a Town strike force which contained the highly rated free scoring Lee Gregory and Alan Devonshire’s men tried to hit Fax on the break.

Braintree’s defensive display got this reaction from Neil Aspin: “If you look at the work-rate and when our wide players got the ball, there were always two banks of four. They worked exceptionally hard and they were difficult to break down. That is why we haven’t been able to be as fluent tonight because they put in a tremendous shift.”

The deployed tactic nearly came to fruition in terms of a goal but Matty Pearson fantastically outmuscled Luke Daley and forced a goal kick.

Braintree, who have played Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday for the past two weeks, have taken thirteen points along the way which has seen them move up to third in the table. The Shaymen remain in sixth, one point outside the play off place.

FC Halifax Town: Glennon, Bolton, Roberts (Lowe 65), Pearson, Ainge, McManus, Maynard, Smith (Spencer 61), Crowther (Jackson 82), Marshall, Gregory. Subs Not Used: Senior, Wilson.

Braintree Town: Hamann, Paine, Massey, Habergham, Wells, Daley (Jakubiak 80), Isaac, Sparkes (Laurent 46), Peters, Holman, Marks. Subs Not Used: McDonald, Holdsworth, Cox.

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Keighley Cougars 24-42 Sheffield Eagles

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After the Cougars heroics at Workington a week previous, the Cougars were brought back to earth with a bump by the ruthless Sheffield Eagles attack.

The Eagles broke the deadlock early on in proceedings when Duane Straugheir was the beneficiary of a defensive line gap from a Gareth Owen play the ball.

Despite trailing for just over sixty seconds, Straugheir sent the always dangerous Quentin Laulu-Togagae in for the Eagles second of the afternoon.

The Eagles secured an eight point half time interval when Michael Knowles controversially scored of a forward pass despite nearly knocking the ball on in the pass collection.

Three tries in the opening ten minutes of the second half for the Eagles secured the victory whilst killing the Cougars hopes of a bonus point off in the process.

The Eagles took less than two minutes to score when a flowing cross field passing move saw Scott Turner collect the ball and touch down in the corner.

A ludicrous forward pass which was missed by the official allowed the Eagles record try scorer Menzie Yere to get on the score sheet.

The man known as ‘QLT’ grabbed his second when he broke the Cougars line and sprinted fifty metres to touch down underneath the sticks and continue the Sheffield domination.

Sheffield got their fourth try of the second half after Pat Walker took advantage of a Elliot Cosgrove mistake to dummy through next to the sticks.

The Eagles final try of the afternoon came when substitute Matt Garside scored after some more poor defending by the home side.

Cougars looked like pushing Sheffield close when Scott Law luckily touched down a Danny Jones chip over the top to give the Lawkholmers an early two point lead.

After finding themselves eighteen points down, Cougars had some brief hope when Jack Lee’s kick over the top was spilt by Scott Turner on the line to be touched down by Josh Lynam.

The Cougars grabbed a third try when Andy Shickell powered through the Eagles line and stretched out to grab himself a four pointer.

Scott Law rounded of the scoring with his second try of the afternoon when he successfully fought through a tackle to get over next to the posts.

Yorkshire Times Man of the Match – Ross Peltier – The big prop caused the Eagles all sorts of problems during his fifteen minute stint off the interchanges bench. Being stopped on the line three times by a number of defenders, Ross also threw in some big defensive hits and aided the Cougars effort immensely whilst on the pitch.

Cougars: Jesse Sheriffe, Barnett, Cosgrove, Lawton, White, Jones, Handforth, Shickell, Haigh, Hesketh, Lynam, Rawlins, Law. Interchanges: Jode Sheriffe, Cherryholme, Lee, Peltier.

Eagles: Laulu-Togagae, Turner, Yere, Straugheir, Taulapapa, Walker, Brambani, Lillycrop, Owen, Stringer, Knowles, Green, Hope. Interchanges: Tagaloa, Davey, Garside. Burke.

Workington Town 22-24 Keighley Cougars

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Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat is a phrase overused in the game, but very appropriate for this dramatic Cougars victory.

Despite trailing by eighteen with twenty two minutes on the clock, Josh Lynam’s second try of the afternoon followed by a nail biting Paul Handforth conversion wrapped up the narrow victory.

The lad’s tremendous effort was not missed by Player-Coach Paul March: “Sixteen points down, probably should have been game over but we talked at half time about attitude and I think we showed that and I’m proud of the comeback.”

The Cougars were on the back foot for most of the game despite breaking the deadlock when Sean Hesketh dragged two Town defenders over the line before touching down.

Some shambolic defending by the visitors allowed Workington to take a twelve point into the half time interval much to the frustration of the Cougars defence.

Town took the lead when Andy Morris was the beneficiary of some lovely passing play from the halves, Carl Forber and Callum Phillips, to register the first points for the home side.

They would then go onto extend the lead when Brett Phillips broke through a half-hearted tackle before selling Handforth a dummy to send Jason Mossop through for a second try in five minutes.

The twelve point deficit at half time was wrapped up when a Morris break resulted in a flowing cross field move which caught the defence short to allow Callum Phillips over in the corner.

In between the Mossop and Phillips try, it seemed a miserable afternoon was to be impounded when Ash Lindsay departed injured.

Following the game, March gave us an update on Ash: “The doctor says it looks like Ash has cracked a bone in his leg, he’s going to have to go to hospital to have an X-Ray.”

A Cougars defeat looked certain when Town opened up an eighteen point lead Wigan dual registration star Jordan James powered over in similar style to Hesketh’s try.

But a resilient Cougars showed no mercy in the closing twenty two minutes to wrap up a fantastic comeback victory for themselves and the travelling support.

James Craven continued his recent hot streak when just made the whitewash to score despite appearing to knock the ball on in the process of grounding.

More dubious decisions then saw Josh Lynam score under the Town posts from a clear Danny Jones forward pass, one of many which infuriated Town coach Phil Veivers: “I need to look at the video, but there was a few dubious decisions I thought.”

Josh, who grabbed two tries including the winner, putting in an outstanding shift which saw him grab the man of the match award said post match. “It was disappointing to concede a few tries but we came out second half and stuck to our plans and won.”

Veivers mood could have only been worsened when a Danny Jones grubber on the last was missed by three defenders before being touched down by Elliot Cosgrove, who was in apparent offside position.

Then the Lynam winner came with five minutes left leaving the defence to hold out strong under immense pressure despite a last minute Town penalty five metres from the line.

Yorkshire Times Man of the Match – Josh Lynam – An immense eighty minute shift from the second rower which saw him grab two tries was topped off with constant defensive line breaking runs in attack as well as many last gasp defensive tackles to stop Town running away with the game.

COUGARS: Craven, Barnett, Cosgrove, Lawton, White, Jones, Handforth, Shickell, Haigh, Hesketh, Lynam, Rawlins, Lindsay. Interchanges (All Used): Jode Sheriffe, Cherryholme, Graham, Lee.

TOWN: Murphy, Mossop, Stack, Morris, Connor, Forber, C Phillips, Dudson, Lupton, Shackley, B Phillips, Farrell, McAvoy. Interchanges (All Used): Coward, Duerden, Lucock, James.

Attendance: 746.

Keighley Cougars 42-0 Wath Brow Hornets

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The Cougars saw off a potential cupset in convincing fashion as they swatted the Wath Brow Hornets to the side to book a place in the fourth round.

Danny Lawton got the scoring underway after sixteen very drab minutes squeezing over after three of his teammates were held out in succession by some tenacious defence.

The creative halves pairing of Danny Jones and Paul Handforth came into force as they offloaded back and forth before the latter sent Josh Lynam in under the posts.

Handforth got another assist moments later when he broke and offloaded to James Craven who staved off two Wath Brow defenders to touch down.

Some great Cougar teamwork was the force behind the fourth try when some fantastic link up play was followed up by Paul White skipping past three Hornets players to send the home side into the interval with a twenty point advantage.

Eight minutes after the restart, White was over in the corner again for his second of the afternoon despite a last ditch tackle attempt by the Hornets winger Luke Davison.

The tiring Wath Brow defence was then punished in the final twenty minutes, first of all by Handforth who powered through a three man tackle to get over.

Tiger, Danny Jones and the forward pack showed Wath Brow up with the impressive display which could have only impressed on looking Bradford Bulls coach Francis Cummins.

Two tries in two minutes finished off the game and scoring with the Cougars showing no mercy to the amateur Cumbrian outfit.

Jack Lee made it two in two when he collected the ball after a flowing move and dummied his way through a challenge to fight over the whitewash.

And from the restart, Richie Barnett broke the Wath Brow line and made a good forty metres before a cross field kick from Danny Jones allowed the move to continue and Lewis Graham to cross the line.

Wath Brow had very little scoring opportunities but had two tries, one in either half, ruled out by the Australian match official.

On both occasions, winger Scott Pink thought he had got his side on the scoreboard¬ however he had his efforts ruled out for a knock on in the first forty and a forward pass in the second.

The Cougars will be hoping to avoid Warrington in this Tuesday afternoon’s fourth round draw which will take place at 15:45 live on BBC Radio Leeds.

YORKSHIRE TIMES MAN OF THE MATCH – Jack Lee – One of six candidates, the substitute hooker replaced Luke Haigh in the first half and didn’t depart the field put in an impressive display in both attack and defence, grabbing a try in the process.

COUGARS: Craven, Barnett, Lawton, Williams, White, Jones, Handforth, Shickell, Haigh, Hesketh, Lynam, Rawlins, Lindsay. Interchanges (All Used): Jode Sheriffe, Cherryholme, Graham, Lee.

HORNETS: Devine, Davison, Caddy, King, Pink, K Dixon, Watson, J Dixon, Doran, R Huby, Ramsden, M Huby, Tomlinson. Interchanges (All Used): Agnew, J Martin, McCarron, L Martin.

Attendance: 488.

Keighley Cougars 26-28 Leigh Centurions

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The bravest performance in defeat in many a year by the Cougars was no consolation for a controversial heart breaking defeat to league leaders Leigh Centurions.

Adam Higson crossed in the corner ninety seconds from the hooter after the referee awarded a controversial penalty for a ball steal in the tackle.

After winning the game on the controversial call by the official, Leigh came into the game expected to win with ease but didn’t have it all their own way.

This was shown by Paul Rowley post match: “There was no surprises, we’re not arrogant enough to think we deserve wins and for us, it’s done us good to be in a true contest and we kept going right until the last minute, which has done us the world of good.”

Leigh threatened to run away early on with Bob Beswick proving the beneficiary of a Tom Spencer break and Tom Armstrong crossed through a massive gap in the defensive line.

These efforts came either side of the Rocketman, Richie Barnett, going over in the corner for his first try of the season and Cougars first of the afternoon.

Leigh opened up a twelve point when a wild Danny Jones pass was kicked eighty metres down field by Stuart Littler to allow Ryan Brierley to touch down.

Cougars came back into the game however when Jack Lee, on for Luke Haigh who departed concussed, threw a fantastic offload to James Craven to touch down under the posts.

Leigh went into the half time interval with an eight point lead when Martyn Ridyard converted a penalty on the hooter after Brendon Rawlins was penalised by the match official.

Paul March’s stooges turned the style on in a dominant second half performance which left the stunned Centurions outfit looking for answers.

Keighley narrowed the margin of difference to two points when Daley Williams took yet another beautiful Tiger pass before dummying through two defenders to touch down.

The home side then drew level when Jack Lee collected a wonderful pass from Neil Cherryholme before weaving his way through three Leigh challenges to touch down at full strength.

But, Jack Lee’s efforts came after the visitors took a six point lead when Higson grabbed his first of the match touching down in the corner despite a last ditch tackle attempt by Williams.

Danny Jones gave the Cougars a deserved lead when he converted a penalty when Leigh were penalised back to back for interference in the ruck.

But Higson scored on the back of the controversial penalty to win the game for Leigh, leaving Paul March with this to say: “I’m massively disappointed, we didn’t start quite well yet again and they scored an early try but we dug in deep. We played for each other today and probably deserved all three points.”

The side will be looking to bounce back next Saturday when they step into an unknown quantity at Cougar Park when NCL outfit Wath Brow Hornets visit in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup.

Yorkshire Times Man of the Match – Daley Williams – In a team full of heroes on this afternoon, Daley put himself out from the rest with his superb individual effort. As well as scoring a try, he forced numerous errors from Leigh whilst making a variety of fantastic tackles in defence across the park.

Cougars: Craven, Barnett, Lawton, Williams, White, Jones, Handforth, Shickell, Haigh, Hesketh, Lynam, Rawlins, Lindsay. Interchanges (All Used): Jode Sheriffe, Cherryholme, Graham, Lee.

Centurions: McNally, Higson, Littler, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Spencer, Beswick, Aspinwall, Sarsfield, Goulden, Barlow. Interchanges (All Used): Wilkes, Penkywicz, Emmitt, Haggerty.

Attendance: 1309.

Rochdale Hornets 14-40 Keighley Cougars

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Following the disappointing defeat at Doncaster the week previous, Keighley Cougars travelled to Rochdale looking to bounce back.

Despite conceding two early tries, the Cougars got back into the game through the luck of the green when Brendan Rawlins escaped an offside call before Paul Handforth wriggled through a gap to cross the line.

The Cougars finished the half four points off the pace when a lovely passing move resulted with Paul White effectively jogging into the corner under little challenge.

Paul White gave the Cougars the lead for the first time six minutes into the second stanza when he crossed following a lovely Danny Jones pass.

Whitey’s hat-trick came from a bit of fortune when he collected a Jones kick and touched down despite being in an offside position.

Cougars second half dominance continued when Sean Hesketh was held up short but offloaded to Paul March who powered over.

Marchy said post match: “I thought we defended far too much in the first half, but we get hold off the game and come back. Second half, it was all there evident for everybody ¬to see that we upped our tempo.”

And moments later, Paul White found himself going over in the corner for his fourth when after collecting the ball from a long range pass, he went over with the freedom of Rochdale at his mercy.

Following the game, Whitey said: “Majority of my tries, I just got onto the end of them and I would have liked to finish the one where I got put into touch but I’m just out there finishing tries, it’s my job that if I’m there on the end to finish them.”

Then a March break saw the Player-Coach offload to Lewis Graham who raced forty yards to cross for his first try as a Keighley player.

Cougars wrapped up the comprehensive victory seconds after the final hooter when James Craven raced down the wing to cross in the corner.

The Cougars got off to the worse possible start however when Fiji international Ryan Millard, on debut for the hosts, controlled the play to allow Gareth Langley to get over in the corner.

Rochdale extended their lead through the same man in the same corner when Langley touched down following a lovely kick on the last to the wing from full back Sean Casey.

The Hornets didn’t let a Cougars reply stop them extending the lead when Matty Dawson wonderfully collected a Millard grubber to get his sides third of the afternoon.

YORKSHIRE TIMES MAN OF THE MATCH – Paul March – The Player-Coach, dubbed as one half of the family circus in the matchday programme, made a clown out of the Hornets with a fantastic display off the interchanges bench, controlling the play throughout his stint on the field as well as grabbing himself a try and playing a part in two others.

COUGARS: Craven, Barnett, Cosgrove, Lawton, White, Jones, Handforth, Shickell, Haigh, Hesketh, Lynam, Rawlins, Lindsay. INTERCHANGES (All Used): March, Jode Sheriffe, Cherryholme, Graham.

HORNETS: Casey, Langley, Davies, Dawson, Te’o, Crook, Millard, Walker, Dandy, Thompson, Greenwood, Flanagan, Suffolk. INTERCHANGES (All Used): Cookson, Case, Marsh, Dwyer.

Attendance: 726

Doncaster RL 30-12 Keighley Cougars

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Ill-discipline turned out to cost the Cougars dearly as the twelve men saw a bonus point slip through their grasps in the final minute.

Nev Morrison’s try less than a minute before time was enough to extend the Dons victory margin out of bonus point territory.

The try came as a result of a gap in the line which would have been gapped if Paul March hadn’t of talked himself into a second stint in the sin bin.

Following the game, March acknowledged his error: “I’ve let team down at the end, not picking up a bonus point when we probably didn’t deserve a point out of today but we got ourselves back into it. Obviously my sin bin at the end cost us but we’ve got have a look and see where we went wrong in preparation.

Marchy’s first stint in the bin came when during the build up for the Cougars second try when he came to blows with Dean Hadley as Hadley took a dig at James Craven.

It is not the first time March and Hadley had come to blows in a match however, the two shared fisticuffs during Cougars trip to York last term.

The Dons had started the game brighter and on the upper foot with Stewart Sanderson touched down in the corner after just sixty three seconds following a March knock on from the kick off.

The hosts then extended their lead when Mick Kelly crossed after the Cougars defensive line separated to give Doncaster a ten point advantage.

Doncaster started the second half in similar fashion as well with Sanderson scoring in the corner and Liam Welham touching down when Ash Lindsay rushed out of the line.

Lindsay made his debut in place of the injured James Feather, after the game, Josh Lynam said regarding Busters absence: “We missed Buster today, he takes us around the park and we opted to go with another back row forward but it didn’t really work out as well as we’d of liked it too.”

In the opening set from which Doncaster scored, Ben Sagar departed the game with a shoulder injury that would keep him from returning.

Cougars did get back into the game quickly however following the opening two tries, as three minutes later Daley Williams touched down a lovely Paul Handforth kick on the last.

The Dons retook a ten point lead in somewhat controversial circumstances when Dave Scott touched down in the corner despite Paul White knocking his foot onto the whitewash.

The Cougars only trailed by six at the break after Paul White touched down following the March and Hadley sin binnings.

White does have claim to try of the game however as he collected a Cooke kick and raced the length of the pitch to score the Cougars final try of the afternoon.

Yorkshire Times Man of the Match – Andy Shickell – The ‘Shicky Monster’ had a fantastic showing at the Keepmoat with the Doncaster outfit unable to contain his powerful bursts through the defensive line whenever he was on the field.

COUGARS: Craven, Barnett, Cosgrove, Williams, White, March, Handforth (C), Shickell, Lindsay, Hesketh, Lynam, Rawlins, Sagar. Interchanges: Jode Sheriffe, Graham, Lee, Peltier.

Doncaster: Butterfield, Sanderson, Welham, Morrison, Scott, Cooke, Nicklas, Spiers, Kesik (C), Pitts, Robinson, Kelly, Emmett. Interchanges: Castle, Spaven, Carbutt, Hadley

Attendance: 647